The Brewery – Part 1 – The Dream

The Objective

I had been getting familiar with prototyping electronics because the main barrier for me to build my own stuff is finding the hardware to put my software in. To really test all I’ve learned, I felt I needed to tackle a moderately complex electronics project. Software design had to be involved as well.

Micro controllers and ARM processors bridge both topics together quite well for my objective so an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi would certainly be a fair way to go.

The Dream

Ever since I saw Buckey from thenewboston make beer I wanted to do my take on it. His method is pretty straight forward but didn’t go into the specifics required to make something that was really high quality and unique.

Even so, replicating the process felt like the safest way to go. First I tried to get the materials – very expensive to ship, if at all possible. Second I tried sourcing the material locally – adapting the process to the materials I could find ended up feeling like I was preparing to make instant soup.

After that I lost interest in it and tossed it aside for some time.

 20 years go by

Some time latter, on the back of my mind I couldn’t put to rest that there is a way to make beer from raw materials.

The challenge

Consumed by the fact that I can’t do something that is apparently insurmountable, logically, I establish equally insurmountable goals for myself. Typically, I emerge some time later with exactly what I envisioned and the in-betweens remain a mystery to everyone. Now I have this blog so, here is what happened.

I decided to master the art of brewing beer and in the processes I built my own tools with the goal of producing the best beer I could.

Study the Process

I did a montage and, in a nutshell, there are 2 main paths one can go through:

  1. The boring and least satisfying way – There are cans of pre-brewed beer you just add water to, boil it, ferment it and package it. With “the can” you get a predetermined beer type brewed by some lazy guy and then you finish the job he started. If it comes out nicely, the brand was good, if it doesn’t… you did something wrong.
  2. The way men do things – Drink various types of beer until you know what makes a good beer. Savour it and share it. Find a recipe for your favourite type of beer and modify it to your liking. Buy the various types of malt grain and hops your beer needs and than mash it, lauter it, boil it, whirlpool it, cool it , ferment it,condition it, filter it, carbonate it and finally package it. If it comes out nicely you have created your own beer. Share it! If it comes out bad, find the problem, fix it and go at it again.

I choose to go with the second option because it’s the one I can get most involved in and therefore the most satisfying option. I’ve also discovered I really like wheat beer so I’ll go with it.

If you want to know more about the process, Google is your friend or just wait for my first brewing post.

Available Options

I divided the second option in 3 major stages and tried to find commercial option for each:

  1. Brewing – I like simple elegant solutions to problems. The best way to find these types of solutions is just an all out web search for a product that does everything. Unfortunately there are no commercial options for a monolithic brewer, that can brew beer as a professional brewery would. In every option I found either a few steps where skipped, the price was 12K€ or you needed lots and lots buckets. Apparently, brewers love expensive plastic buckets for some reason…
  2. Fermenting – The fermenting material are cheap and monolithic enough.
  3. Packaging – A regulated CO2 fire extinguisher, a soda keg, some pressure tubing with leads and a beer gun will give the option of both kegging and/or bottling at an affordable price. No one can ever tell me that drinking beer solves no problems – I now have all the bottles I’ll ever need to bottle my beer.

Build Materials

Every electronic piece of hardware is available when you solve the following equation: eBay + China = x

Oficina da Cerveja operates off Lisbon and Cerveja Artesanal operates off Porto. They have more than enough materials for me to locally source and pursue every possible option I can imagine.

You can find other sources here.

Design the machine

Next post…

Leave a Reply