The Brewery – Part 2 – The first time I made beer
After many hours…days…months of studying chemistry, materials, electronics and plumbing to properly design and build a machine that makes good beer consistently, I decided to go with a “basic design”.
By now I pretty much have the process down so I felt confident enough to write something about my experience.
Making the machine was hard but lots of fun. At times it was also really painful but in the end, it got done.
I googled around and found that people where using kegs as kettles because they are a cheap sources of high quality inox. Googled some more and found a cheap one, plus a used coil from a beer serving machine. Bought it, and it began…
Meanwhile, the controller was starting to take shape at my desk. Temperature control was the first system I developed because at the time it seemed the easiest one to make progress on, keep motivation up.
Around this time was when the first tests where being preformed. Temperature control with a PT100 was hard to figure out. (still is)
Revision 1.0 also had a magnetic mixer, which was awesome because I had to re-study electric motors and motor drivers. The mixer motor was embedded in a wooden stand I built for the machine so…cue the woodwork…
I present, Revision 1.0…
Like all first attempts, it failed. It failed mainly because the metal bucket that held the filtering bag with the crushed grain sat on top of the heating element, making it impossible for the grain to be completely submerged.
Now, looking at it, it’s quite obvious. At the time, this issue only came up when I went for it and tried to brew some beer for the first time.
Desperate, I went all or nothing, removing the bucket and placing all my faith in the PID’s temperature control over the heating element.
The PID held strong for a long time but a bug in the software stuck the heating element fully on, burning through the filtering bag and spreading an awful smell of burnt plastic and grain everywhere!
I did not document it but that basically was game over for Revision 1.
So Revision 1.1 was born!
The major development was the bending of all metal parts that where in the way of the bucket, solving the main issue.
…a big fan blowing on the SSR, now sitting on top of a huge aluminum heat sink, because the previous one decided to let out the magic smoke. The rat’s nest shield on top of the Arduino Mega is not my best work but it worked. A 24×2 character LCD display and a rotary encoder to browse the menu are embedded in the case for control.…and that’s it.
And finally, this was the day I made beer for the first time.
Here it is after it got into the fermenter…
My first batches where all slowly forced carbonated using a Cornelius Keg and a CO2 cylinder, which is also not the way I do thing around here these days.
And that was the first time I brewed a successful batch with my machine.
What shall I do next?