Beerlab is a mildly irreverent exploration of homebrewing in an open source manner. Run by two guys from South Yorkshire (Kit Challis @kitchallis and Scott Beddow) and based in Sheffield - a beer mecca; it’s a year-long project to write a how-to book for the would-be homebrewer and open source tinkerer. We’ll be perfecting recipes, trying out different hops and yeasts, hacking together hardware and software to aid the brewing, fermenting and serving process, and sharing every experience, warts and all, with you.
Whether you’re a novice tinkerer, brewer or both, the beerlab book will feature fun projects and builds to help you combine hacking with brewing. Each week we'll keep you updated on progress, post the recipes and tasting notes so you can suggest improvements.
We’ll be hacking together temperature controlled fermentation systems, brewing systems, wort chillers, internet connected beer dispensing robots, yeast starter stir plates and anything else we think might be fun and interesting.
We’re looking to brew two to three small batches of beer a week to perfect recipes and our brewing process. All recipes will be hosted on GitHub in our public repository and freely available for everyone to use and improve upon. We’ll be formulating an easy to follow method based on “brew in a bag” so you can brew along with us to help perfect recipes and have them featured in the book.
We did a porter on Wednesday and the recipe is on GitHub called Special - Kickstarter Porter. Check out the highlights in this (thankfully short) video.
We’ll also push the boundaries with exotic ingredients - I have a fairly large bag of saffron that’s dying to be brewed with!
The Open Sourciness
We’ll be supporting (with both expertise and financially) three open source brewing projects: BrewPi (brewpi.com) for automated and connected fermentation temperature control, Brewtarget (brewtarget.org) for recipe creation and brew day management and Kegbot (kegbot.org) an amazing internet enabled beer dispensing system.
Why a Kickstarter?
Well, we want to take our brewing to the next level and really dedicate some quality time and energy to this project. We have a designer on board and we'll be supporting the open source projects with significant donations. Also, three brews a week will take a serious volume of ingredients and fermenting gear. More important than finances however is community. We want you to be fully involved in the production of the book by contributing recipes, suggesting hardware improvements and generally enjoying it as much as we will!
Remember, you won't be charged until we are fully funded - it's all or nothing!
The Stretch Goals
Beerlab is just the start. The ambition of every home brewer is to set up a brewery of their own and Sheffield is the perfect place for that - great pubs, great water and great people. The stretch goal is actually not that much higher than the project goal especially if a local freehold pub wants to go into partnership - nudge nudge, wink wink.
Risks and challenges
Ingredients and equipment in these volumes are expensive. You may only build one or two of these projects but we'll be building all of them while researching the book. The reason why the goal is so high is to make sure we have enough resources to do all the cool stuff we want and really do the project justice.
We've never shipped large volumes of items but my mate who runs a vinyl record label has and will be consulting on the process. We already have all the quotes in for the rewards and are confident we can fulfil them.
Yep, sure is but our motto is "do it properly or not at all".
The money will be going towards:
Book printing, reward fulfilment, open source project donations, equipment and ingredients, attending the Brewlab brewing course, graphic designer, editor / proofreader, illustrator, website development, various miscellaneous expenses and of course a contingency
We'll be doing all-grain batches without any malt extract to give the freshest flavour. Our "brew in a bag" method however will make it very easy to do at home with a lot less equipment than you usually use for all-grain brewing.
T-SHIRT - Imagine the scenario; you're sat at home next to the crackling fire with a beerlab poster above the mantlepiece, reading the beerlab book and looking dapper in the beerlab t-shirt. Oh yes my friend... oh yes
SIGNED HARDBACK BOOK - All the previous rewards plus a super special hardback edition signed by everyone at beerlab. Hang onto this, it'll surely be up there alongside first edition Rimbauds in terms of collectibility (although we hope to write it fuelled by slightly less absinthe)
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING 2013 - All the rewards of the hardback book amount plus three paperbacks for your beer loving friends. Impress your parter by sorting out the Christmas presents over a year in advance!
A DAY AT beerlab - We'll chuck in everything above for you and a friend to spend a day with us down at beerlab HQ. We'll show you the ropes, check out the progress of the open source projects, do a brew and generally treat you like the kings you undoubtedly are!
SHEFFIELD REAL ALE PUB CRAWL - You and a friend will join us on a unique tour of Sheffield's real ale pubs and discover exactly why Sheffield is becoming known as the UK's capital of beer.
We'll focus on freehold pubs stocking the best local and international craft brews. This is for 'serious' beer lovers who want to attain godlike status. Goodie bags and a quick tour of beerlab HQ thrown in. Travel and accommodation not included I'm afraid but we'll be walking between the pubs
CORPORATE BREWDAY - What better way to increase employee moral than beer? We'll come to you for a special brew day at your place of work. You'll be left with a fermenting bucket and keg to put your beer in once it's ready.
Travel costs are included in and around the Sheffield area but any further that 50 miles and a surcharge will apply. Contact us for details
CORPORATE SPONSOR - Partner with beerlab and have you company prominently displayed within the book and website. We’ll give you three days of our time to do with us whatever you want. Brewdays, corporate functions, whatever. Get in touch for more info