Over the last few years we've learned a lot about making beer. One of the things we realized was that if you want to tweak your recipe, you need to control and record the temperature throughout the entire process. Leo designed his first brew machine a few years ago. Although several friends and neighbors that tested this system thought it was cool, they all wanted more control and visibility into the process. (When a machine does everything for you, you can't really say you "made" whatever it produced.) We decided to make this latest version programmable and give it the ability to record temperature(and whatever other sensors and controls you want to use) over time.
When we first developed Bieree, we were testing only on a stove with 2-3 gallon batches. Since then, we've upgraded from 5 volt to much more powerful 12 volt pumps. These pumps enable us to run Bieree from a USB charger or a 12 volt battery. WIth these new pumps(which come with Bieree) we've been able to brew 2-20 gallon batches. In these larger batch configurations, we've been using a 3rd pot with a gravity siphon to get increased efficiency(as shown below).
Become a Brewing Master!
Bieree brewing 101 (please click the video below):
In the video above we showed a earlier version of Bieree app, the newer version is more convenient and easier to use :)
Beer Making Part I
Making beer is an experimental process. If you've never made beer before, you should first go through the steps manually to get a good feeling for how the whole process works with your stove/burner/pots/etc. The first step in the process is to MASH your malted(and crushed) grains. After connecting the hoses between pots(as shown in previous posts), you should type the following commands into your USB connected Launchpad(or push relevant buttons on your Android or iPhone): read get 7 sleep 50 do This program will send the microcontroller's pin 7 values once a second. (the temperature probe is connected to pin 7) You should heat the water in your boiler pot(left above) to 150 degrees(F) and note the values being returned for pin 7 while the temperature probe is in the water (you need to calibrate your temperature probe with a separate probe or thermometer). You should continue heating to 160 degrees(F) and note the values. When the water temperature has reached 170 degress you should turn off the heat and turn on the pump that will dispense into the grains using "put 18 100" or "put 19 100"(the pumps are connected to pins 18 and 19 and 100 denotes 100% power). Once you see the water level above the grains you should turn off the pump with "put 18 0" or "put 19 0". Cover the pot and find something else to do for an hour.
After the hour has passed, recirculate the water in the grain pot for a few minutes. (with "put 18 100" or "put 19 100") Switch the output hose from the pump connected to the grain pot back to the boiler pot and run both pumps with "put 18 100" and "put 19 100". Ensure the temperature probe is in the middle of the grains for this process. This process of recirculating the "wort" through the grains is called SPARGING. Since we are circulating hotter water through the grains, you will see the temperature increasing from the temperature probe in the grains. The temperature of the grains can vary as much as 15 degress F depending on where/when the reading is being taken. Once the temperature reaches around 160 degrees, the pump dispensing hot water should be turned off and all of the wort should be pumped into the boiler pot. In the next part, we'll cover how to boil and chill your wort.
Beer Making Part II
Now that you've converted and extracted the sugars from your grains, you're ready for the next step. Rinse out your pot with grains and return it to its previous location beside your stove or burner. (remove, rinse, and store your collapsible steamer) You are now ready to boil the sugary liquid (called "wort") in your pot. You should turn up your stove or burner and regulate the heat with stirring as the wort comes to a boil. As the pot comes to an initial boil, you will see a lot of foam rising as gas is purged from the liquid -> control the heat and stir until you get into a steady rolling boil without foaming. Once boiling, you should add your bittering hops in a sock or porous bag. The quantity and percent "alpha" of your hops will determine how much acidity is extracted from your hops and is determined by the type of beer you are making and the amount of residual sugar you will need to balance the final beer's taste with. The boiling wort with "hop sock" should look similar to the picture below.
You should boil your wort for an hour. (boiling it longer will result in a more concentrated wort that can produce higher ABV(alcohol by volume) but less volume) Some recipes will call for various hop additions throughout the boil. We will focus on a minimal recipe here to get you through the complete process. After an hour, turn off your stove or burner and let the wort rest for a few minutes. You'll see solids forming and settling to the bottom as the wort cools in what is called a "hot break". You should put a gallon of ice into a smaller pot and insert it into the grain pot in preparation for cooling as depicted below.
Quickly cooling your wort is critical to avoid the formation of compounds that will make your beer taste bad. Turn on both pumps with "put 18 100" and "put 19 100" to simultaneously dispense your boiled wort into your cooling pot and recirculate it over the inner pot's cold surface. Splashing should be minimized by putting the output of each pump right against the cooling pot. You should see the temperature of the cooled wort(somewhere around 200 degrees F in your boiler pot) cooled to around 110 degrees and rising(but beneath 125 degrees F) as all the wort is transferred. The temperature will then drop again as the wort is recirculated and no additional hot wort is being transferred. Once the temperature has dropped beneath 80 degrees F, you will be ready to aerate and ferment your wort.
Beer Making Part III
Once your wort has cooled to beneath 80 degrees, you should aerate it. You should first rinse any residues left in your boiler bot out with hot water. You should then pour the wort back and forth between the two pots a few times.(it will develop a nice white foam) You can then sprinkle your yeast onto the aerated wort as pictured above. If you are brewing a simple ale, you can ferment your wort with an ale yeast at room temperature. If you are brewing a low temperature fermenting beer such as a lager or pilsner, you will need to put your fermenter in the appropriate climate controlled environment. If you want to monitor your fermentation to ensure all goes well, you can put a hydrometer in it. The amount of sugar extracted from your grains can be determined by the SG(specific gravity). In the brew shown above, I started with a specific gravity of 1.050. I use a 12V powered thermoelectric cooler. Since this cooler doesn't have tight temperature control for my target temperature (which is around 50 degrees F), I connect my Launchpad's power relay to the cooler and put the thermal probe in the cooler and close the lid. You should first calibrate your thermocouple to the temperature of interest with another thermometer. Once this is done, you can type a simple program like the following to keep the cooler at the desired temperature: read sleep 500 put 18 0 ifl 7 800 put 18 100 endif do Once your beer has fermented long enough (anywhere from 5 days to several weeks), you'll want to bottle or keg it. I made a simple attachment for a handheld CO2 regulator that I use. This enables me to carbonate the beer to taste and keep the beer fresh in my fridge as it's consumed. I used an air pressure check valve (US plastics) and a quarter inch compression fitting(home depot) to a Genuine Innovations 16 0z CO2 keg charger with a short piece of plastic tubing.
These little 5 liter kegs (amazon.com) are great because they're the size of a milk carton but large enough to keg a 2.5 gallon batch with just two. I normally like to let the fermentation process finish in the keg because the quality of the carbonated beer is higher than if you force pressurize it. After an extra week of in-keg fermentation, let the beer sit in the fridge a week(or longer) to develop some more flavor. I use the charger primarily to repressurize the keg as I drink it. Now that you've seen the whole process, if you'd like to make larger batches, we recommend that you connect Bieree in a self priming configuration as shown below. You can connect directly to your boiler/mash pot spigot or convert your existing pots with some inexpensive hardware from Home Depot as described in the rekam1.blogspot.com blogs.
How does it work?
Bieree contains five electronic components: a Bluetooth Micro-controller circuit with two power FETs, two food grade coffee machine pumps, a temperature probe, and a power relay. An Android (2.3 or later) and iPhone (4s or later) application enables users to program the temperature at which pumps are turned on and the timing of these pumps to circulate water at various temperatures from a "hot pot" through a "mash pot". The power relay also enables temperature control of a refrigerator with the thermal probe for lager fermentation. You can control Bieree directly through a button or via your bluetooth connected Android/iPhone.
Bieree can be programmed through any Bluetooth serial app(such as Blueterm(Android) and nBlue(iOS)) Programming Bieree is simple:
ifl 7 300
put 18 100
put 2 0
This "mashing" program tells Bieree that when the temperature probe on pin 7 reaches some temperature, it should turn the pump connected to pin 18 on at 100% and turn the power relay connected to pin 2 off. It also reports temperature every second for graphing/file capture.
put 19 100
put 18 100
This "sparging" program tells Bieree to turn the pumps connected to pins 18 and 19 on after 5000 sleep periods (you can specify how long a sleep period lasts). You can find more programming examples at rekam1.blogspot.com. The iPAD/iPhone app we are developing(open source) will look similar to the screen shot below and will enable temperature/time controlled mashing/sparging/boiling/cooling with a graphical interface. It will also capture and record temperature readings to a file. We hope to be able to deliver this graphical UI to you in techBasic source as a stretch goal. We're also incorporating some standard beer type programs to walk you through the brew process. (some beer types require extra stages)
How we make Bieree
Bieree is made in the USA! Our board manufacturer is in California, our micro-chips are from Texas Instruments, our boards are assembled in Dallas at PTI(Precision Technologies Inc.), and our enclosures are laser cut(by Sam) at the Dallas Makerspace. The thermal probes, power relay, collapsible steamer, and pumps are the only components we don't make(although we do modify them).
Since our first Kickstarter project, Sam and I realized we should do some beta testing with other people before launching our next campaign. Since Sam has become an expert with CAD(and the laser cutter), we decided we should also spend more time on the mechanical package and personalization. We realized that while some people would prefer to brew on their stove, other people(like me) would prefer to brew outside on their patio.
For folks that want to control some heating or cooling device with Bieree, we're including a power relay. We recommend(for your personal safety) that you use a 12V powered water heater or thermoelectric cooler to incorporate heating/cooling control with your Bieree setup.
Sam has iterated on the mechanical design several times. Since our goal was to give you a kit with everything you need to brew a few gallons of good beer, we've included the following components in our $99 kit:
1 DR1 Bluetooth Controller
2 food grade 100C recirculation pumps
1 Temperature Probe
1 Power Relay
1 Laser Cut Enclosure
1 Expandable Mash Tun (fits pots up to 12 inches in diameter)
4 pieces of 100C rated silicone tubing with copper fittings
You will need three pots, a stove/burner, some ice, water, malted grains, hops(a hop sock), and yeast.
For those interested in our Brew Meister's kit($159), we will also provide:
2 5 liter kegs with check valves
1 Pressure fitting for check valves to fit CO2 pressurizer
You will need a handheld CO2 pressurizer if you want to force pressurize your beer.
Here is the controller board:
Bieree Assembling video (please click the picture below to see)
The History of Bieree
Here are some of Bieree's predecessors:
1. Lazer cut the plastic shells of bieree at local makerspace. Production ability 100 pieces per day.
2. Contract local manufacturer to manufacture and populate boards.
3. Order food grade pumps and other parts and assemble at local workshop.
4. Ship world wide, and ready to answer any questions from our backers :)
Who we are
Leonardo Estevez is founder of Leo Innovations LLC which helps interested university students develop STEM centric products. Leo was born in Uruguay and was naturalized when he immigrated to the US with his parents. He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience. He has also designed hardware/software for a variety of consumer electronics.
Sam (Dalong) works for Leo Innovations LLC as a project lead and designer. Sam was born in China, and is passionate about all kinds of inventions. Recently graduated from UT Tyler with his Masters in mathematics and motivated in STEM, Sam has developed this kit using open source hardware/software developed by Leo. Please see details at rekam1.blogspot.com.
Since one of the goals of our project is to make learning about all this fun, we also hope to be able to build a community around Bieree programs and recipes where users could easily share online.
Thanks for your support!
Risks and challenges
We've resolved our manufacturing issues and are now at 99% yield! We haven't finished the iOS app yet, we're using a free text messaging app (nBlue) which works now and hope to provide updates with our graphical version by October.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)