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BrewNanny™ accurately measures the health and progress of your home brew and alerts you to problems immediately, wherever you are.
BrewNanny™ accurately measures the health and progress of your home brew and alerts you to problems immediately, wherever you are.
158 backers pledged $44,669 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$44,669

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Relax, BrewNanny is watching.

BrewNanny™ monitors your fermentation rate, temperature and even the light level inside your beer. This information is used to watch for conditions that can threaten the quality of your beer and the minute something doesn't look just right BrewNanny lets you know. You even get notified if the power goes out in your home! 

Instant alerts! 

With BrewNanny you can easily monitor the health of your beer24/7 from anywhere in the world using the web or your cell phone. Check-in to see how things are going whenever you want. Relax when you are away from your precious brew knowing that all is well because BrewNanny will notify you via text or email, the minute something needs attention. BrewNanny is always alert, checking your beer hundreds of times per minute. 

Working prototypes of the BrewNanny
Working prototypes of the BrewNanny

BrewNanny is intelligent and uses the latest technology to assure you are alerted when events occur. No need sit there staring, waiting for that first bubble in the airlock anymore. BrewNanny knows the minute fermentation starts and you will know seconds later, wherever you are.

BrewNanny works with plastic pails and glass carboys
BrewNanny works with plastic pails and glass carboys

Brewers Community

But that’s not all. BrewNanny is more than just a product. Not only does BrewNanny connect brewers to their brew, BrewNanny let’s home brewers connect to each other… literally. And that is where things get really interesting. 

Connect to friends. 

BrewNanny is full of high-tech features. Readings from each batch are stored in your personal database. They can be used to create brewing profiles that further enhance BrewNanny’s ability to help you make the best beer possible. And these readings can be shared with your home brew buddies, where ever they are. 

Brew exactly the way you want. 

And one important note. BrewNanny doesn't brew for you. This is not an automatic brewing machine, like one of those bread machines where you stick in the ingredients and a few hours later a loaf of bread pops out. You still brew the way you want, and make your own decisions. With BrewNanny you should be able to make better decisions because you always have a clear picture of what is going on, and what has gone on. BrewNanny doesn't tell you how to brew. BrewNanny tells you what you need to know to make better decisions that make better beer, and you a better brewer.

Easy Installation

Take the BrewNanny out of the box and connect it to a USB port. The device will appear under your "my computer" icon just like a thumb drive would. Click on the icon and the startup page will load in your default browser. BrewNanny automatically detects your WiFi settings and prompts you for a few pieces of information. That's it! There is no calibration, no hardware adjustments, nothing else to do! Basically the same scenario for Apple and Android devices also.

How it works.

The concept is actually very simple. We replace the conventional air trap used to keep air out of the fermenter while allowing CO2 to escape with a valve and a pressure sensor. The valve remains closed initially allowing the CO2 to build up pressure inside the vessel. The pressure sensor measures this pressure and when it reaches a pre-determined point it signals the valve to open, releasing a controlled amount of CO2.If you know the exact amount of CO2 produced you can easily calculate the amount of alcohol that was produced, Basic chemistry. With that number you can predict a lot of other things.Basic math. The valve and the sensor are connected to a small computer chip that controls when then valve opens and closes and also keeps track of the number of times the CO2 is released. This microcontroller is connected to a WiFi transmitter and connects to your wireless home network. The entire BrewNanny device appears as a web site to your network. You just use your browser to connect to BrewNanny like any other web site. A dashboard program arranges and displays all the data for you in an easy to understand layout.  BrewNanny also has temperature sensors and a light sensor to keep track of the temperature of your beer and to monitor the light level inside the fermenter. These readings are also displayed on the dashboard program. Because it is connected to your local network, it can broadcast directly on to the Internet. So you can connect when you are away from home on any device that has an internet connection. If BrewNanny senses that something is going wrong with your beer, it will send either a text message or an email over your home network to the internet to your cell phone so that you are alerted instantly of the trouble.
BrewNanny Pro Prototypes
BrewNanny Pro Prototypes
Currently there are two versions of the product. The basic BrewNanny and the BrewNanny Pro. The basic version is fully functional and is demonstrated in the movie above. The Pro version has enhanced features that will be useful to hard core brewers. Full feature lists and product comparisons are available on our website www.brewnanny.com.

Development History

My motivation for this project was personal. I  have a very hectic life. Married, kids, 2 dogs. self- employed IT professional long commute to work. I would sometimes forget that I had beer brewing. So I wanted to give my beer a chance, I wanted to let it scream at me when it needed me, just like everyone else in my life. So I tried to make a monitor device that would notify me about my beer wherever I was.

Early on I looked for solutions that others may have come up with or similar problems and how they were solved. One interesting idea was a patent that described how to modify the basic air trap and turn it into a data collection device.  I decide to use this design as a starting point and sketched out a model in my notebook to plan for a series of experiments based on this design.
Notebook entry for modified air trap idea
Notebook entry for modified air trap idea

The idea is simple and workable but there is one major problem. You can only measure the number of times the float bobs up and down. It does not measure the volume of the CO2 releases. This is when I realized that if you can accurately measure the volume of CO2 released you can calculate all of the values that would be helpful to you while making beer, such as Alcohol Content, and Specific Gravity.

I started looking at pressure sensors and found that there are a number of sensors on the market that are used in the medical equipment industry that would work. I ordered some and put together my first prototype. 

First working POC design
First working POC design

This prototype was meant to be functional and easily modified, but not necessarily practical. So as you can see it is a bit large and ugly, but it worked. The basic concept was sound and I knew that I only had to refine the design and make it affordable and practical and I would have a usable product.

Early Proof of Concept Design
Early Proof of Concept Design

I started building models with microchips and pared down the design to the minimum needed functionality. 

Early Analog Sensor Design
Early Analog Sensor Design

These first few designs worked but I was not getting the consistency needed to be valuable to the brewer. The problem was that the components used were so sensitive that they were susceptible to background noise, like interference from other wireless devices and electric lights and motors. 

So I searched the literature and found similar sensors that were digital based and were able to block out any background noise and provide a consistent accurate signal. Tests were run to confirm that a clean digital signal would result in a highly accurate consistent reading.

Digital Sensor Signal Analysis shows no Interference
Digital Sensor Signal Analysis shows no Interference
Rejected POC Designs
Rejected POC Designs

7 months later I had all of the technical issues resolved.

Final  BrewNanny Pressure Sensor Concept
Final BrewNanny Pressure Sensor Concept

With the sensor issue resolved I then focused on the data collection and storage problems. I decided to use an off the shelf microcomputer board that is very popular with computer hardware enthusiasts. This has the advantage of being a component that could be purchased instead of designed and built and that was debugged and tested by millions of users. I decided to use this board also because it runs the popular Linux Operating System, which meant that much of the other software I needed didn’t have to be programmed from scratch. I was able to use open source database and web server applications and modify them for my specific needs.

Conceptual Architecture Diagram
Conceptual Architecture Diagram
Final Design with RaspberryPi, digital sensor and custom circuit board.
Final Design with RaspberryPi, digital sensor and custom circuit board.

The final step of the process was finding a way to present the data to the end user. I decided on a dashboard approach and started making prototypes. 

Initial Dashboard Prototype
Initial Dashboard Prototype

Once I had the basic idea down I selected some off the shelf graphics software that would allow a very rich visual representation of the data that would make the readings intuitive to the user. Like Pressure gauges, thermometer and bar charts. Once again I concentrated on finding as much existing software as possible to reduce the amount of custom programming needed. 

Final Dashboard Working Prototype
Final Dashboard Working Prototype
Working Prototype in off the shelf container
Working Prototype in off the shelf container

This is the final prototype using an off the shelf case. The electronics are housed in the white domed container. There is a probe that exits the bottom of the container and extends through a plug that seals the carboy. This probe senses the temperature and light levels and allows the CO2 to enter the device to be measured by the sensor and then released by the solenoid.

Production Timeline

We will not be waiting until we have funds in hand to start production of the rewards. As soon as we have a strong indication that the funding goal will be met, we will throw the switch. Most of the materials that we will need are off the shelf components that we have primary and secondary sources for. The one exception is the printed circuit board. We have the CAD drawings completed and have used them to make a small run of the boards and they have been tested. Once we know we will reach our goal we will immediately order the boards in quantities to complete our Kickstarter obligations. They take 1 – 2 weeks to manufacture.

In our prototyping efforts we have secured many of the other components in qualities and will not need to make additional purchases. This means that we can start producing the sensor stems and pressure control structures immediately. These will take 1-2 weeks to complete.

When the funding goal is met we will order the remaining materials. These include the Raspberry Pi computer boards, pressure sensors, solenoids and outer cases. We have trade credit with these suppliers sufficient to cover the quantities needed for fulfillment so we do not need to wait for funds to arrive. Once these materials arrive it will be a two week process to put the components together, test and ship.

If we assume that we don't meet our funding goal until week 4 our timeline would look like this:

Worst Case Scenario
Worst Case Scenario

 We also have to produce the dashboard software as custom apps for Apple and Android devices and a Facebook application as well. These apps do not have to go through the normal design and coding process. Since the application exists now as a web app, the code only needs to be adapted to these devices.  I have done all of the prep work for the applications and have some code elements completed. I will continue development alone until I am joined by the contract programmers. We have the programmers standing by. Once we know we are being funded we will sign contracts with the programmers and immediately begin production. Again we will not need to wait until Kickstarter funds are received to start. I have very clear specifications for this phase of the operation and the experience of developing the same functionality for the web based app so I am confident that we have a good handle on the amount of work required. We will be doing this development work here in our North Adams MA offices and will not be outsourcing to  offshore companies. This makes the process more expensive but we are committed to this product being produced entirely here in the US. I have 22 years in the software development industry and do not expect any issues regarding software. In the event that there are issues, we can add staff at any point of the process. The software development timeline is as follows:

Worst case scenario
Worst case scenario

The software is delivered via the web so it does not need to ship with the products.

Funding Goals

We plan to use our funding to hire staff to finish the mobile version apps and to buy sufficient quantities of parts to manufacture our rewards. The high tech sensors and valves used in our product are very expensive in small quantities so we need to buy in bulk to bring the price of the product down to a reasonable number. The quantity of rewards that we are offering will get us just above that threshold. We will also be spending money to build jigs and patterns that will assure that the devices are manufactured to very tight specifications with high consistency and quality. A significant sum will also go to manufacturing our product enclosure and custom circuit boards.  Additionally funds will be used for technology licenses, legal expenses, liability insurance and ongoing business expenses.

Risks and challenges

Over the last 18 months we have created about a dozen proof of concept designs and several working prototypes with different technology approaches. We currently not only have a working prototype but have manufactured a small quantity of the devices with the final materials for our beta testing. We have had 4 BrewNannys working and monitoring brewing beer since January 3 of this year.

We believe the risks to be very low. Our design uses a lot of off the shelf components. The components that require certification, like the WiFi transmitters are pre-manufactured and are already certified. The probe assembly and circuit board is the one custom build part of the product. We have final circuits that have been beta tested. We have ordered small runs of the circuit board and included them in the beta tests. All of our materials that can contact the beer are FDA approved. The only testing that we have not completed is a longevity test of the mechanical components. We do have assurances from the manufacturers that they will perform to spec and this insures that the life expectancy of these parts is over 10 years for a high use end user.

We intend to offer a limited number of devices so that we can make our production schedules. The labor required to manufacture the product is available locally in large numbers. We will have to expand our current offices to manufacture the product in large quantities,but for the purposes of this campaign, we should be able to manage in our current location.

The biggest challenge right now will be to port the web based dashboard software to apps for Apple and Android devices. We also need to create a Facebook app that has the same functionality. These are not really technical challenges but putting together the team to get this done in our timeframe will be a lot of work, mostly in the area of project management. We have identified our team and they are on board. Our timeline is realistic but there is little room for any major snag that might come up. We will have to carefully monitor the progress of the software development to make this happen on schedule. The good news is that this is what my primary business is. As you can see from my resume I manage software projects that are huge for some very demanding customers.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Show your support with our Brewnanny t-shirt. Sizes L and XXL available

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    Early Bird Special Base Edition -

    Be one of the lucky brewers that get in early and save $100 off. You don't have to camp out in line to be one of the first, just act fast. You get one of the first BrewNannys made and get delivery before the masses.

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    Pledge $248 or more About $248

    BrewNanny Base Model -
    Fully functional model without the additional bells and whistles of the pro version. Perfect choice for beginners and seasoned pros that just want to concentrate on making better brews. See the website for full description and feature comparison. Full specs available on the brewnanny.com web site (see http://brewnanny.com/brewnanny-base-model/)

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    Pledge $248 or more About $248

    Early Bird Special Pro Edition -
    Be one of the lucky brewers that get in early and save $100 off. You don't have to camp out in line to be one of the first, just act fast. You get one of the first BrewNannys made and get delivery before the masses.

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    Pledge $348 or more About $348

    BrewNanny Pro -
    All the features of the base version wrapped in a Raspberry Pi and Linux OS. Extra cable has access to GPIO ports, I2C interface and ICSP port. Great for those that want to experiment with hardware and software modifications.
    Full specs available on the brewnanny.com web site. (see http://brewnanny.com/brewnanny-pro-model/)

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    Pledge $393 or more About $393

    BrewNanny Pro with External Thermometer - All the features of the base version wrapped in a Raspberry Pi and Linux OS. Extra cable has access to GPIO ports, I2C interface and ICSP port. Great for those that want to experiment with hardware and software modifications.External Thermometer gives more flexibility (see http://brewnanny.com/external-thermometer/ ) Full specs available on the brewnanny.com web site. (see http://brewnanny.com/brewnanny-pro-model/)

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    Pledge $499 or more About $499

    BrewNanny Pro with Intelligent Temperature Control - Control 2 Electrical Devices such as refrigerators or heating pads up to 30Amps each with your BrewNanny. Temperature can be programmed to change based on Time and Date, Gravity, Fermentation Rate or custom formula. 110 V for US power grid only at this time.

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    Pledge $544 or more About $544

    BrewNanny Pro with Intelligent Temperature Control and External Temperature Probe - Control 2 Electrical Devices such as refrigerators or heating pads up to 20Amps each with your BrewNanny. External Temperature Probe allows more flexibility for large fermenters. Temperature can be programmed to change based on Time and Date, Gravity, Fermentation Rate or custom formula. 110 V for North American Power Connectors.

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    Pledge $548 or more About $548

    BrewNanny Pro with Intelligent Temperature Control - International version - Control 2 Electrical Devices such as refrigerators or heating pads up to 20Amps each with your BrewNanny. Temperature can be programmed to change based on Time and Date, Gravity, Fermentation Rate or custom formula. See http://brewnanny.com/international-power-cords/ for plug options.

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    Pledge $599 or more About $599

    BrewNanny Pro with Intelligent Temperature Control and External Temperature Probe International Version - Control 2 Electrical Devices such as refrigerators or heating pads up to 20Amps each with your BrewNanny. External Temperature Probe allows more flexibility for large fermenters. Temperature can be programmed to change based on Time and Date, Gravity, Fermentation Rate or custom formula. See http://brewnanny.com/international-power-cords/ for plug options.

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    Pledge $999 or more About $999

    BrewNanny Master with 2 Probes - Monitor and Control multiple batches at once. Uses stand-alone probes, thermometers and temperature control units.

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    Pledge $1,499 or more About $1,499

    BrewNanny Master with 4 Probes - Monitor and Control multiple batches at once. Uses stand-alone probes, thermometers and temperature control units. Your choice of probes when campaing ends.

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    Pledge $1,699 or more About $1,699

    BrewNanny Master with 4 Probes and Temperature Control Unit - Monitor and Control multiple batches at once. Uses stand-alone probes, thermometers and temperature control units. Your choice of probes when campaing ends.

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Funding period

- (30 days)