Home Brewing Automation with Arduinos

Arduinos are a new breed of open source microcontroller that can be used for a variety of purposes. One of the purposes for which Arduinos are being used is in the making of beer. The stages of beer brewing that can be automated and computer controlled via the use of these microcontrollers include mashing and the boil, although mashing is the primary application of these technologies. Here we will introduce a variety of Arduino controlled units and explain their application.

Home Brewing Automation with Arduinos
Home brewing with Arduinos open source microcontrollers allows home brewers the power to build complete brewery automation systems.

Simply put, microcontrollers are small computers built into a single integrated chip that have built in RAM, ROM, processor, and programmable in/out peripheral switches. Microcontrollers are used in many fields for many different applications, including newer cars, some medical implants, remote control units, photocopiers, power tools, toys, and the list goes on.

An Arduino is such a microcontroller, plus the software needed to program it. The big difference between Arduinos and other microcontrollers is that Arduinos are open source. This means that anyone can use the Arduino design, mass produce it, or just make a small amount of Arduinos for personal use, with no fee paid to the inventors of the device. The only catch is this: if you use an Arduino and modify it, your work modifying the Arduino must be contributed to the Arduino project, and you cannot then patent the newly modified Arduino. In this way, the Arduino project encourages sharing of knowledge by building a huge, user-fed knowledge base upon which to expand the applications of the device. The open source nature of the project also encourages entrepreneurship by providing inventors, builders, and makers with useful tools to apply to their particular vision.

Arduinos can be purchased pre-assembled, or parts can be bought to build your own. According to Wikipedia, by February 2010, approximately 120,000 Arduino boards had been shipped. Considering that the project started in Italy in 2005, that is a record of pretty phenomenal growth. The founders of the Arduino project, Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles named the Arduino after a bar called Via Arduino. In Italian, this means "strong friend", and is a male name (the equivalent in English being Hardwin). Given this knowledge, it is no wonder that Arduinos (Hardwin-Os?) have been used in the development of specialized home brewing equipment!

The folks at Halfluck.com have developed an all-grain brewing machine called HABS (Halfluck Automated Brewing System). Halfluck claims that this unit produces a batch of all-grain beer - UNATTENDED! The unit runs on a standard 120v household AC power system, has remote control capability, built in cleaning mode, and is built of readily available parts. You can see the full description of the unit here.

Another all-grain Arduino-controlled mashing machine comes from Brewing with Yuri. Brewing with Yuri can get complicated, but this unit, being spread out a bit further, shows the different steps for making an Arduino-controlled all grain brewing machine that is a little more garage tech than the slick HABS. You can see this Arduino controlled all-grain beer factory in action here.

Related Articles:
Home Brew Software (Recipe Management) - A discussion on software for home brewing and the components that make these recipe management organizers so important for home brewers.
Building a Keggle: A Keg Conversion Project - Learn how to make your own keggle for home brewing beer.
Home Brewing in the Stone Age - Beer is an ancient drink. Ever changing, the beers of today differ greatly in variety, yet all have their roots in the infusion of barley into water

Thinking about upgrading your home brewery? Browse our Professional Home Brew Systems.