Introduction: Automated All Grain Electric Beer Brewery for 100 €/USD
Hi friends and fellow brewers,
This instructable will teach you how beer is made, how you can make beer, how to make an inexpensive brewery how to automate the brewery you made, and finally how to easily connect your brewery to wifi to collect important brewing data to your phone !
Check out his vid real quick to get the basic idea:
In this instructable you will learn:
- 1. All about brewing beer - if you are not interested in automation this will still be a great read
- 2. The most modern and efficient ways of brewing beer in 2016, like «brew in a bag», «ice chill», «no chill».
- 3. How to make a strong mashtun/boiler from an inexpensive polypropyleen fermenter or unloved steel barrel and some used water cooker heater elements. Also which taps and heater elements give the most value for your money and how to calculate which parts you need easily. You can easily brew with this and skip the automation process.
- 4. How to turn your mashtun/boiler into a complete and fully automated microbrewery that can put out 60 liters of fantastic beer every 2 to 3 hours. We will use arduino and the esp8266 for this. Total production cost for everything +- €100,00. Shopping list is included aswell as easy to follow schematics.
- 5. How to make a fancy smartphone or tablet app (wifi) to keep track of all the wonderful brewing while sitting on the porch, sleeping, out in the store, mowing the lawn, out at the pub… ANYWHERE!
- 6. A well documented list of the greatest all grain beer recipes I know of.
The beer brewery you will make features:
- 1. 60 liters capacity (per 2 -3 hour brew)
- 2. 3 kw heater elements
- 3. Smartphone notifications telling you exactly what to do and what goes on (never forget a step again!)
- 4. An OLED display with critical sensor data and two four digit displays
- 5. Fully automated time and temperature control from strike water to bottleing (never miss a mark again!)
- 6. Easy to adjust settings, so you can adjust your brewery for any type of beer (or other brew for that matter)
This instructable is for:
- 1. The beginner in beer brewing. I will explain everything in detail from the beginning. Brewing beer in an automated way is much easier then manually because my code handles most for you. The great art of time and temperatue control and remembering brewing steps will never be a problem for you but i will still educate you about them!
- 2. The beginner in electronics or code: No prior knowledge is required. I give comments explaining what goes on, but all you have to do is follow my lead.
- 3. The advanced homebrewer. This instructable is a great way to step up your small to medium scale brewing game A LOT and increase brewing precision to unprecented levels!
- 4. The no budget microbrewer (like me). You are good at making beer, but have no idea wether it will sell? Follow this instructable and you will be able to output a max of 150 to 250 liters of fresh sparkly beer every day with only a 100 euro investment and minimal effort in the actual brewing process. You can upgrade to the fancy shiny stuff when you have sold your first 10 000 liters, not now.
Read on if all the above sounds mighty sweet to you!
DISCLAIMER: All images used in this instructable are either self made or from commercial websites who do not mind their wares being linked to. The source will lead you to their store. All images contain references and links. I am not associated with any good or service mentioned in this instructable. Working with high currenct and hot liquid can be dangerous. Be careful and consider if this project is within your skill level to safely execute before you begin.
Step 1: Why This Instructable?
I had a problem. I am a young Belgian man who loves beer. I like a quality beer with dinner, with friends after work, on a weekend get together… I like beer a lot ok! But after moving to Norway I discovered that quality beer is not always equally easily accesible or fairly priced. Lager goes for 3 euros a can in the supermarket here in Norway, a Belgian trippel for 6 euros, at a pub you are looking at 10 euros for a single beer!
This situation was unsustainable for me, so I built my own brewery and combined my knowledge of electronics with my love for beer. Because of all the expensive beer I had bought in pubs, my brewery had to be affordable (I was broke). It also had to be long lasting (a lifetime – I dont plan on quitting beer), easy to clean, and fully automated so I dont forget any crucial steps. This great instructable is the result of three months of research. I will guide you through ALL the steps it took to make "Stacey", my first brewery.
Step 2: Beer Brewing Steps: What Is Beer Really, How Is It Made, What Is Brew in a Bag (BIAB)?
In this part I will explain how beer is made and what the various steps of the brewing process consist of. Beer consists of four crucial ingridients: water, grains, yeast and hops. The proces of turning these from a yucky blend into a christal clear divine beer is much simpler than you might think. Below are the basic steps every beer goes through. Follow along with the the cool graphics Brewdog freely shares with aspiring brewers (Click here to learn more about Brewdog and read their complete maual called DIY dog - it is awesome). If you dont understand all the terms at first, dont worry. Just read the steps again and look at the glossary I included in pic 2.
- Firstly processed grains (known as the «malt» in beer brewing) are crushed. This is important as it ensures you get everything (enzymes and starches) out of your malts when soaking them in water. Good brewery stores will chrush your malts for you when you buy, but remember to ask. It saves you the cost of buying a crusher.
- Next, water is heated in a large barrel «the mash tun». This water is called the «strike water». The temperature of the strike water differs for every recipe and needs to be VERY precise. Once the strike water is at the desired temperature, the grains are added in a large porous nylon bag to the strike water for about an hour (time depends on recipe). This process is called «the mash». During the mash the water temperature needs to be held constant as accurately as possible. Some recipes (like belgian beers) call for severall temperatures to be held, one after the other for set time frames. It’s easy to see how a temperature sensor and micro controller can really increase the quality of this process. The temperature and time of the mash determines how much sugar from your grains will turn into alcohol and how much will remain as flavor. The process is really complex on a biological / chemistry level. Click here to learn more. As a brewer however, all you need to know is: follow the recipe's temperature exactly to make great beer, wander off to far and funky stuff will happen. Remember to stir your grains a bit during the mash, they should not clump together.
- Once the mash is done, what you are left with is called "the wort". You need to remove your malt from your wort now. In traditional and industrial brewing this is done by draining your liquid to another vessel ("the boiler") and leaving the malt in the mash tun. In the last years however, homebrewers have come to realise that this process is very inefficient because you need two vessels. Two vessels means more space, more cleaning, more cost, more fuss. Modern homebrewers therefore place their malt in a nylon bag in step 2 before the mashing. Once the mash is finished they simply lift the bag out of the mashtun and voila! Wort ready! This process is what is called "brew in a bag". For more detailed info check out this link.
- Once the malt is seperated from the mash (now called the wort), the malled is rinsed or left to soak out in a seperate smaller vessel or hung in the brew bag above the mashtun. The reason is that severall liters of rich goodyness will still drain out of these hot grains. What drains from them is called "the sparge". The sparge is added to the wort as it contains a lot of the sugars that will be converted to alcohol.
- Now the wort is heated up to boiling point and then boiled for 45 to 90 minutes (depending on recipe). The vessel in which the wort is boiled needs to be partially uncovered so that unwanted elements can vaporise out. Hops are added at various stages of the boil according to your recipe. Added means thrown in. If you put them in a small nylon bag or large tea bag, cleaning will be easier afterwards.
- Once the boil is finished, the heat is turned off. Now add water to make up for what evaporated. The beer needs to be brought down to a temperature of 18 to 24 degrees celcius to pitch the yeast (yeast are the tiny magical organisms that eat sugars and poo them back out as alcholol and co2 bubbles). There are several options here:
a. You use a fancy expensive cooling system, usually very wasteful as it pumps cold tap water.
b. you just leave it out overnight. This is called "no chill" and is considered new and is popular in countries where water is relatively scarce. The brewing community often frowns upon it, but consider that Belgian monks and vikings did not have industrial electrical coolers either back in the fairytale days.
c. You add blocks of Ice "ice cooling" in closed vessels (like frozen pepsi bottles). This is the option I recommend as it is free if you own a freezer and cools very fast when you are just brewing up to 60 liters. You need about 40 procent of your wort in ice to cool real fast. Here is a link that explains the advanced physics behind the concept of phase change energy transfer with a neat calculator.
- Once you have almost reached the temperature your yeast prefers (written on package) you transfer your wort to a new clean vessel called the "fermenter" WITHOUT the hops. The fermenter is often a plastic 30 liter or 60 liter barrel. Just pour or drain it from your boiler to the fermenter. It will cool down another 10 degrees during this process. You can do this violently as the wort needs oxygen at this point. Splashing is thus good here (BUT NOT OK AT ANY EARLIER OR LATER STAGE).
- Now add your yeast to the fermenter. (this is called "pitching the yeast" - just follow the instructions on your yeast package). Put the lid on your fermenter and add an air lock. Leave alone for 30 days in a dark place at room temperature (or what yeast pack mentions is optimal). The yeast will transform your wort to beer.
- After 30 days you will have beer. This beer wont have bubbles. To get bubbles, either add CO2 through a tapping system or CO2 cannister (like a sodastream for example) or add sugar and bottle. The sugar will ferment inside your bottles and make the bubbles in about 2 to 3 weeks. Your recipe will say how much sugar. Use either strong glass bottles or PET bottles. Believe it or not but used Soda bottles (like pepsi or coca cola bottles) work REALLY WELL and are much much cheaper.
- Clean Clean Clean. everything from steps 1 to 9 needs to be super clean. not just rinsed but sanitised (all bacteria dead through heat or chemicals). The good news is that you can just buy a product called "star san". This is a very foamy chemical that kills all bacteria. You leave the foam on your equipment and later it turns into food for your yeast instead of poison. "DONT FEAR THE FOAM!" - you will often read on brewing fora. It is true.
The above 10 steps is how you brew beer. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU NOW KNOW EXACTLY HOW BEER IS MADE! It might seem overwhelming at first, read through it again and look at pics one and two. You will quickly realise it is actually pretty simple. Don't worry if you did not get everything right now. Everything will be repeated in the next steps and the brewery we are making will actually give you instructions through your phone on what to do anyways. You can totally do this! Read on to learn how to make a brewery.
Step 3: Selecting Your Barrel
Remember from the previous step that we are using a very modern brew method called "brew in a bag". In this method the mashtun is also the boiler. This is possible because the malt is in a bag that can simply be lifted out when the mash is done. On a micro brew level (up to 60 liters per brew) this works great. This is not done on larger scales becasue the bag would get to heavy to lift by a single person. To really get the concept of brew in a bag, check out the youtube (BIAB) video I added below, he explains it better then I could in writing. Note that he uses a stockpot and a burner, if you allready own a huge stock pot, this is obviously the way to go for you too!
A typical 30 to 50 liter microbrewery set in stores will consist of a heater, a mashtun and a boiler (see pic 1, source). All three will be stainless steel and the boiler and mashtun will have their own seperate electrical heater or gas heater element. The advantage of stainless steel multi barrel sets is that they will last forever and then some more. You can use all kinds of industrial detergents on steel aswell as automated and heavy duty cleaning machines and robots. They typically cost between 1500 to 4000 dollars / euros. The problem with these is that as a micro or homebrewer you do not have acces to industrial detergents or cleaning robots anyways, you dont have space for this huge setup or money for an investment like this. Nor are you likely to ever be able to lift this again. An additional point to be made is that as a small scale brewer, you simply do not need stainless steel. Polypropyleen wil also last the equivalent of forever if you do not brew more than 100 liters a day.
To save on cost and have an efficient system we therefore use a single vessel with a heater. To make this, you need ANY vessel that can withstand temperatures of over 110 degrees celcius and remain foodsafe. I used a food grade polypropyleen barrel (see pic 4, source) for mine and I strongly recommend this as polypropyleen fermenters can withstand up to 130 degress celcius (well over boiling!) and are very strong and foodsafe. My 60 liter one only costed 45 dollars brand new. PP barrels are also super light to move around and store and easy to drill in to. A lot of advantages. Any myths you hear online about brewing in plastic leaving off flavors is simply false or stems from people using inferior plastic barrels. I researched the topic extensively and found that ANY plastic that is labeled foodsafe will NOT leave harmful content behind when heated. It is the whole point of being regulated as foodsafe.
If you want to make a higher quality version of my brewery, you can also use a stainless steel beer keg (pic 3, source ) or an old large stainless steel cooking pot (pic 2, source). These can often be found used really cheap. I opted for PP because of the weight advantage (I store my brewery on top of the wardrobe in my appartment when not in use). Either way I recommend you buy your vessel locally as the price of shipping is often higher then the actual worht of the vessel.
Step 4: Choosing the Parts for Your Boiler/brewing Tun
In this step we are making the vessel that will both heat and contain the mash and boil.
As I was broke from drinking to many overpriced Norwegian store bought beers, I found the cheapest parts for you and listed them below!
What you will need, in the links the parts that I bought:
1. One vessel between 30 liters and 60 liters. I used a polypropyleen fermenter bucket
2. Two 1,5 KW heater elements with rubber ring. Either new (buy here) or from an old water cooker.
UPDATE 2.8.16: These elements are for 200V to 240V ac only. If you are in the US, buy the same ones in 110V version. They were only recently released by the seller.
3. One food grade, heat safe plastic tap with rubber rings included. (Buy here).
4. Doulble sided copper tape (buy here )
5. Strong duct tape.
6. The brew bag, this one or similar is strong and GREAT value
Some important notes on physics and tips to choose the right parts:
Check out pics 1 to 6. This is the end result. Notice in pic 5 that the heater elements are on one side close to each other. The tap is on the other side. Having the heaters close to each other creates something called heat convection. Basically one side of the barrel gets heat while the other does not. This makes the warm water want to move to the cool spots that dont have heaters and creates a natural stirring effect. If you want to better understand this process click here. But all you really need to understand is that it works helps to get an even temperature and a good flow during your mash and boil. Do this too!. Convection is part of the reason we use two heater elements. Another reason is that most of the worlds domestic wall outlets can only supply 10 amps max. By having two heaters we can use two wall outlets. 1,5 KW takes about 7 amps at 230 volts in europe (Watts divided by the volts of your country's grid - 1500/230) . You need to research for yourself what your outlets can tolerate. It is usually marked on your fuse box.The amount of kilowatts required depends on how many liters you wish to boil and how fast you want your boiler to be. The physics behind water heating are advanced but here is a cool calculator that does it all for you! Here is a link if you are into physics and wish to learn more. For 60 liters you need between 3 kw to brew comfortably in my experience. Using a heater elment that drains more power than your all outlet(s) can supply will blow a fuse / circuit breaker in your homes fuse box. This is not dangerous if you have a proper fusebox at home. If this happens, try the dryer, dish washer, washing machine outlets. They are often rated 16 amps and more.
I would also like to say a few words on the tap (see pic 7). Many tutorrials on making boilers use metal ball valve type taps (see pic 8, store link). In the plumbing section of a hardware store a metal ball valve tap will cost easily 20 dollars for a decent diameter. These often need to outfitted with seperate o rings and plumber paste and seperate connections, easily costing 25 to 30 dollars alltogether. They are bulky too. A poplypropylene tap like the one I used costs under 4 dollars and has all the rubbers included to make it waterproof. Additionnally it is super easy to screw on and off for cleaning and very compact while still having a large diameter of 22mm. Diameter is important so your tap does not get clogged with wort sedement. I strongly recommend going for a cute little polypropylene tap like mine.
Finally there is the brew bag (pic 9). To refresh your memory: the crushed grains known as "malt "go into the brew brag. The brew bag is entered into your brewery when the strike water has reached the right temperature and stays there for about an hour (depends on recipe). Then it is held above the brewery to let the remaining fluid "sparge" drain from the soaked malt. Alternatively the bag is dumped into the fermenter bucket for a few minutes and what leaks from it is then transfered to your brewing tun (we will refer to the mash tun / boiler as "the brewery" from now on as it is all the same vessel in our brew process). The brew bag is supposed to have a lot of grains, Think 5 to 10 kg. So it needs to be STRONG. Obviously it also needs to be poreus. I therefore recommend nylon bags. These are strong and really cheap, They are also super easy to wash and I believe you could even throw them in the dishwasher (but I havent tried). Make sure to get a bag with a diameter BIGGER than your brerery's diameter.
Step 5: Building Your Brewery
In pics 1 and 2 a reminder of what my end result looked like. Below the assembly steps:
- Start by drilling three holes in your barrel / vessel for the tap and heater elements. I used a normal drill for this. It is best to first drill a small hole, then drill a larger hole with a bigger drill and then switch to a smaller drill or sanding drill attachment again and move it in circles around the hole until it is big enough. Work precise. The holes need to be just big enough for the rubbers to fit. Bigger and your brewery will leak
- now install your tap. If you ordered a plastic tap like me this is as easy as inserting it through the whole with a rubber on each side and tightening the nut as hard as you can.
- Now come the heater elements. If you scavenged these from water cookers, they will have a rubber ring and electric connector. Do not damage these, you need them. I ordered a kit for 16 dollars with two heater elements, rings and a connector that works with normal pc power supply cables. I strongly recommend it. Buy it here. The pictures included are provided by the supplier of the kit and show how to install the heater elements. The same principle applies to scavenged elements from water cookers.
- Now put your brewery with taps and heater elements in your DRY shower. Close the tap and fill it up with water. Put toilet paper under each connection and leave it for a while. If one of the toilet papers gets wet, one of your rubbers is not in correctly or your bolts need more tightening. If nothing leaks you are golden!
- Cut the middle out of the lid of your fermenter. The outer ring will be used to hold the bag in place (you place the bag in first, and squeeze the outer ring over the bag so it stays in place - this way you dont need to mess around with ropes and elastic bands and hooks n stuff). The lid is VERY IMPORTANT as it strengthens your barrel.
- The inner part of the lid that you cut out is used for partially covering the brewery so it does not lose to much heat and no nasties and bugs find their way in. I used some plastic hook-ish things for this. Screws would work too. Just remember it is elevated enough so that vapor can go out of the brewery during the boil but nasties have a hard time going in. Vapor needs to easily flow out because some of it gives bad flavors if it is contained.
- I added a pot lid from an old pot to the inner lid so that I could easily grab it. I also liked the look ;).
- It is a good idea to use some ductape to strengthen / reinforce your barrel if you used a plastic one. Not that they will break or warp much without (i tried) but it gives piece of mind and is very little effort. With ductape it wont warp at all during the boil.
- Use copper tape at all the edges where bacteria, insects and inpurities like to collect or are likely to fall into your wort. Copper is antibacterial and blocks these nasty creatures from crossing over. This is not some crazy superstition (although it might not help a lot) but based on real science. Read more about the benefits of copper here. An added benefit is that it makes your brewery look way more advanced. When your friends ask you about the copper tape and you tell them:
"Ancient civilizations exploited the antimicrobial properties of copper long before the concept of microbes became understood in the nineteenth century..
cientists are also actively demonstrating the intrinsic efficacies of copper alloy "touch surfaces" to destroy a wide range of microorganisms that threaten public health."
They are totally going to be in awe.
Your brewery is now done. CONGRATULATIONS. YOU JUST BUILT A MICRO BREWERY!!! If you wish, you can start brewing beer now. Simply plug in two pc power supply cables into your heater elements and keep track of the temperature with a thermometer. This will work just fine. It is however a lot easier to use if you automate it. If you wish to do that, keep reading!
UPDATE: EXTRA DOCUMENTATION
This article got loads of views and great feedback (Thanks guys, I really didnt expect it!) so I have been doing more research to make it even better. Here are some videos I found today. It is basically other people making the same style brewery (not automated) that I did. They confirm that PP is great for a brewery and that this concept works, they also show how to recycle kettles to get heating elements and how the build works. The third video also mentions where to get US 110 volt elements and I think the first guy uses the same elements I did. Guy number four used an old cooking pot for his brewery, wish is interesting too. Note that I did not know about these videos when I wrote my instructable , but they are def worth a view to get some extra perspective and insight while building your brewery. They also give you great keywords to do further research on the topic if you still hunger for more!
Step 6: Automating: What, How and Why?
In the next steps we will automate our brewery. What does this mean? We are going to build a controller that takes the following settings:
- int KiloWatt = 3;
- int mashTemp = 25; // Temp in celcius
- int boilTemp = 27; // Temp in celcius, set to max 99
- int mashTime = 90; // number of minutes you are going to mash
- int boilTime = 60; // number of minutes you are going to boil
- int fermentTimeprimary = 23; // Number of days you are going to ferment
- int fermentTimeSecondary = 22; // Number of days you are going to ferment in secondary, set to zero if you do not plan on using secondary fermenting, this is often not required.
- int yeastPitchTemperature = 24; // The ideal pitch temperature for your yeast, in celcius.
- int fermentationTemperatureMin = 20; // Minimum Temp that the yeast can thrive in, in celcius.
- int fermentationTemperatureMax = 24; // Maximum Temp that the yeast can thrive in, in celcius.
- int HopTime1 = 5; // after how many minutes of boiling the wort should this hop be added?
- int HopTime2 = 10;
- int HopTime3 = 15;
- int HopTime4 = 20;
- int liters = 50; //The number of liters of boiled wort you are planning on having AFTER the boil
Based on these simple settings that are always in your recipe, the brewery will regulate the temperatures fully automatically and tell you EXACTLY when it is time for human intervention by notification on the oled screen or your smartphone. Precision is what seperates a "meh" homebrew from an industrial great beer. That is why automation is a huge added value to the brewing process.
Step 7: Automating: Building the Controller
All these parts together cost about 25 dollars.
I did not include small parts like wire and leds here.
- Arduino nano clone, uno works too
- Arduino nano terminal screw shield
- Wemos D1
- AC to DC converter you could probably get away with a cheaper 700 ma one
- 2 Relays
- Wemos oled display
- 2 Four digit displays
- circuit breaker
- Waterproof temperature sensor - notice you need at least 2 meters of cable
- DHT 11 temperature and humidty sensor
- 10 k and 4,7 k resistor
- large push button
- 2 toggle buttons
Above the shopping list with all the crucial parts I bought. In pic 1 you will find the schematic showing you how to assemble everything. I also attached it in a pdf for higher quality viewing. If you have any questions on this part, just post them in the comments and I will clarify.
I also added pictures from my own assembly process. I first soldered wires to all the dashboard components, next I fixed everything with screw terminals. Why screw terminals? Because they are easy and fast, they are solid and most importantly, they allow for future modifications and tweeking. How you do it is entirely up to you. The purists amongst you are probably going to solder. You could also easily make a pcb. As a beginner you could use a breadboard and hot glue.
I attached everything to three layers of cardboard I glued together. I did this with screws and hot glue. (pink hot glue because it makes me feel sexy when I use it!). My case/enclosure is a simple 10 liter box from the hardware store that I drilled some holes in. When it comes to the case, I recommend you buy a bigger one than you think you need. I started off with a 1 liter one in which I was trying to cram everything, but that is just no fun. Go bigger, overshoot!
Some extra notes:
- The ac power connections I made from 2 old pc power supply cables that I cut in half.
- I put my displays on the INSIDE of my box, that way it is at least splash water proof
- I glued all the cable holes shut so cables would not be strained and to make them waterproof, in case a splash ever hit them. For me that has allready paid off!
- In the schematics you see a wemos d1 mini and an arduino nano. In the first pic an arduino uno and wemos d1. It does not matter which combination of wemos and uno/nano you use. I settled for the wemos d1 and a nano with a screw terminal shield because it was easier to attach wires. I recommend it actually!
- instead of a fuse, I used a 15 amp circuit braker. The choice is yours. Both work.
To get some extra insight and info on how the circuit works, you should also check out my other instructable that uses the same circuit. I explain things in greater detail there.
Step 8: The Smartphone App (android / Iphone)
To make our app we will be using blynk. Blynk is a simple application that allows you to create apps on your phone and share those apps with other people. It is a drag and drop system so no programming language is required and it takes direct control of your arduino's pins. It started as a kickstarter in 2015 but quickly grew to be a professional and highly useful tool. the best part: your app will be created in just one minute and will be fully customisable! Join the blynk forums if you need help or want to contribute (www.blynk.cc). I personally love blynk and use it for all my IOT projects, I highly recommend you do too from now on, it will save you LOADS of time.
Go to the apple store or play store on your phone or tablet and download blynk. Make an account in the blynk app. Click the qr icon on top right of the app to make a new project based on a qr code and scan the qr code in pic 4. You might need extra blynk energy. Energy is the the blynk in app currency to use more widgets and features, it is really cheap though so dont shy from buying it. Email the authorisation token (see pic 3) of the new project to yourself, you will need this in the arduino coding part of this instructable so keep that email open for the next step. Under hardware model, select ESP8266 or wemos if you used a wemos board like me.
Congratulations, you just made a smartphone app. You can share this app with whomever so they can monitor your brewery too. There is plenty of other widgets to choose from that you can incorporate and use to display sensory data from any sensors you may have added. Play around with it a bit and you will totally fall in love with blynk.
Some readers have mentioned that you do not get enough free blynk credit on registration to make this app. This is true but this problem is easily resolved:
Option 1: Buy blynk credit. Blynk is a really great company with wonderful support and great contributions to the maker community. They respond within an hour to problems on their forum and are totally worth the 3 dollar they charge for blynk credit. When you delete an app in blynk you used credits for, you get all the credis back to use for a new app. Nothing is ever lost.
Option 2: Make an app with free credit: You get 2000 free credit upon registration at blynk. Many things in my app are not strictly necessary. I added a menu with tabs, a graph, history graph, 12 setting sliders (you can do this in arduino sketch and it works better) etc. So if you want it free, make your own app from scratch and:
add 1 button to D6, Add terminal widget to V1 and add 3 value displays to v5, v9 and v7.
You will have 99 procent of functionaly and this should not take you more than a minute to set up.
To install the complete app from the qr code you need about 5000 blynk credit. It should work if you have that. Scan for a long time, the in app scanner is slowish.and takes a full ten seconds. Dont give up if it seems nothing is happening.
Step 9: Automation: the Code
I programmed everything in arduino. If you are new to arduino, do not be intimidated. Just download the latest version of the ide from arduino.cc and install. Then install the librairies below by copying the folders in program files/arduino/libraries folder.
1) Blynk library, find latest version on http://www.blynk.cc/getting-started/
2) One wire library https://github.com/PaulStoffregen/OneWire
3) Dallas temperature library https://milesburton.com/Dallas_Temperature_Control...
4) DHT library https://github.com/adafruit/DHT-sensor-library
5) Four digit display library https://github.com/Seeed-Studio/Four_Digit_Display...
6) suli master library (only copy the arduino folder) https://github.com/Seeed-Studio/Suli
7) Adafruit Gfx librairy https://github.com/adafruit/Adafruit-GFX-Library
8) Oled library https://github.com/mcauser/Adafruit_SSD1306/tree/e...
Also note that you need to install your wemos board if you have not . Navigate to http://www.wemos.cc/tutorial/get_started_in_arduin... and select your version of the board and follow the installation steps. I recommend automatic installation through the arduino board manager (It is super fast and easy). Dont forget to select your board later on when uploading. Without the latest version of the libraries and the correct board setting, your code will not work!
Now open the file "wemosbrewery" in the arduino ide and change your settings in the settings tab. Here you set the values you want for your brewery according to the recipe you are brewing. see pic 2.
Important: the authorisation token in the code is the one you find in your phone or tablet in the blynk app and emailed to yourself in the previous step. This one is essential. Also do not forget to change the wifi password and ssid (ssid is a fancy term for the name of your wifi network) in blynk setup. See pic 1.
Change all instances of "firstname.lastname@example.org" in the loop tab to your email adress (see pic 4).
Now upload the wemos code you edited to your wemos board. After that upload the nanobrewery code to your nano or uno board (do not forget to change your com settings and board settings in arduino ide/tools when changing boards). You only need basic logic thinking to understand the code and no brain at all to upload my code. The code is full of comments explaining what goes on so I wont get in to further detail here. If you have questions, just post a comment and I will help you as best I can.
Step 10: Using Your Brewery
If you did everything correctly your brewery should now be fully operational. When you power it on, the oled should say "brewery ready", the two four digit displays should show the temperatures and your app should be updating time and temperature of the wort. If all is that is working here is how you continue:
0) Upload the wemos sketch with your desired brewery settings in the tab "settings" of the sketch if you had not allready. Do not use the settings tab in the blynk app this is currently not supported and the code to make it work is commented out in the sketch. Expect an update next month here.
1) Fill your brewery up with water and plug in the power cables. Put the waterproof thermometer in through the airlock hole in the lid. We use water for testing
2) Open up the app on your phone
3) follow the instructions on the oled and/or your smartphone. Yes it is that easy!
4) When brewing real bear remember that EVERYTHING needs to be SANITISED. A large succes factor in brewing is cleanliness.
Before brewing real beer, start collecting lots of bottles, you are gonna need them (pet soda bottles are awesome for beer). It is also a good idea to start freezing your ice a day or two before. Remember that we use ice to cool our hot wort fast after boiling. We do not actually throw ice in our wort as that would water it down, instead we throw in bottles filled with ice that we can easily retrieve after the ice in them has molten. Depending on your yeast, you may need to make a yeast starter.
When your boil is over and your wort has been chilled you need to pour your wort in a fermenter bucket or cube. Once your yeast is pitched, remember to out an airlock on your fermenter right away. Put the fermenter in a dark room and leave it alone for a month (seriously no peeking or swirling or moving, fight the urge!). A great tip I can give you is to have a thermometer strip on your fermenter. They sell as cheap stickers and work quite well, check pic 6.
Your brewing process is now finished! Hurray!!!!!!
Step 11: Great Beer Recipes
There are a great many beer recipes to be found out there on the internets. Some of them good, some of them shady. As a beginner it is hard to tell good from bad. I therefore strongly recommend that you stay away from recipes from forums or blogs. Fortunately for us, there is a famous brewery that has made a free pdf with all it's greatest recipes, tips, tricks and all you need to know. This brewery is non-other than scottish crowd funded "Brewdog". I personally love Brewdog's beer and I think they really have a recipe for everyone (there is over 200 in their free recipe book) Find their manual "diy dog" in pdf with all their famous recipes here.
Step 12: Pitching the Yeast
Pitching the yeast is often as simple as opening the pack you bought it in and throwing the content into your wort. 90 procent of the time this method will work out just fine. If however you want consistent great resultsm you should really read up on yeast pitching methods and yeast starters. Here is a great source for you. The link leads to an article on homebrewtalk.com. This is a really great forum for brewers and I recommend you join if you are serious about brewing.
Step 13: Bottling
Below I wanna give you some quick tips on bottling your beer:
1. It is totally ok to use plastic soda bottles. They dont block UV so they should be stored in the dark. They look uglier. But they are light, free if you drink soda often and really easy to close because of the screw caps.
2. Here is a lazy trick: If you pour water in your brewery and heat that to a boil, you can use that to sterelise your bottles instead of chemicals. Just dip your bottles into the boiling water for 20 seconds. At the same time you will be cleaning your brewery. Total win win!
3. Bottles should always be stored cool and dark. (no warmer than room temperature and away from UV!). If you stick to that, your beer will last at least a full year (assuming you havent drunk it by then).
It is a good idea to clear your beer before bottling. To read all about proper bottling and clearing methods, i refer you to this great link.
Step 14: How Much Alcohol
A common question amongst starting brewers is " how much alcohol is there in my beer?" You cant know for sure without a lab test. There is no sensor you can add to your brewery to figure this out digitally either. But there is a good way to be almost certain:
Place a hydrometer (they are really cheap and in every brewshop) in your wort right before pitching the yeast. Write down the value. When your fermentation has ended ( You havent seen bubbles in your airlock for a few days), do the same. Now enter both values in an online tool like this one and you will know your alcohol level based on the difference of thickness of your beer because of the transformation of thick suger to thin alcohol.
Step 15: Make Bread From Grains Used in Mash
I am no expert on this so I wont say much here. I just want you to know that the grains you used to make your beer can still be useful. You can use them to make really great bread. So do not just throw them out and consider trying this! To learn how to make awesome bread with your spent grains, check out this great instructable!
Step 16: Brewing on the Next Level
You are now a great homebrewer. You know all about the various techniques and concepts in beer brewing and you have the most efficient brewery design at your disposal. How could you possibly improve?
Well there are a few more things you could do to really take your brewing to the next level:
1. Use a ph tester to make sure your wort is at ph level 5.2. This will give better and more consistent results. If it is not at 5.2 there is additions in your brewery store that increase or decrease acidity.
2. Add irish moss 15 minutes before the end of the boil. This will give you a clearer beer.
3. Use a fining agent like gelatin before bottling to clear your beer.
4. Have a steady temperatue during fermentation.
5, Make a yeast starter several days before you plan on pitching your yeast.
(Image made myself during a long train ride - in case you were wondering)
Step 17: Water
This may sound like a silly step but as reader "Rich285" pointed out, water is a crucial beer brewing ingridient and not to be taken lightly. Myself, I get Norwegen mountain water straight from the tap, so I am pretty spoiled. But being a former Belgian city boy, I know all too well that getting great water from the tap is not always guaranteed. I guess what I am trying to say is this: if your water from the tap tastes great, it probably is great for brewing. If you dont usually want to drink your tap water, dont use it for brewing either. If you stick to this rule, you will be just fine.
The pro's however will throw fancy words at you like "ph-level", "alcaline", "acidity" and other little mean molecules and atoms. As a starter, I would stick to my "If you can drink it, you can brew with it" rule, but as you are progressing it will pay off to learn more. The most important tip here is to get your mash level around 5.2 (You measure that with those ph testers paper thingies - pic 2) . I added a few great links for you to study when you come back for your second read up after finishing your first batch! I also found a video of a pro brewer telling you all I just old you, but in a sweet voice.
Link 1: http://byo.com/malt/item/1571-water-tips-from-the-...
Link 2: http://beersmith.com/blog/2013/08/26/water-alkali...
Step 18: Final Thoughts
This instructable was the result of months of research. I now no longer drink overpriced crappy Norwegian supermarket beer but my own clone of the beautiful Belgian Leffe blonde. I wish the same for all of you and hope that together we can all bring better beer to the world.
Any feedback on this instructable is greatly appreciated, it is also entered in a few contests so if you liked it, please vote ;),
I will read all comments and answer any questions. The code is a work in progress but is fully functional right now. Expect updates in the future though, to make it even better!
Ruben Marc Speybrouck
(image courtesy of classic art memes - check them out if you like fun)