As some of you have no doubt sampled, we’re playing around with homebrew beer. It’s all turned out drinkable, and some of it was downright delicious, but it’s been mostly luck.
Our beer supplies have come mostly from William’s Brewing, and although I don’t have any other datapoints, I’ve been pleased with the ingredients, equipment, and service. The instructions are clear and straightforward, which is probably why things have turned out so well. But there’s one thing we haven’t been following: the brewing temperature requirements.
Temperature is a major factor in the brewing process. We’ve been brewing ales, which are relatively forgiving, but too hot or too cold can impair the yeast activities or impart strange flavors to the beer. We’ve been leaving the beer to ferment in a cabinet in the kitchen, so that it would be in a cool dry dark place, and hopefully brew well. But in truth, we have no idea what temperature it is in there. Sure, I could buy a thermometer… or I could use this as an excuse to buy more microcontrollers.
The result is the “Beerbug”. Right now, it’s an Arduino mounted in a cigar box, placed in the brewing cabinet. It logs temperatures every five minutes and wirelessly sends it to another Arduino, which sends it over USB to a laptop computer, which uses a Python script to read the temperature data and logs it in a Google Docs spreadsheet, which then updates a line chart, which you can see at http://mattborn.net/beerbug.
The source and some of the technical how-to is on at http://github.com/mattborn/beerbug.