At Indiegogo there’s a Linux-based automated beer brewing machine called the Brewie, with 20-liter capacity, plus touchscreen, RFID, and mobile app access.
There appears to be a high correlation between tech hackers and home brewers. Yet, just because you know Java or Yocto, or can explain the difference between RS232 and RS485, doesn’t mean your IPA or stout is going to be anywhere near drinkable. Before you can compete in the World Beer Cup, you will need to learn to walk before you run, or you’ll slip in the spilt mash covering your kitchen floor. (Our own experience with low-cost homebrew kits has been met with hopped up grimaces and polite comments like “It certainly has a lot of character.”)
Brewie alone, and on the kitchen counter
(click images to enlarge)
Perhaps, we wondered, brewing is a job better performed by a penguin? That’s precisely the thinking behind Hungary-based Brewie, which has developed a Linux based home-brew machine. The Brewie is selling on Indiegogo for $1,399 ($1,499 if you think about it too long). The fixed funding round closes Jan. 31, with shipments due Sept. 2015.
At that price, the Brewie may not be ideal for your typical Bro-ie looking to save money on his Pliny habit. But for those who have fooled around with homebrew enough to perceive that it could be a long-term addiction, the Brewie should make the experience far more pleasurable than holding dripping rubber tubes over your head.
Brewie Beginners Package kit
Like most home brew kits, the Brewie is guaranteed to eventually pay for itself by saving you from $15 six-packs of the latest pumpkin amber or doppelbock. The payoff date may take a bit longer to reach with the Brewie, but then again, you might actually end up with drinkable beer.
The Brewie is a self-contained box with several sensor-studded vats where you toss in ingredients. You can brew up to 20 liters (5.2 gallons) at once. The device features a 4.3-inch color touchscreen, plus WiFi, a USB port, and an RFID transceiver.
Brewie touchscreen UI
(click image to enlarge)
That profile led us to ask Hungary-based Brewie.org if Linux might be brewing inside. Yes, indeed, answered Brewie CPO Andrew Tél; the device runs a modified version of Poky Linux on a Texas Instruments Sitara AM3358, a single-core Cortex-A8 SoC. “However, we may choose another processor for the mass-production, maybe an Allwinner A13 or something similar,” says Tél.
The RFID interface lets you save recipes on different smart cards. Tap the card of your choice on the Brewie, and it brews the beer on its own. You are then notified about different stages of the brewing process on a mobile app for Android and iOS, with Windows Phone in the works. The app is said to offer social networking features such as recipe sharing.
The Brewie comes with pre-measured “pads,” or bags, of ingredients. The $1,399 beginner’s package comes with one pad from a choice of four recipes, and ships with four 5-liter kegs to store the beer. You can choose from a menu of 200 pre-set processes for specific beer types.
Adding a “pad” to the Brewie (left) and a custom-skin version
(click images to enlarge)
With all the presets and automation, the Brewie seems perfect for rich folks who want to impress people without actually knowing anything about brewing – and who have enough kitchen counter space to make room for the 71.5 x 32.5 x 45cm appliance. Yet, the Brewie is also billed as a fully interactive brewing device designed for skilled brewers. In fact, the system makes a good beer prototyping platform for professional brewers, says the company.
The device lets you create your own recipes and control 23 parameters in the brewing process, including the amount of mashing and lautering water, as well as boiling and cooling temperatures. You can also add hops at 10 different stages in the process.
The Brewie has a number of advantages compared to other automated brewing machines, claims the startup. First, it has a self-cleaning feature, and considering just how clean brewing equipment needs to be, that could be a significant time (and beer) saver. In addition, the Brewie is touted as being one of the few brewing machines that properly goes through all the temperature stages during mashing.
Brewie’s automated beer-making process
(click image to enlarge)
The Brewie is also said to perform two lautering steps that are often skipped by other devices: recirculating and sparging. Among other advantages, this enables brewing of proper wheat and oat beers, says Brewie.
Summary of Brewie specs
Specs listed for the Brewie include:
- Processor — TI Sitara AM3358 (may change in commercial version)
- Memory/storage — (not specified)
- Display — 4.3-inch color LCD touchscreen
- Wireless — 802.11b/g/n; RFID transceiver
- Other I/O — USB port
- Internal sensors — Level, current, and temperature
- Brewing features:
- Solid state relay control
- Magnetic valves with brushless pumps
- Stainless steel containers
- 20,000-hour pumps
- Automatic water inlet
- Wort outlet (one button push)
- 2x automatic hop inserters
- Other features (Beginner’s model) — 4x 5-liter kegs; 1x ingredient pad
- Capacity — 20 liters (5.2 gal.)
- Brewing time — 5-6 hours, plus approx. 14 days of fermentation.
- Power — 230V/120VAC, 2000 W
- Weight — 25 k (55 lbs)
- Dimensions — 71.5 x 32.5 x 45cm (21.15 x 12.8 x 17.7 in.)
- Operating system — Poky-based Linux; accessible from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone mobile apps, plus a general web interface
YouTube video showing Brewie in action
The Brewie is available on Indiegogo through Jan. 31 for $1,399, $1,499, or $1,599, depending on how quickly you respond. A Professional version goes for $2,299, adding pro equipment like a ph meter, measuring cylinder, water-quality testing instrument and a balin hydrometer. A Unique Skin Professional version goes for $4,499. Shipment costs range from $50 in Europe to $150 in North America to $200 in most of the world.