Monday, January 10, 2011

Big Bang the Brew

Shortly before the new year we decided to brew another batch. The purpose was to move  towards automating the the brewing and fermentation process. Of course we also try to get more experience about brewing and we aim to go full grain. In order to automate the steeping it is a good idea to move from gas to electric.  Its easier to automate the temperature control for the steeping.

So we acquired a 2 KW heating element from our favourite beer brewing supply store. It was then necessary to fit it into the keg. To do that The keg offered a second grind-core concert as a whole was drilled in order to fit the heating element. 

Bjorn holding the keg through the drilling.
Drilling Piet in action.

The end result.

Of course the whole was a few millimetres too big and an extra washer had to be made. This was kindly laser cut for us in an adjacent workshop. Also the seal that came with the heating element was to small another one was bought at the local hardware store. the internal diameter of the seal was 31mm instead of 40 but it all assembled to perfection.
The other addition in this brew was the temperature sensor. We bought a usb temperature sensor Just like the one depicted here. 
USB temperature sensor
In the final assembly, already under water we also put the temperature sensor inside a bit of garden hose mainly to prevent it from moving around and touching the heating element as the water started to boil.

Final assembly filled with water and a little hose to shield the sensor
As for the beer characteristics we decided to do a basic beer too keep things simple you can find the Big Bang Recipe over at hopville

 After boiling for an hour, the beer was cooled and then poured into the fermenter that was previously sanitised. You can see in the next picture the whole assembly with the wort cooler inside the keg and the laptop displaying the temperature readings of the whole session.

And here is the graph for the whole night. A nice feature of the sensor we are using is that it generates a huge outlier value response to the power surge when the power is switched on or off in the heating element. You can see in the graph a -96 value which corresponds to that event. A full data analysis would explain what went on all night with the keg but it will do it more justice if it was done on a separate post.

For some of you the style of the graph will feel familiar. It is indeed gnuplot that produced the graph.

Here is the family picture too dark obviously, but its in the dark that the best beers are brewed.

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