It’s Memorial Day weekend and you have nothing to do but brew, drink, and eat. But you could make your future brewing a little more productive with the very clever — and slightly challenging — UberFridge.
Homebrewer Elco Jacobs has posted a very detailed and easy-to-follow guide on how you turn an Arduino Nano and Asus router into an internet-connected temperature controller for your fermentation needs. Total cost? A couple of hours and about $100-$125, assuming you have a fridge. Not the cheapest project, but given that fermentation temperature has a major effect on the outcome of your homebrew, it’s not the worst money you could spend.
Jacobs has posted the code needed to run the whole system on Google Code, but his guide is definitely the place to start.
A genius beer lover, kegerator engineer, and piano recycler has built one of the most interesting kegerators we’ve ever seen. After getting a busted-up, out-of-tune piano for free, Eric Townsley went to work on making something much more useful. He’s posted a whole album of photos to Google+, including photos of the build and the massive CO2 tank that fuels the whole thing. Click through for more.
Craft beer has turned the brewing world on its head in the last decade. The impacts are clear when you look at market share and revenue for some of the biggest and smallest brewers across the country, but it goes further than cashflow. Take, for example, the usefulness of a good bottle opener.
The reason for the pry-off cap’s resurgence is as elementary as the air we breathe — oxygen. Pry-offs keep it in, twist-offs do not, many experts say.
“It’s a pretty simple equation: With a screw top, you can’t get that on as securely as a pop top,” said Joe Osborne, a spokesman for Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo., a 19-year-old company that touts its “eccentric” beers and lagers. “In a nutshell, oxygen is bad for beer. It’s the ultimate enemy.”
The revival of pry-offs comes amid rising sales at craft breweries, which overwhelmingly use them. In 2010, these small-scale, independent operations grew 11 percent in production volume and 12 percent in revenue, according to the Brewers Association, a coalition with 27,000 members that includes small breweries, home brewers and retailers.
And a growing number of people brew their own beer at home and reuse glass bottles — usually with pry-off tops — to store their homemade mixture.
The term “pint” has come to have two meanings — one scientific and measurable, one colloquial and emotional. The popular British pastime of “going for a pint” touches both, where camaraderie meets 16 ounces of our favorite drink.
But when the social definition creeps a little too far into your neighborhood bar and routinely robs you of as much as five or six ounces of beer, it’s time to take corrective action. Fortunately, there’s now a tool for the job — The Beer Gauge.
Invented by a scientist from Boulder, Colorado, The Beer Gauge helps you measure how much liquid actually makes into your glass, helping you to get back that 10 or 20% you pay for but never sees your glass.
The Onion’s AV Club has a great interview with the inventor,who notes: “It doesn’t take much to get short-poured. Because of the way the glass is tapered, a half-inch from the top means you’re missing 13 percent of a pint; an inch from the top, you’re missing 25 percent. After four beers, you’ve sort of missed one.”
The engineering team at Yelp has created a fantastic iPad interface for their office keg. Building off of the existing KegBot platform, they built an iPad app that allows them to check-in with an RFID keycard, track user ratings, and track the amount of beer coming out of the keg. It even tracks the temperature.
Sensors attached to the keg feed data into an Arduino microcontroller, which in turn communicates directly with the iPad via a serial connection. The iPad processes that data and displays it in a snazzy manner along with a description of the current brew. An RFID reader attached to the system allows users to ’swipe in’ to KegMate and keep track of how much beer they’ve had, as well as assign a star rating for the beer currently in the keg (this is Yelp, after all).
If you were going to starting from scratch, this definitely takes some understanding of circuitry, iPad app development, and a host of other technical skills. Forunately, the team at Yelp has released everything they’ve done — the app, schematics, even part numbers — to help you put it together. If you’ve got an extra Saturday afternoon and a little ambition, they’ve made it simple enough to be an approachable project for almost anyone.
The downside? It requires an iPad, which is $500 alone, making this a $600+ project. If you’re interested in a simpler version of this, you can eliminate the iPad and use an old computer with the KegBot software.
If you’ve ever had to settle for a lesser beer just because it happened to be what the store put in the cooler, or if you have so many beers at home that you can’t keep them all cold at the same time, then the Cooper Cooler Rapid Beverage Chiller may be for you. And at only $50 on Amazon.com, I’m considering one from myself.
I’ve seen a few grocery stores with industrial versions of these in their wine aisles, allowing them to keep a large stock of white wine that shoppers can still take home cold. They’re pretty amazing — put the bottle in for a minute, take it home like it came straight out of a cooler.
For those of us who live in apartments but still badly want their own kegerator at home, our options have been limited. The only solutions were impractical (try explaining to your landlord why there’s a kegerator in your bedroom) or sort of gross (draft Heineken is still Heineken).
Gravity kegs are relatively easy to find, and the selection is usually pretty good when you find a retailer who sells them. But up until now, the biggest drawback to the next-best-thing have been that opening one means that you’re stuck with your choice until the 5 liters are gone or until it goes stale.
Not anymore. The Chambrer claims to work with both pressurized mini-kegs (Heineken or New Castle), or with your standard gravity keg.