Almost 21 years ago, my oldest daughter, Kathryn was born. The night before she was born, I brewed my first batch of beer. It was an American Pale Ale extract recipe that I cooked up on the stove. That batch was to kickoff a lifelong hobby that has taken me through many engineering adventures leading up to my current enterprise.
After several years of extract brewing on the stove, I got fancy and built a three vessel two tier brewing system. The showpiece of version 2 was a Recirculating Infusion Mash System (RIMS). This brewing technique creates a pumped loop in the mash tun that takes sweet wort from the bottom of the grainbed, heats it up to mashing temps, and recirculates it to the top of the grain bed gently via a manifold. The technique does indeed work, increase the overall yield of the mash and setting the grain bed over an hour resulting in crystal clear sweet wort entering the boil vessel.
Version 2 RIMS was controlled by an Omega CN9522-C2 PID controller. This small embedded computing device takes a temp input from the loop, and then uses a pulse across a solid-state relay to heat a hot-water heater coil in the RIMS before it gets recirculated. The only other electrical “thing” in the system was my Little Giant MD2-HC corrosive liquid pump. So the instrument box contained two waterproof light switches (one for power and one for the pump) and the Omega controller. Everything else in version 2 rig was manual. I had tri-clover clamps, brewing hose, and copper lines connecting everything together.
I used v2 happily for more than 15 years. Several years ago, I “got busy” with work, school, church, scouts, and life, resulting in a brewing hiatus for the last 4 years. But two things have happened lately to get me started back into my beloved hobby. First, a friend of mine opened a wood-fired pizza shop several miles out of town. Having tasted my homebrew before, he asked if I was interested in making some beer for his weekend pizza fanatics. This by itself wouldn’t have gotten me started, but Kathryn came to me several months ago and asked if I could make a batch for her 21st birthday (in December). She wanted the same recipe I made the night before she was born. Well, how can I turn that down?
And so, the journey starts. My goal in version 3 is to control the RIMS and all flow control with a Raspberry Pi. There are several reasons for doing this. First, it’s fun. This project encompasses mechanical, fluid, electrical, and software engineering. Second, no one has done it the way I’m going to do it. Third, by extending some new technologies like Internet of Things (IOT), I can do some neat stuff with the controls (eventually).
So this thread will include a diary of my Sweeney Brewery Version 3 adventure. Sometimes, I’m sure it will get tedious as I recount details so that others following behind me can duplicate the work. But it should be an interesting exercise, hopefully not in futility.