It’s been a while since I mentioned beer, specifically the White House Honey Porter recipe (currently in bottles! Very tasty!), but if you’ve seen me in person in the last year we’ve probably talked about it – assuming you like beer.
I’ve made 4 or 5 beers over the last year and the process is starting to become second nature. I’m still not completely confident in my ability to tweak recipes or make them up from scratch but I’m experimenting with the process to figure out how I can make existing recipes taste like quality beer rather than half-assed homebrew.
I ascribe the fact that I haven’t made any really terrible beers to Rebecca’s experience with sane sterilization methods from her biology background. It all seems pretty logical now but I made quite a few mistakes in sterilization the first few times we brewed together.
If we’ve talked about beer recently than you’ve probably heard me say that homebrewing lacks reproducability. The most complex homebrew setups might have temperature on first and second fermentation but the process of moving between vessels and time spent in each vessel is still manual. Even though I’m new enough where I don’t even know if these things make a difference (though the literature talks about avoiding excess oxidation – a transfer issue), it feels like too much variability to be able to reproduce a beer recipe that you really like.
That’s why I like the idea of brewbot. Details are a little fuzzy on the kickstarter site but it’s essentially an arduino controlled brewing setup where multiple brewing steps are automated for you (ignore the part where it says “brewing… with an iPhone”, as far as I can tell the iPhone is just a way to monitor its status). Hidden away like it is, it almost feels like it takes automation too far where a machine just brews generic beer for you constantly without your input.
To some degree, homebrewing is about the different tastes that multiple brewers can get from the same recipe. Not all different tastes are bad tastes after all – take the case of Brett yeasts that are typically considered bad bugs to have in your beer, some fancy microbrews have been using Brett to achive a very particular taste that’s really good.
The truth of the brewbot is that you still have to decide on a recipe and clean everything and put the system together so there’s work involved and choices to be made and that would still make brewbot brews unique.
Still, if I could brew 5 gallons of beer every two weeks (and I could, with an automated system like brewbot) I would have more beer than I could drink. A lot more.
I would really like to brew, say, 12 bottles of a different recipe every two weeks and see how each tweak changes the beer before gearing up to a 5 or 15 gallon batch. However, as I’ve been reminded by my personal biologist, these biological processes do not scale linearly and taste will vary if you’re using the same parameters for small and large batches.
It would be a good start for larger batches though. And less floor space than a brewbot machine which seems oversized for a regular kitchen from the photos. There’s always room for another kickstarter though, right?