Bio Beer Project | DIYbio Barcelona

DIY Bio Barcelona

We are growing our own yeasts and brewing our beer (we still need to buy the grains). The machines were hacked by us and automated (temperature control). But since we have moved, we need to re-install everything. The receipts we use are a mix of my brother’s receipts (He is a biotech engineer working in Seattle), some friends who brew, and our own additions and modifications. We have brew an IPA, a Stout, and two more batches of IPA. We brew mainly for internal consumption and for learning the process. We have noticed that people likes to ferment things, so we think this is a good start and it always helps bringing people and curious. Artisanal breweries are blooming in Barcelona and we want to help to the local scene by building machines and “lending” our setups to small/garage/home brewers. There is the pico brewer from kickstarter, but we see a different target. That one is quite expensive and targets mainly high ending consumers. Our approach is to make it open so anybody can join, learn and brew his own beer. This can be a starting point for future Master Brewers and of course this will improve the whole scene in Barcelona.

Tell me something about your project?
D:We like to ferment things. We like beer. My brother and some colleagues had prepared beer before in America so, we asked for some receipts and found out the required tools. Next week we were brewing our first batch of beer.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)?
D: It is mainly driven by Esteban and Daniel and enjoyed by everybody! Other friends help remotely with receipts/consulting in the beer process. Nuria helped with the yeast part and explained to us the importance of the yeast cycle. 

What are the challenges you encountered?
D: Firstly, open equipment. There are a lot of kits, but there were not many DIY kits. Besides that, the brewing world was completely unknown to us, so our first batches were done with the purpose of learning the process. After we got experience with the process and were able to reproduce a receipt, we decided to move to automate the equipment.

How did you get the funding of this project?
D: From ourselves and from the money we have saved doing our own beer. We got fermenters from donations, and we are also re-using old containers adding filters and valves so we do our own maceration container.

What motivates you to create this project?
D: We know that we will learn a lot through the process. We had to learn how to take care of our yeasts, and how to keep them happy throughout the whole brewing. Then we designed the machines re-using old equipment and adding arduino for controlling. The first motivation was to learn. Then there is the rewarding factor: high quality beer, brewed by yourself, and shared with people around. It is highly rewarding to see people's face when they realize we can do our own beer. It is like if suddenly they remember that beer is not only the canned industrialized watery you get in the store, but is a whole culture, and when done correctly, a highly nutrient beverage. You can easily notice the difference in body, fermentation, smell and taste between an industrial and a DIY beer.

What equipments did you use/are using?
D: 30 L temperature isolating container for maceration of the barley; 30 L container with temperature control using a PID embedded on Arduino, a 15 L glass fermenter and a 30 L stainless steel fermenter. As tools we have a densitometer,  A modified cooler box?, an industrial shaker, CO2 tramps, copper grids and valves.
But we are thinking in adding a turbidimeter or spectrometer in different stages of the process, adding ph sensors, and if possible, an alcohol sensor. Our dream was to automate the process to such level you could only add the materials and select the receipt you want. Run it and get your beer ready to ferment after six or eight hours.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it?
D: We started on summer last year, but the lab moving was in the middle so we are a bit on hold. We have done five batches already of IPA, stout and american IPA. For now, we want to focus on the equipment and the process.

What do you think your project can help the world?
D: I remember a saying about the handcraft brewing in America, "hand craft beer produced only 5% of the beer consumed in America, but it employed more than 50% of the people who works in this industry". They are very inefficient, but they produce a high quality product, nutrient, they create community and they employ people. So we thought this was our chance to lend a hand to the industry and develop a low cost, open source, DIY fermenting machine. We are aware of the pico-brewer or other kits, but they tend to be quite expensive.

What are your plans after this project?
D: Finish automating the whole process in a single machine that could be later used to ferment other beverages using yeast, or to adapt it to ferment with bacteria.

(If project is not yet done) Do you think your project would be successful and useful?
D: Yes. In the process we want to generate open protocols, open equipment and software which could be replicated by others around the world. So, more brewers will mean more variety of beer, more employment and more people enjoying a nice quality beer. So, everybody wins!