The ancient tradition of brewing beer doesn't need to be complex, but that doesn't mean we can't make it complex.
The most time-consuming parts of the brewing process are monitoring temperatures and moving liquids. This interesting automated brew system (with a LEGO NXT for its brains) monitors the temperatures and controls the pump mechanisms. Most systems of this type still rely on a human to do these tasks.
You know an engineer is involved because a control box with power supply and relays is mounted on the side of the frame. Not only that, but it is the first thing the guy wants to show off in this YouTube video.
@anon0586736 Wow, I wish I would have been at NI Week to see it. NI does a fantastic job in pulling these demos together. Would you be interested in bringing your rig to DESIGN West 2014 in San Jose in April???? I am the General Manager of the event and am looking for cool stuff...
Ha! Well, it was actually on the Expo Floor last year (NI Week 2012). I'm the proud designer, builder and owner of this brewery, and it really is quite amazing that NI helped put together such a cool marketing demo out of a hobyist project. To be quite honest, I'm currently partaking in a beverage brewed on it while I plan my recipe for tomorrow's brewing session. It was a fun NI Week demo, but it has turned into a really fantastic home brewery system.
I noticed that several of the rigs used copper and brass fittings. Since many of the components of beer are quite reactive, I'd be concerned about toxic copper salts forming. In addition to copper, brass and bronze fittings contain lead. The state of California has warnings about lead in brass and bronze even for your bathtub fixtures. There's also concerns about aluminum and plastics leaching. Most breweries use stainless steel throughout.
But then again, these toxins may pale compared to the mind numbing and beer belly creating effects that are the major achievements of drinking beer.
Some buddies and myself built an automated home brewing system for our senior design project in college last year, we really learned a lot. These projects are great, it's always interesting to see different takes on design and control.