Published on September 11th, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise0
Continuous Measurement: Making Better Beer With IoT
Even the most time-honored, even ancient processes can benefit from IoT monitoring. This is certainly proven by DornerWorks with this post at iotforall.com when it applies Internet of Things technology to the beer brewing process. It’s further evidence that data can be harnessed from practically anything and then strategically used to make decisions, fuel automation and more.
Illustration: © IoT For All
Manual methods of measuring specific gravity have been around for ages. Let’s explore ways to make continuous measurements with internet-connected devices.
Beer is a popular beverage around the world, but here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it’s a bit more. There’s a reason Grand Rapids is known as “Beer City, USA.”
Fermentation is the name of the biochemical process where the sugars in a liquid, typically derived from grains or other organic sources, are converted to alcohol and fizz (carbon dioxide) by yeast. It’s the key to making wine, beer and hard cider. Needless to say, with 37 breweries (in 2018) and growing, there is a lot of fermentation going on in Grand Rapids. Because of fermentation’s central role in beer production, monitoring the fermentation process is important to breweries.
We’ve found many breweries use a combination of computer systems and manual samples to do this. But could these manual samples be automated and improved? That was the question we decided to look at closely.
One of the many indicators that quality assurance teams use to monitor beer is specific gravity. Specific gravity is a measurement of a liquid’s density in comparison to water. So, if a beer has a higher specific gravity than another, it means that it has a higher mass given a constant volume. As beer ferments and converts those sugars to alcohol and gas, the specific gravity falls and the beer gets less dense, eventually approaching a point where there are very few sugars left and the fermentation process slowly stops.
Monitoring Specific Gravity in Fermentation
Specific gravity indicates the stage of the fermentation; it tells you when things are on track or when it is largely complete. It also indicates when things are going wrong, like if fermentation gets “stuck” and the yeast stops consuming the sugar. There are ways to rescue a batch and kickstart fermentation, but you need to know about them. Enter automated specific gravity measurements, a perfect application of IoT’s benefits in the brewery industry.