How to Choose the Temperature Controller for Brewery

For craft brewers or for those involved in Homebrewing, the temperature monitoring is one of the crucial stages for obtaining a good beer. There are several steps in the brewing process, which include malting, mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, conditioning, filtering, and packaging.

In particular, there are two phases in which the temperature level should be controlled: the mashing (mixing the milled malt with hot water) and the fermenting (the higher is the temperature, the faster and the more turbulent is the fermentation).

According to the different needs it is possible to choose between two paths: the home made devices based methods or the professional devices based methods.

For example, with the open-source electronic platform “Arduino”, it’s possible to create an home made temperature controller simply with a temperature sensor and a relay module (and, of course, some programming skills).

The integration with Raspberry PI regarding the project “BrewPi” allows more advanced algorithms and real time interactive graphs. In the near future the device may support mash control (BIAB, HERMS or RIMS).

On the other way, for more professional uses it is recommended to purchase a specific temperature controller, in order to facilitate the whole process automation. For instance, we consider the need to control two electric boilers with different time/temperature steps.

If you want to use electric resistances controlled by contactors or on-off static relays and you need to independently manage two boilers (with different time/temperature steps and start times), we suggest a brewing temperature controller enabled to program at least 15 cycles. Hence, the device shall be designed to program cycles/curves with control of the process variable in relation to time. A useful feature may consist in recovery the controller status after a power cutoff, in order to avoid the reset process.

Instead, if you want to manage two boilers with one master controller (where a second slave controller is related to the setpoint value of the first controller, by managing the output independently from the detected temperature), we suggest two programmable controllers, connected with serial interfaces. In industry there are two serial interfaces: RS422 and RS485; check the two controllers have the same interface before buying them. The best thing to do is, of course, purchasing two temperature controllers from the same manufacturer.

Notice that programming an industrial thermoregulator can be easier that you might think: just check if the manufacturer has provided some inherent video tutorials, or ask the numerous PID/PLC communities that may help you about temperature controller using microcontroller.