In case you’ve been living under a rock, craft brewing has grown exponentially, and high tech equipment manufacturers have taken note.  What used to be strictly available for the big guys, the internet of things has now come to brewing, resulting in a better beer.

Bold City’s Brewmaster, Brian Miller, values the artistry his team employs with each batch they create.  He also values their health, and lifting 50 pound bags of malt everyday can do a number on the back.

Using advanced PLC programs, Brian can choose which digitally-stored recipe he wants to use, and the system will automatically measure out the malts, water, mash time, and even actuate the valves.  But what does that mean for job security?  “You still need someone with the ability to understand these new technological advances.”  Backs are saved, jobs are kept and artistic passion remains intact.

One of the biggest accomplishments with the interconnectedness of devices comes down to the ability to monitor brewing from anywhere.  No longer is the brewmaster in the dark while away from his equipment.

“You can now change the temperature for tanks with your iPhone!  You can also have carbonation systems that will get the carbonation exactly where you want it, hold it there, and even chill it.”

Besides their convenience, connected sensors also give the ability to identify potential issues before they become catastrophic.  For example, the manufacturer of Brian’s chiller can alert him when there’s a problem with the compressor or freon levels before he even knows about it.  Combined with the automatic back-up systems, now there’s time to fix the problem.  The end result, advanced notification technology leads to less bad batches, saving craft brewers moola everywhere.

No matter how great the tech, it all comes down to taste.  Traditionally, plate-and-frame filters are used to filter out yeast, hops and protein from the beer.  Unfortunately, some of the flavor is stripped away too. Lucky for microbreweries, with the increased availability of centrifuges, taste stands to improve.  Centrifuges mechanically spin the solids out of the beer, leaving more of the beer intact.  Even better, centrifuges increase brewery throughput since they decrease production time.

Every company has a certain amount of unpleasant red tape, so any advances that make the delivery of the product easier is a huge plus.  Brian is now able to automate and streamline ordering using an iPad to call-up a history of how well certain beers have performed at a particular venue.

Even smaller breweries can easily track how many kegs have left their warehouse by using RFID tags and readers.  Plus, packaging equipment has become automated, saving time and eliminating human mishap.

As for the future, conservation efforts during the brewing process seems to be an upward trend.  As more people use water recycling with their brewing or alternative energy, the cost for such technology decreases.

While many are split on fully-automated brewhouses, Brian is adamant that the most important objective is keeping artistic integrity intact, all while avoiding becoming simply a “button pusher.”  No matter how great the technological advancements, the basic steps for brewing will always be the same.  “We’re old-fashioned with the way we brew.  It’s been done this way for hundreds of years, it’s worked, and it always will.”

Did You Know?

From the experts at the Beer Department, here are some fast facts to impart on your beer drinking buds at your next cookout…

  • As of 2013, there are now 2,722 breweries, the highest count since the US celebrated her centennial birthday.
  • Florida is number #34 per capita in beer drinkers.  North Dakota is #1.
  • It takes about 40 billion yeast cells to ferment one bottle of Budweiser.
  • The highest consumption of beer is on July 4th.  Halloween and Easter are both bigger beer drinking days than the Super Bowl.
  • 77% of America’s hops come from the state of Washington.
  • Beck’s beer was the first German beer to use green bottles for brewing and selling.
  • There is a giant cloud of alcohol floating in space.  It would fill 400 trillion pints of beer.  Too bad it’s 10,000 light years away.
  • 0.7% of the world is enjoying a cold one right now.