With over 100 breweries in Minnesota (MN) alone, craft beer is really hopping. However, they’ve been able to evolve thanks, in part, to the Internet of Things (IoT). When I heard the Thief River Falls, MN-based Rivers and Rails brewery was using the IoT, I knew I had to go check it out. I talked with Jonny Artmann, the head brewer, about a pretty awesome system they use to help with their brewing.
Their system measures temperature and specific gravity using the IoT. This is done using u-blox’s BMD-300 and BMD-301 along with Taoglas’ antenna FXP73 which are prepacked in a ready-to-use system called the Tilt (BMD-300) and the Repeater (BMD-301). The u-blox BMD-300 is a BLE transceiver module with a built-in antenna and temperature sensor. The u-blox BMD-301 is also a BLE transceiver but requires an external antenna with a U.FL connector. In this case, it uses a Taoglas FXP73, which is a flexible flat patch adhesive antenna with a U.FL connector. There are a few differences between the BMD-300 and BMD-301, but the biggest is the BMD-300 has an output power of 3 dBm, and the BMD-301 is 9 dBm. This system works by the Tilt device being put inside the fermenter while the Repeater is placed outside of it in order for the Bluetooth signal to be received through the thick fermenter metal walls. The repeater then sends the tilt readings via BLE to a Raspberry Pi. Those readings are then displayed on a screen using an HDMI cable. This system can be set up to send the readings to a cell phone or tablet as well.
By using this system of u-blox and Taoglas parts, it allows brewers a second way of checking the temperature and specific gravity. Prior to implementing this system, smaller breweries would have to perform manual checks to ensure the temperature and gravity were at the right levels. Now, thanks to the advances in the IoT, they have a way of automatically checking them, which allows a more consistent, more flavourful beer for us all.