US20170130177A1 - Compostable Container for Beermaking - Google Patents

Compostable Container for Beermaking Download PDF

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Publication number
US20170130177A1
US20170130177A1 US15/416,226 US201715416226A US2017130177A1 US 20170130177 A1 US20170130177 A1 US 20170130177A1 US 201715416226 A US201715416226 A US 201715416226A US 2017130177 A1 US2017130177 A1 US 2017130177A1
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Prior art keywords
container
reservoir
liquid
brewing
base
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Pending
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US15/416,226
Inventor
Avi R. Geiger
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Pb Funding LLC
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PicoBrew LLC
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Priority to US201161449023P priority Critical
Priority to US13/323,537 priority patent/US9228163B1/en
Priority to US14/485,660 priority patent/US20150000532A1/en
Application filed by PicoBrew LLC filed Critical PicoBrew LLC
Priority to US15/416,226 priority patent/US20170130177A1/en
Assigned to PICOBREW, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION reassignment PICOBREW, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: GEIGER, AVI R.
Publication of US20170130177A1 publication Critical patent/US20170130177A1/en
Assigned to PB FUNDING, LLC reassignment PB FUNDING, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: PICOBREW, INC
Assigned to PB Funding Group, LLC reassignment PB Funding Group, LLC CORRECTIVE ASSIGNMENT TO CORRECT THE ASSIGNEE NAME FROM PB FUNDING, LLC TO PB FUNDING GROUP, LLC PREVIOUSLY RECORDED ON REEL 053568 FRAME 0982. ASSIGNOR(S) HEREBY CONFIRMS THE PB FUNDING, LLC. Assignors: PICOBREW, INC
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    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12CBEER; PREPARATION OF BEER BY FERMENTATION; PREPARATION OF MALT FOR MAKING BEER; PREPARATION OF HOPS FOR MAKING BEER
    • C12C7/00Preparation of wort
    • C12C7/20Boiling the beerwort
    • C12C7/205Boiling with hops
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12CBEER; PREPARATION OF BEER BY FERMENTATION; PREPARATION OF MALT FOR MAKING BEER; PREPARATION OF HOPS FOR MAKING BEER
    • C12C1/00Preparation of malt
    • C12C1/02Pretreatment of grains, e.g. washing, steeping
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12CBEER; PREPARATION OF BEER BY FERMENTATION; PREPARATION OF MALT FOR MAKING BEER; PREPARATION OF HOPS FOR MAKING BEER
    • C12C11/00Fermentation processes for beer
    • C12C11/003Fermentation of beerwort
    • C12C11/006Fermentation tanks therefor
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C12BIOCHEMISTRY; BEER; SPIRITS; WINE; VINEGAR; MICROBIOLOGY; ENZYMOLOGY; MUTATION OR GENETIC ENGINEERING
    • C12CBEER; PREPARATION OF BEER BY FERMENTATION; PREPARATION OF MALT FOR MAKING BEER; PREPARATION OF HOPS FOR MAKING BEER
    • C12C7/00Preparation of wort
    • C12C7/04Preparation or treatment of the mash
    • C12C7/06Mashing apparatus

Abstract

A pulp container may contain beer making ingredients during the beer making process. The container may have a bag, filter, or other sieve that may retain the ingredients during the brewing process, and may be compostable and disposable after the brewing process has completed. The container may contain prepared ingredients that may be pre-packaged such that a user may drop the container with the prepared ingredients into a system for brewing beer. In some cases, a container may contain grains and other ingredients that may be used for a mashing step. In other cases, a container may contain one or more hops charges and may have boiling or near boiling water. The brewing system may include recirculating brewing systems, as well as other types of brewing techniques.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to and benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/485,660 filed 12 Sep. 2014, which claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/323,537 filed 12 Dec. 2011, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/449,023 filed 3 Mar. 2011, the entire contents of which are hereby specifically incorporated by reference for all they disclose and teach.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Beer making has been practiced for many years. Sugars are extracted from malted grains through a process called mashing. The sugars are boiled with hops, and the resultant wort is fermented with yeast.
  • In both the steps of mashing and boiling, certain ingredients are added to the process. In the mashing step, malted grains are typically soaked in relatively high temperature water for a period of time, which can range from minutes to hours. In the boiling step, the resultant wort may be held at boiling or near boiling for a similar period of time, while hops may be added at different stages.
  • SUMMARY
  • A pulp container may contain beer making ingredients during the beer making process. The container may have a bag, filter, or other sieve that may retain the ingredients during the brewing process, and may be compostable and disposable after the brewing process has completed. The container may contain prepared ingredients that may be pre-packaged such that a user may drop the container with the prepared ingredients into a system for brewing beer. In some cases, a container may contain grains and other ingredients that may be used for a mashing step. In other cases, a container may contain one or more hops charges and may have boiling or near boiling water. The brewing system may include recirculating brewing systems, as well as other types of brewing techniques.
  • This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • In the drawings,
  • FIG. 1 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing an automated beer brewing system. FIG. 1 is not to scale.
  • FIG. 2 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing a schematic or functional representation of an automated beer brewing system.
  • FIG. 3A is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing a “direct” heating mechanism. FIG. 3A is not to scale.
  • FIG. 3B is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing an “indirect” heating mechanism. FIG. 3B is not to scale.
  • FIG. 4 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing a cross-section of a grain steeping reservoir. FIG. 4 is not to scale.
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing a series of adjunct steeping reservoirs. FIG. 5 is not to scale.
  • FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment showing a method for user operations of the brewing device.
  • FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment showing a method for operations of a brewing device.
  • FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment showing a safety loop operation of a brewing device.
  • FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment showing a method for a grain steeping cycle of an automated brewing device.
  • FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment showing a method for a boiling cycle of an automated brewing device.
  • FIG. 11 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment showing a method for a chilling cycle of an automated brewing device.
  • FIG. 12 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing a device with compostable containers.
  • FIG. 13 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing a grain mashing system with a removable grain container.
  • FIG. 14 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment showing an adjunct container in a beer brewing system.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Compostable Container for Beer Making
  • A container for beer making may contain various ingredients for making beer, such as grains, hops, or adjuncts. The container and its ingredients may be placed inside various compartments of a brewing system such that the containers may come into contact with brewing liquid, which can include boiling liquid. The container may be manufactured from pulp or other materials that may degrade and compost. In some cases, the container may degrade during the brewing process to the point where it may lose some or most of its physical strength, while in other cases, the container may yet still be strong enough to be removed from a brewing system and still contain the wet ingredients after brewing.
  • The container may hold brewing ingredients during the brewing process, which may be a wet process. The brewing process may pass a liquid through the container, typically through an inlet in the top of the container and through an outlet in the bottom. The liquid may be recirculated through the container, often with an external reservoir.
  • A recirculating system may have a heating or cooling system within the fluid path. Such systems may heat or cool the liquid and return the liquid to the container during the brewing cycle. In some systems, the container may be exposed to a heat source, which may cause the contents of the container to be heated. Such a system may apply heat to an external surface of the container to heat the internal contents. Heat may be applied using infrared heat, an external water bath, or some other heating mechanism.
  • An outlet may be sized such that liquid drains from the container relatively slowly, causing liquid to pool or back up in the container. In such a situation, the input flow rate may be greater or equal to the output flow rate of the container. In such a state, the container may hold a quantity of liquid during the brewing process. In some systems, the container may be located in an overflow tray that may capture excess liquid that may overflow the container during the brewing process.
  • In some cases, the liquid may be contained in the container for extended periods of time. Such a situation may expose the container to high temperatures and to wet contents. For certain types of containers, especially pulp and other compostable containers, the container material may be selected to endure such hot and wet contents for extended periods of time.
  • During the brewing process, the liquid may serve to heat the ingredients, provide an environment for enzymatic reactions, dissolve and extract compounds from the ingredients, and perform other operations. The container material may be selected to not adversely affect the reactions, extractions, or other operations. Specifically, the container material may be selected to impart little or no flavor, color, aroma, or other characteristics to the liquid being processed.
  • A container may be made from pulp or other natural fibers. The container may be manufactured by pulling a vacuum on a one sided form, which may be passed through a liquid slurry of pulp and water. The wet pulp may be transferred to a two-sided, heated tool to dry and form the container. The container may be trimmed, punched, or have secondary processes performed prior to being filled with ingredients and used for brewing.
  • The container may be used during the brewing process and may receive hot brewing liquid for extended periods of time, which could extend to an hour or more. The brewing liquid may be recirculated through the container, and may be heated during the recirculation process. The container may lose some mechanical properties during the brewing process, and in many cases, the container may be partially or fully supported in a rigid, reusable container such as a plastic or metal container.
  • The container may have a drain mechanism in the bottom of the container such that brewing liquids may circulate through the container. The drain may include filter paper, screens, holes, or other mechanism by which grains, hops, adjuncts, or other solid matter may be kept in the container during the recirculating process.
  • The drain mechanism may include a secondary material, such as a screen, filter, mesh, or other material that may be attached to the container. In some cases, a filter may be a piece of filter paper, linen cloth, woven or nonwoven material, or other material that may be mechanically attached to the container. The mechanical attachment may be gluing, sewing, mechanical interlocking, or other method of attachment.
  • The container may be, in some cases, a single compartment in which hot liquid may be introduced in the top and drained out the bottom. In other cases, the container may have multiple compartments, where ingredients may be segregated such that they may be introduced into the brewing process at different times.
  • Multiple compartment containers may have several different designs. In one design, a single piece container may have several wells, where each well may capture a single ingredient or a group of ingredients that may be added to the brewing process in a specific step. In another design, a container may be manufactured from multiple pieces, which may be assembled into a multi-compartment container. The assembly mechanism may include mechanical features such as guides, stops, tabs, registration features, or other positioning features. The components may be assembled using gluing, sewing, mechanical interlocking, or other method of attachment.
  • One design of a multiple compartment may have a cascade or spillover design, such that liquid introduced into one compartment may fill up, then spill over into a second compartment. Such a cascade may be used to introduce two, three, four, or more ingredients into the brewing process. Such a system may add or remove ingredients during the brewing process by introducing liquid at one of the cascading compartments such that ingredients in that compartment, as well as ingredients in any downstream compartments.
  • Multiple compartment containers may or may not have passages by which liquid introduced into one compartment may pass under a divider and into another compartment. In some cases, the liquid flow rate in such occasions may be low enough that the effect of an ingredient in such a compartment may be minimal.
  • A container may have a lid or other closure. In some cases, the lid or closure may keep ingredients packaged ready for use, such that a user may merely place the container in a brewing system and begin use. A lid or closure may be sealed such that a user may not add or remove the contents, and in some cases, specific sets of ingredients may be packaged and sold in the container.
  • The lid or other closure may be sealed using glue, stitching, mechanical interlocks, or other mechanism to close the container. In some cases, the sealing mechanism may serve as a tamperproof mechanism that may indicate that someone may have attempted to open or alter the contents of the container.
  • The container may be outfitted with a radio frequency identifier (RFID) tag. Such tags may be recognized and identified by an electronic reader. The reader may be used to track the container and its contents. In some cases, the container may be outfitted with a barcode or other machine readable identifier.
  • Machine readable identifiers associated with the container may be used for tracking any type of information, including the origin of the ingredients, the combination of ingredients for a given recipe or product produced by the ingredients, or any other type of information. In many cases, the machine readable identifiers may allow a system to track the pack date, expiration date, or other information.
  • A beer brewing system may use machine readable identifiers to retrieve a recipe suitable for the ingredients in the containers. In some cases, a user may be presented with multiple recipes from which the user may select one. In other cases, a single recipe may be associated with a prepackaged container. The user may be able to adjust or modify the recipe in some cases, which may finalize the recipe.
  • Beer Brewing System with Recirculating Path
  • A beer brewing system may use a recirculating liquid path with a heating mechanism and a selectable flow path to manufacture beer wort. The system may extract sugars from malted grains in a mashing phase, perform a boil phase, and cool the wort prior to fermentation. The system may use a single vessel or sump to contain the liquid through some or all of the wort manufacture phases. In some cases, the vessel may also be used for fermentation.
  • The beer brewing system may have a recirculating flow path with a flow selecting system. The flow selecting system may cause the recirculating liquid to pass through several different reservoirs, each of the reservoirs may contain ingredients for the wort production, such as grains, hops, or other adjuncts. The combination of multiple reservoirs plus an automated flow section mechanism may allow a recirculating beer making system to utilize a single sump or vessel.
  • The sump or vessel may be used as a hot liquor tun as water is being heated, as a mash tun and lauter tun during mashing and sugar extraction, as a boiling vessel during a boil phase, and the same vessel may also be used a fermentation vessel. Because hot liquid may be passed through the vessel during recirculation, the vessel may be sterilized through the wort manufacturing process, and the use of a single vessel may reduce the cost and complexity of the overall system.
  • A flow selecting system may cause liquid to be recirculated through different reservoirs, each of which may contain a different ingredient for the wort. The flow selecting mechanism may be programmatically controlled, and such a system may automatically control the system to manufacture wort with limited or no user interaction.
  • A programmable controller may control the various components of the system, including monitoring the various temperatures, controlling recirculating pump or pumps, and selecting the flow paths. A recipe may be downloaded to the controller, and the recipe may include a brewing sequence that may define a sequence of flow paths, as well as time and temperature profiles for each portion of the sequence of flow paths.
  • The system may have a series of reservoirs that may contain ingredients for a particular beer recipe. Such ingredients typically include malted grains, such as malted barley, rice, wheat, corn, or other grains, as well as one or more adjunct reservoirs that may contain hops and other adjuncts such as honey or other flavorings.
  • The reservoirs may be removable from the beer making system. Removable reservoirs may make loading, unloading, and cleaning of the reservoirs convenient and easy. The reservoirs may be loaded ahead of time and even sold or distributed as a pre-loaded unit for brewing a particular style of beer.
  • The reservoirs may contain a collection area and a drain, which may collect liquid that may have passed through one or more of the reservoirs. The drain may be routed to return to a sump or vessel, sometimes with the aid of a return recirculating pump. In some cases, the collection area and drain may be part of a larger removable container which may house all of the removable reservoirs. In one such case, all of the reservoirs may be removed as a single unit.
  • The reservoirs may include a grain reservoir, which may include hold grains while the grains are steeped in the brewing liquid as it recirculates. The liquid may begin as water that is heated to an initial mash temperature, then recirculated through the grain reservoir. As the grains steep in the recirculating liquid, the sugars may be extracted. During mashing, the temperature may be held, raised, or lowered according to a predefined mash schedule.
  • The liquid level in the grain reservoir or any of the other reservoirs may be controlled using a number of different designs. In one design, a sensor may be able to detect the amount of liquid in the reservoir, and an inlet pump may be controlled to increase, decrease, start, or stop pumping to maintain such a level. In another design, a sensor may be used as an input to a pump attached to the output of the reservoir, and the output pump may be controlled to increase, decrease, start, or stop pumping to maintain such a level. In both such designs, a sensor may be used as part of a feedback loop to control the liquid level in a given reservoir.
  • In yet another design, a reservoir may have an outlet that may be mechanically sized and positioned such that an input pump may deliver a continuous flow of liquid which may fill the reservoir and the reservoir may maintain a liquid level above the grain.
  • In one version of such a system, the grain reservoir may have an overflow path, where the liquid level may be maintained over a grain bed. In such a version, the grain reservoir may have a set of drain holes that may be sized to flow less liquid than a recirculating pump may deliver to the reservoir. In such a system, a recirculating pump may maintain the reservoir in an overflow condition such that the grain may remain covered with liquid while the excess overflows and may be recirculated. A similar overflow design may be used for the hops or adjunct reservoirs.
  • The grain reservoir may be sized to hold all of the liquid that may be in the system at any time without overflowing. Such a system may be sized to prevent leaking or overflow if a return pump fails, a blockage occurs in a return line, or some other failure occurs.
  • A bypass flow path may allow liquid to be recirculated from a sump or vessel, through a heating or cooling element, and be returned to the vessel. A bypass flow path may be used to heat or cool the liquid without passing the liquid through one of the various reservoirs. In many situations, a bypass flow path may be used to change the temperature of the liquid prior to some step in the brewing process. For example, a heating cycle may be used to heat the liquid prior to beginning a mashing cycle, or prior to a boiling cycle.
  • The system may have a heating mechanism. The heating mechanism may add heat to the liquid while the liquid recirculates. A “direct heat” type of heating mechanism may be one in which a heating element is attached to a pipe through which the liquid recirculates or where the heating element is inserted into a pipe through which the liquid recirculates. The term “direct heat” is used to differentiate from an “indirect heat” mechanism, which is one in which a heating element heats a liquid heat exchange medium, and the heated liquid heat exchange medium may apply heat to the brewing liquid through a heat exchanger. In general terms, a “direct heat” type of heating mechanism may be one in which the liquid may be scorched by possibly overheating the liquid, whereas an indirect heating system may not have the possibility of scorching the liquid.
  • During a boil phase of wort manufacture, the flow may be passed through one or more adjunct or hops reservoirs. Several hops reservoirs may be used to introduce hops or other adjuncts into the boil phase at predetermined times.
  • The construction of adjunct or hops reservoirs may have a cascading mechanism whereby liquid may be permitted to flow from one adjunct reservoir to another adjunct reservoir. Such a construction may allow adjuncts to be introduced to the recirculating flow in sequence, with the first addition being kept in the recirculating flow as a second one is added, and so forth.
  • A vessel may serve as a sump during some or all of the phases of wort manufacture. The vessel may contain an initial charge of water, which may be recirculated through the various reservoirs, heating mechanisms, cooling mechanisms, or other components during the wort manufacturing. In such a system, the same vessel may be used for holding liquid during mashing, boiling, cooling, and even fermenting stages of brewing. In some cases, the same vessel may also be used for conditioning and dispensing beer after fermentation.
  • The vessel may be removable from a brewing system. Such a configuration may allow the vessel to be used for fermentation while a second vessel may be attached to the brewing system and another batch of beer started.
  • Some systems may have a cooling system. A cooling system may be used to lower the temperature of the liquid during various stages of the wort manufacture, such as the final cooling prior to beginning fermentation. In some cases, the cooling system may be employed to actively drop temperature during a mash step.
  • Some systems may have an active cooling system, where a heat exchanger may have liquid pass through one side while chilled liquid pass through a second side of the heat exchanger. Some such systems may use tap water as the chilled liquid, while other systems may have another type of chilled liquid generator. In some cases, the wort or liquid may pass through a heat exchanger that may be immersed in ice water or some other lower temperature medium.
  • Some systems may have a passive cooling system that does not contain a mechanism for removing heat. An example of a passive cooling system may recirculate liquid through a bypass flow path. The recirculation may cause the liquid or wort to cool faster than if the recirculation were not performed.
  • Throughout this specification, like reference numbers signify the same elements throughout the description of the figures.
  • When elements are referred to as being “connected” or “coupled,” the elements can be directly connected or coupled together or one or more intervening elements may also be present. In contrast, when elements are referred to as being “directly connected” or “directly coupled,” there are no intervening elements present.
  • FIG. 1 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment 100 showing an automated brewing system. Embodiment 100 is merely one example of a system that recirculates liquid through multiple selectable reservoirs and a heating mechanism to manufacture wort. A programmable controller may automate the heating system and flow path selection and may be able to automatically manufacture wort with little to no user interaction.
  • A brewing device 102 may have a set of removable steeping reservoirs 104 that may be inserted into an opening 106 in the device 102. The removable steeping reservoirs 104 may contain grains for mashing, as well as hops or other adjunct for use during a boiling phase.
  • The removable reservoirs 104 may be loaded with ingredients, then inserted into the brewing device 102. A vessel 114 may be pre-loaded with water at the beginning of the process, and the water may be recirculated through a heating mechanism in the brewing device 102, as well as through the various reservoirs.
  • The removable steeping reservoirs 104 may contain a grain reservoir 108, as well as multiple adjunct reservoirs 110. The grain reservoir 108 may be loaded with various cracked or ground grains such as malted barley, rice, corn, or other grains. The hops or adjunct reservoirs 110 may be loaded with hops or other adjuncts such as honey, flavored extracts, or other ingredients.
  • The vessel 114 may be connected to the brewing device 102 with an input 116 and output 118. A recirculating flow path may pull liquid from the vessel 114, pass the liquid through a heating mechanism, through one of the reservoirs or a bypass flow path, then return the liquid to the vessel 114.
  • A controller interface 112 may be a user interface containing input and output mechanisms for a user to interact with the brewing device 102. Examples of the input mechanisms may include buttons, switches, touchscreens, pointing devices, or other input mechanisms. An output mechanism may include lights, buzzers, display screens, or other output mechanisms.
  • In some embodiments, the brewing device 102 may be controlled by a remote device, such as a cellular telephone, tablet computer, desktop computer, or other device. In such an embodiment, the user may interact with the remote device to cause the brewing device 102 to perform various actions.
  • The brewing device 102 may have a network connection that may enable the brewing device 102 to be programmed from various sources. For example, a server may operate a website and a user may be able to select a recipe for execution by the brewing device 102. The recipe may be downloaded to the brewing device 102, and then a user may cause the brewing to begin by interacting with the controller interface 112.
  • FIG. 2 illustrates an embodiment 200 showing a functional diagram of the brewing device 102 from embodiment 100. Embodiment 200 is merely one example of an automated brewing system, and other embodiments may have additional or fewer components, or may have the components arranged in a different manner.
  • The diagram of FIG. 2 illustrates functional components of a system. In some cases, the component may be a hardware component, a software component, or a combination of hardware and software. In some cases, the connection of one component to another may be a close connection where two or more components are operating on a single hardware platform. In other cases, the connections may be made over network connections spanning long distances. Each embodiment may use different hardware, software, and interconnection architectures to achieve the functions described.
  • Embodiment 200 may illustrate the brewing device 102, removable steeping reservoirs 104, and vessel 114 as shown in embodiment 100.
  • The recirculating flow of liquid may be pulled from the vessel 114 through an inlet pump 202 and through a heating mechanism 204 and an optional chilling mechanism 205. The liquid may flow through a reservoir selection mechanism 208 and through one or more flow paths, which may consist of a bypass circulation path 210, a grain steeping reservoir 212, and one or more hops or adjunct reservoirs 214. The output of the various flow paths may pass through a collection area 216 and a check valve 218 before leaving the removable steeping reservoirs 104. An outlet pump 220 may draw liquid from the reservoirs 104 and back to the vessel 114.
  • A programmable controller 222 may control the inlet pump 202, outlet pump 220, as well as the heating mechanism 204, chilling mechanism 205, and the reservoir selection mechanism 208. The programmable controller 222 may have a display 224, input devices 226, and a network interface 228.
  • The reservoir selection mechanism 208 may direct the recirculating flow through one or more of the various reservoirs or the bypass flow path. The reservoir selection mechanism 208 may be implemented as a moving tube that may be positioned over one of the flow paths to select the flow path. The recirculating liquid may be dispensed into the flow path.
  • The reservoir selection mechanism 208 may be implemented in many different manners. In one design, a moving arm may be positioned over a selected reservoir using a stepper or servo motor. A sensor or sensors may be used to detect when the moving arm may be in one or more known positions, and a feedback loop may be used to control the position of the moving arm.
  • In another design, the flow output may be positioned over a selected reservoir using an X-Y stage. In one such design, an output tube may be positioned over a selected flow path using independently controlled X and Y actuators. Such a design may be useful to dispense liquid over a large reservoir by moving back and forth during recirculation, thereby spreading the recirculating liquid more evenly across a reservoir than when a dispensing tube is positioned in a single location. Other designs may also include a mechanism to move a dispensing tube over a reservoir during recirculation.
  • In still another design, the flow may pass through a manifold that may have outlets over each of the various reservoirs and individually controlled valves for each reservoir. In such a design, a programmable controller may select one or more reservoirs for flow, and select the corresponding valves to be open and other valves to be closed. Such a design may allow multiple flow paths to be open at any given time.
  • The output of the various reservoirs or bypass recirculation path may collect in a collection area 216. The collection area 216 may be a portion of the removable steeping reservoirs 104 where the outflow of the reservoirs may gather. A check valve 218 may be located at an exit to the reservoirs 104 so that any liquid in the reservoirs 104 may not spill when the reservoirs 104 are removed from the brewing device 102.
  • A safety mechanism may detect when the reservoirs 104 are removed or dislodged from the device 102. The detection may be made with a sensor, switch, or other mechanism by which the programmable controller 222 may detect that the reservoirs 104 are not positioned properly. When a detection is made that the reservoirs 104 are not positioned properly, the programmable controller 222 may shut down the inlet pump 202 to prevent further liquid from being dispensed from the reservoir selection mechanism 208 and, due to the incorrectly positioned reservoirs 104, may spill from the device 102.
  • The check valve 218 may be constructed to close when the reservoirs 104 are removed from the device 102 and may be open when the reservoirs 104 are fully seated in the device 102. In one such design, a check valve may be spring loaded to open when the reservoirs 104 are fully seated but remain closed when not fully seated.
  • The inlet pump 202 and outlet pump 220 may be controlled in different manners. In one manner, both the inlet pump 202 and outlet pump 220 may be controlled to be either on or off In another manner, one or both of the pumps may be variable controlled, such that the programmable controller 222 may be able to increase or decrease the flow.
  • The outlet pump 220 may be configured to flow more liquid than the inlet pump 204. Such a design may be useful to prevent liquid from collecting in the reservoirs 104. In one version of such a design, the inlet pump 202 may be run less frequently than the outlet pump 220, thereby minimizing the opportunity for excess liquid to collect in the reservoirs 104.
  • Embodiment 200 illustrates a system with two pumps, one on the inlet size and one on the outlet side. In some embodiments, one of the pumps may not be present and gravity may be used. For example, the vessel 114 may be placed above the brewing device 102 and the inlet flow path may be gravity fed. In another example, the vessel 114 may be placed below the brewing device 102 and the outlet flow path may be gravity fed.
  • Embodiment 200 illustrates a system where the heating mechanism 204 and chilling mechanism 205 are located upstream from the reservoirs. Other embodiments may have one or both of the heating mechanism 204 and chilling mechanism 205 after the reservoirs 104 and prior to returning flow to the vessel 114.
  • The chilling mechanism 205 is illustrated as a separate device from the heating mechanism 204. Some embodiments may have a single mechanism that may be capable of actively heating and chilling the recirculating liquid.
  • FIG. 3A is an example embodiment 300 showing a “direct” heating mechanism. FIG. 3A is not to scale.
  • Embodiment 300 may illustrate a tube 302 and a heating element 304. The liquid flow path 306 may cause liquid to flow through the tube 302, and the heating element 304 may apply “direct” heat to the tube 302. The heating element 304 may be an electrical element, gas flame, or other heat source.
  • FIG. 3B is an example embodiment 308 showing an “indirect” heating mechanism. FIG. 3B is not to scale.
  • Embodiment 308 may illustrate a heating element 310 and a heat exchanger 312. A pump 314 may cause a heat transfer liquid to flow along a recirculation path 316. A liquid flow path 318 may pass through the heat exchanger 312 and through an exit 320.
  • The term “indirect” heating mechanism is used to describe a heating mechanism where heat may be transferred to a recirculating liquid through a heat exchanges and a heat transfer liquid, as opposed to a “direct” heating mechanism where the heat may be applied without the intermediate heat transfer liquid.
  • FIG. 4 is an example embodiment 400 showing a grain steeping reservoir. FIG. 4 is not to scale.
  • Embodiment 400 illustrates one example design of a grain steeping reservoir where an overflow may be used to pass recirculated liquid through a grain bed 404.
  • The reservoir tub 402 may be a large container which may contain smaller containers. The smaller containers may be individually or collectively removable, or may be molded as one unit. In some cases, two or more containers may be joined together into a single unit, which may be removable from the reservoir tub 402.
  • A grain container 428 may have a grain bed 404 that may be supported by a mesh support 406. The mesh support 406 may retain the grain particles from leaving the container and possibly clogging downstream piping or equipment. Liquid in the grain bed 404 may pass through drain holes 408 into a collection area 410.
  • A reservoir selection mechanism may have an output 414 that may position an output at a grain steeping position 412. The flow 414 may drop recirculated liquid into the grain container 428.
  • The flow 414 may be higher than the amount of liquid that may pass through the drain holes 408, causing a liquid level 416 to exceed a wall 418 and causing an overflow 420. The overflow 420 may bypass the grain bed 404, and the grain bed 404 may remain wetted.
  • In some cases, the inlet pump may be controlled to fill the grain container 428 and maintain the liquid level 416 above the grain bed. Such a system may use a sensor to determine the liquid level 416, and may increase or decrease the flow 414 to maintain a minimum liquid level 416. Some such systems may or may not use an overflow system.
  • The overflow 420 may pass into an area that may be used for a bypass flow path. In a bypass flow path, the output of the reservoir selection mechanism 414 may be positioned over the overflow area such that the liquid may recirculate without passing through any of the various reservoirs.
  • The output of the drain holes 408 and the overflow 420 may collect in the bottom of the grain reservoir 402, creating a liquid level 422. The outlet 424 may draw the liquid out of the grain reservoir 402 and through a check valve 426.
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment 500 showing an example cross-section of a set of adjunct steeping reservoirs. FIG. 5 is not to scale.
  • FIG. 500 is merely one example of a cascading flow reservoir where multiple hops or adjuncts may be added to a flow path in a sequence.
  • The reservoir tub 502 may have reservoirs for adjuncts 504, 506, 508, and 510. Each of the reservoirs may have openings 540, 542, 544, and 546, respectively.
  • The reservoir tub 502 may be a larger container into which removable containers may be placed. The larger container of the reservoir tub 502 may be removable from a brewing device as a single unit, such that a user may load the reservoir tub 502 with the various ingredients into a brewing device. The reservoir tub 502 may contain multiple ingredient reservoirs, some of which may be removable from the reservoir tub 502 individually or joined to other ingredient reservoirs.
  • In the example of embodiment 500, the reservoir tub 502 may be one piece, which the adjunct reservoirs 552 may be a second, separate piece, which may be removable from the reservoir tub 502. In such an embodiment, the reservoir tub 502 may form a collection area 514 which may collect liquid as the liquid passes through one or more of the various reservoirs that may be in the reservoir tub 502.
  • A reservoir selection mechanism may be configured to move an outlet 518 into multiple positions over the reservoir 502. The positions may include a bypass position 520, a first adjunct position 522, a second adjunct position 524, a third adjunct position 526, and a forth adjunct position 528.
  • In the bypass position 520, liquid may flow through a bypass flow path 512 and through a check valve 550 to an outlet 548.
  • In the first adjunct position 522, flow may drop into the adjunct 510 and through an opening 546. When inlet flow exceeds the flow through the opening 546, an overflow may occur across the wall 536.
  • In the second adjunct position 524, flow may drop into the adjunct 508 and through an opening 544. The incoming flow may exceed the flow through the opening 544, causing an overflow across wall 534 and into the adjunct 510.
  • In the third adjunct position 526, flow may drop into the adjunct 506 and through an opening 542. The incoming flow may exceed the flow through the opening 544, causing an overflow across wall 532 and into the adjunct 508. When the incoming flow exceeds the flow through openings 542 and 544, the flow may overflow wall 534 and into the adjunct 510.
  • In the fourth adjunct position 528, flow may drop into the adjunct 504 and through an opening 540. The incoming flow may exceed the flow through the opening 540, causing an overflow across wall 530 and into the adjunct 506. When the incoming flow exceeds the flow through openings 540 and 542, the flow may overflow wall 532 and into the adjunct 508. When the incoming flow exceeds the flow through openings 540, 542, and 544, the flow may overflow wall 534 and into the adjunct 510.
  • The series of adjunct reservoirs and overflow walls may enable a process where adjuncts may be added to a cycle in sequence. For example, a first adjunct may be added into a boil sequence at the beginning. At a second point in the boil sequence, the outlet 518 may be moved to the second adjunct position 524. During this period, the second adjunct 508 may begin to be introduced to the liquid, yet the first adjunct 510 may continue to be steeped by the overflowing liquid.
  • Such a sequence may replicate a traditional boiling schedule where hops or other adjuncts may be added in sequence to a boil vessel. As the sequence continues, two additional charges of adjuncts may be added at later times.
  • Embodiment 500 illustrates an embodiment where four charges of adjuncts may be added to a recirculating system in sequence. Other systems may have more or fewer number of adjunct reservoirs that may be similarly configured.
  • FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment 600 showing a method performed by a user for operating an automated brewing device. Embodiment 600 may illustrate one method that may be performed with the device 102 of embodiment 100.
  • Other embodiments may use different sequencing, additional or fewer steps, and different nomenclature or terminology to accomplish similar functions. In some embodiments, various operations or set of operations may be performed in parallel with other operations, either in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. The steps selected here were chosen to illustrate some principles of operations in a simplified form.
  • Embodiment 600 may illustrate the basic steps that a user may perform when using an automated brewing system similar to that described in embodiments 100 or 200. The user may start by configuring the device with a recipe, load the brewing device, and start the device. The result of the device's operation may be wort that may be ready for fermentation, and after fermentation, the beer may be prepared for enjoyment.
  • A user may select a recipe and download the recipe to a controller on the brewing device in block 602. In some cases, the recipe may be downloaded from a server to the device over a network connection. In other cases, the user may manually program the device to perform a specific recipe.
  • The recipe may define the brewing sequence, which may include a mashing schedule and boiling schedule. The mashing schedule may define a time and temperature profile that may cause sugars to be extracted from grains that are being steeped. The boiling schedule may define a sequence of hops or other adjuncts and boiling times for which the adjuncts may be steeped.
  • The dry ingredients may be measured in block 604. The dry ingredients may include grains, such as malted barley, rice, corn, oats, or other grains and cereals that may be processed during a mashing phase, as well as different charges of hops or other adjuncts that may be added during a boil phase.
  • The ingredients may be added to various reservoirs in block 606 and inserted into the device in block 608.
  • Water may be measured and added to a vessel in block 610, and the vessel may be connected to the device in block 612.
  • The brewing device may be started in block 614, and the device may execute a brewing sequence in block 616. When the brewing sequence is complete, the user may receive a signal in block 618.
  • The user may detach the vessel in block 620, pitch yeast for fermentation in block 622, and configure the vessel for fermentation in block 624. The configuration may include adding an airlock to the vessel. The fermentation may occur in block 626.
  • Once fermentation is complete, the beer may be racked from one vessel to another in block 628. Racking may be performed to remove the beer from the yeast in many cases. The beer may be prepared for serving in block 630, which may involve bottling the beer or pressurizing a serving vessel with carbon dioxide or other gas for carbonation. Lastly, the beer may be enjoyed in block 632.
  • FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment 700 showing a high level method performed by a brewing device. The overall sequence may be presented in embodiment 700, and subsequent figures may describe these sequences in more detail.
  • The sequence of operations of a brewing device may follow a traditional wort manufacturing process. A start signal may be received in bloc 702. A grain steeping cycle or mashing cycle may be performed in block 704, followed by a boiling cycle in block 706, a cooling cycle in block 708, and the device may alert the user to the completion in block 710.
  • FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment 800 showing a safety loop that may be performed by a brewing device throughout the operational stages of brewing. Embodiment 800 may be a simplified version of a loop that may check safety settings and, if an error is detected, may halt operations.
  • Operations may begin in block 802.
  • All of the safety settings may be checked in block 804. If the safety settings are OK in block 806, the operations of the brewing system may continue in block 816.
  • The safety settings may vary from one embodiment to another. In general, the safety settings may be selected to reduce the risk of damage to users, the equipment, or to the wort being produced. Some systems may have inherent designs that may minimize scalding injuries, damage to the equipment, or other problems. In many cases, safety settings may be determined by sensors, switches, or other inputs.
  • When safety settings are not OK in block 806, all pumps may be stopped in block 808 and heating mechanisms may be powered off in block 810. Such operations may prevent scalding if hot liquids are present, or may prevent damage to the equipment.
  • A fault may be determined in block 812 and the fault may be displayed on an interface in block 814 to alert a user. The fault detection and display may be a fault that may be rectified by the user, such as repositioning a removable reservoir. In some cases, the fault may be a fault that may cause a brewing batch to be discarded, such as a fault in a heating mechanism.
  • The safety loop of embodiment 800 may be performed while the brewing device is in operation, including while the mashing cycle and boiling cycle are being performed.
  • FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment 900 showing a grain steeping cycle or mashing cycle. The mashing cycle may cause sugars to be extracted from a grain bed.
  • The mashing cycle may be defined by a time and temperature profile. A single-step infusion mash profile may have a first temperature set point which may be held for a period of time. In a typical sequence, the temperature may be in the range of 165 deg F. and hold for 90 minutes. A more complex mashing sequence may start at one temperature, hold for a predetermined amount of time, move to a second temperature, hold for a second amount of time, and continue for several additional temperatures and time.
  • The mashing profile may be defined differently for different types of beers. Each mashing profile may cause different types of sugars to be extracted from the grains, and those sugars may affect the flavor profile of the finished beer.
  • The mashing profile may be part of the recipe that may be downloaded to a programmable controller in a brewing device. The programmable controller may turn on and off a heating mechanism to raise, lower, or maintain a temperature of the liquid, as well as control the various pumps and select bypass flow paths or one of the various reservoir flow paths during operations.
  • The grain steeping cycle may begin in block 902.
  • The bypass flow path may be selected in block 904. Recirculating pumps may be started in block 906 and a first temperature start point may be selected in block 908.
  • As the recirculating and heating may continue, if the temperature is not at a set point in block 910, heat may be added in block 912. Once the temperature reaches the set point in block 910, the grain steeping flow path may be selected in block 914. At this point, the mashing may begin as the grains become wetted.
  • A time and temperature may be determined from the mashing profile in block 914.
  • If the temperature is below the set point in block 918, heat is added in block 920. If the time has not expired in block 922, the process may return to block 918.
  • When the time has expired for the step in the mashing profile and another step remains in the profile in block 924, the process may return to block 916 to select the next time and temperature setting from the profile.
  • When all of the steps have been completed in block 924, the input pump may be turned off in block 926 and the outlet pump may continue to run in block 928 until the grain reservoir empties.
  • FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment 1000 showing a boiling cycle. The boiling cycle may be performed at or near the boiling temperature and may further change the extracted sugars into fermentable sugars. During the boil cycle, hops and other adjuncts may be added in sequence.
  • The boiling cycle may be defined by a boiling profile, which may include definitions for an adjunct flow path, as well as time and temperature settings for each step in the boiling cycle.
  • The boiling cycle may begin in block 1002.
  • The bypass flow path may be selected in block 1004. The recirculating pumps may be turned on in block 1006 and a temperature set point may be determined in block 1008. In a typical boiling cycle, the first set point may be close to boiling, and may vary depending on altitude or atmospheric pressure. As the liquid recirculates, if the temperature is not at the set point in block 1010, heat may be added in block 1012.
  • Once the temperature reaches the set point in block 1010, the adjunct flow path, time, and temperature may be selected from the profile in block 1014.
  • The adjunct flow path may be set in block 1016. While liquid recirculates through the set adjunct flow path, if the temperature is lower than the set point in block 1018, heat may be added in block 1020. If time has not expired for the profile step, the process may return to block 1018.
  • Once time has expired on the boiling step and another step exists in the profile in block 1024, the process may return to block 1014 to determine and execute the next step in the profile.
  • If all the steps have been completed in block 1024, the input pump may be turned off in block 1026. The outlet pump may continue to run in block 1028 until the reservoirs empty. The boiling cycle may end in block 1030.
  • FIG. 11 is a flowchart illustration of an embodiment 1100 showing a chilling cycle. In embodiment 1100, the chilling cycle may use an external chiller that may be manually attached to the system.
  • Other systems may have internal chillers that may not have a user install the chiller.
  • The cooling cycle may begin in block 1102.
  • A user may be alerted in block 1104 to install a heat exchanger or other chilling mechanism. The user may send an input in block 1106 to the controller to continue once the chilling mechanism may be installed.
  • The bypass flow path may be set in block 1108. The recirculating pumps may be turned on in block 1110. A temperature set point may be selected in block 1112.
  • The recirculation may continue through the cooling mechanism. If the temperature is above the set point in block 1114, the recirculation may continue in block 1114.
  • Once the set point has been reached in block 1114, the input pump may be turned off in block 1116. The outlet pump may be run in block 1118 until the collection area empties. The chilling cycle ends in block 1120.
  • FIG. 12 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment 1200 showing an automated brewing system. Embodiment 1200 is merely one example of a system that recirculates liquid through multiple selectable reservoirs and a heating mechanism to manufacture wort. The ingredients for brewing may be added using removable containers, which may hold prepackaged kits of ingredients. A programmable controller may automate the heating system and flow path selection and may be able to automatically manufacture wort with little to no user interaction.
  • A brewing device 1202 may have a reservoir tub 1204 that may be inserted into an opening 1206 in the device 1202. The reservoir tub 1204 may contain grains for mashing, as well as hops or other adjunct for use during a boiling phase.
  • The reservoir tub 1204 may be loaded with ingredients, then inserted into the brewing device 1202. A vessel 1214 may be pre-loaded with water at the beginning of the process, and the water may be recirculated through a heating mechanism in the brewing device 1202, as well as through the various reservoirs.
  • The reservoir tub 1204 may contain a grain tub 1208, as well as an adjunct tub 1210. The grain tub 1208 may be loaded with various cracked or ground grains such as malted barley, rice, corn, or other grains, which may be contained in a grain container 1220. The adjunct tub 1210 may be loaded with hops or other adjuncts such as honey, flavored extracts, or other ingredients, which may be contained in an adjunct steeping container 1222.
  • The vessel 1214 may be connected to the brewing device 1202 with an input 1216 and output 1218. A recirculating flow path may pull liquid from the vessel 1214, pass the liquid through a heating mechanism, through one of the reservoirs or a bypass flow path, then return the liquid to the vessel 1214.
  • A controller interface 1212 may be a user interface containing input and output mechanisms for a user to interact with the brewing device 1202. Examples of the input mechanisms may include buttons, switches, touchscreens, pointing devices, or other input mechanisms. An output mechanism may include lights, buzzers, display screens, or other output mechanisms.
  • In some embodiments, the brewing device 1202 may be controlled by a remote device, such as a cellular telephone, tablet computer, desktop computer, or other device. In such an embodiment, the user may interact with the remote device to cause the brewing device 1202 to perform various actions.
  • The brewing device 1202 may have a network connection that may enable the brewing device 1202 to be programmed from various sources. For example, a server may operate a website and a user may be able to select a recipe for execution by the brewing device 1202. The recipe may be downloaded to the brewing device 1202, and then a user may cause the brewing to begin by interacting with the controller interface 1212.
  • FIG. 13 is an example embodiment 1300 showing a grain steeping reservoir. FIG. 13 is not to scale.
  • Embodiment 1300 illustrates one example design of system with a removable gain container 1328, which may be a pre-packaged container with grains and other ingredients that may be used during mashing. The grain bed 1304 may reside inside the removable grain container 1328, which may be simply removed and discarded after the brewing cycle. The removable grain container 1328 may be compostable, such that the grains and its container may be added to a composting bin.
  • The reservoir tub 1302 may be a large container which may contain smaller containers, such as the grain container 1328. The smaller containers may be individually or collectively removable, or may be molded as one unit. In some cases, two or more containers may be joined together into a single unit, which may be removable from the reservoir tub 1302.
  • A grain container 1328 may have a grain bed 1304 that may be kept inside the grain container 1328 by a filter material 1330. The filter material 1330 may be a nonwoven material, such as filter paper, or may be a woven material, such as a linen or other woven mesh. In many cases, the filter material 1330 may be compostable. The filter material 1330 may retain the grain particles from leaving the container and possibly clogging downstream piping or equipment. Liquid in the grain bed 1304 may pass through the drain hole 1308 into a collection area 1310.
  • A reservoir selection mechanism may have an output 1314 that may position an output at a grain steeping position 1312. The flow 1315 may drop recirculated liquid into the grain container 1328.
  • The flow 1315 may be higher than the amount of liquid that may pass through the drain holes 1308, causing a liquid level 1316 to remain inside the container 1328, thereby causing the enzyme reactions to occur during mashing.
  • In some cases, the inlet pump may be controlled to fill the grain container 1328 and maintain the liquid level 1316 above the grain bed. Such a system may use a sensor to determine the liquid level 1316, and may increase or decrease the flow 1315 to maintain a minimum liquid level 1316. Some such systems may or may not use an overflow system.
  • The output of the drain hole 1308 may collect in the bottom of the grain reservoir 1302, creating a liquid level 1322. The outlet 1324 may draw the liquid out of the reservoir tub 1302 and through a check valve 1326.
  • The grain container 1328 may have a base 1330 which may be held off the bottom of the reservoir tub 1302 by a set of standoffs 1332. The standoffs 1332 may allow liquid to drain from the grain container 1328 and be collected by the outlet 1324. In some cases, standoffs or similar features may be incorporated into the grain container 1328.
  • The grain container 1328 may be a molded container where the base 1330 may be integrally molded with a set of walls 1334. One such design may be thermoformed plastic. In such a design, the various filters may be attached during the molding process, or may be applied in a second manufacturing step, such as by gluing, melting, molding, sewing, stapling, or other attachment mechanism.
  • Molded pulp containers may be another design for the grain container 1328, and may be manufactured from several different types of pulp. Rough industrial pulp may be used in some cases, where a single sided tool may be used to create a container. Fine-pressed pulp may also be used in other case, where a two sided tool may compress the pulp and yield a higher density and smoother container than rough industrial pulp.
  • The pulp may be any type of pulp, such as newsprint or other post-consumer or post-industrial waste. Other types of pulp may include wheat or corn straw, sugarcane bagasse, or other fibers.
  • In some cases, a pulp container may be treated with binders, coatings, or other materials. Such materials may allow the container to retain its shape during the beer making process and still have sufficient strength to hold the wet ingredients after the beer making process has ended. In some cases, such materials may not be used yet the container may still hold the wet ingredients after processing without breaking apart.
  • The various filters may be attached to a molded pulp container by any attachment mechanism. In some cases, filters may be molded into the pulp container, or gluing, molding, sewing, stapling, or other attachment mechanism may be used.
  • The grain container 1328 may have a lid 1336, which may contain the grain bed 1304. The lid 1336 may be joined to the grain container 1328 at a lip 1342. The lid 1336 may be joined to the grain container 1328 by many different mechanisms, including mechanically interlocking, gluing, sewing, stapling, or any other joining mechanism.
  • The lid 1336 may have an inlet hole 1344 over which a filter 1340 may be placed. Such a design may keep the ingredients sealed inside the grain container 1328 after packaging. The inlet hold 1344 and filter 1340 may be sized to be larger than the drain hole 1308 such that the liquid level 1316 may be maintained during the mashing operation.
  • FIG. 14 is a diagram illustration of an embodiment 1400 showing an example cross-section of a set of adjunct steeping reservoirs with a removable adjunct container 1452. FIG. 14 is not to scale.
  • FIG. 1400 is merely one example of a cascading flow reservoir where multiple hops or adjuncts may be added to a flow path in a sequence.
  • The reservoir tub 1402 may hold an adjunct container 1452, which may have compartments for adjuncts 1404, 1406, 1408, and 1410. Each of the compartments may have openings 1440, 1442, 1444, and 1446, respectively. Each opening may be covered by filters 1452, 1454, 1456, and 1458, respectively.
  • The reservoir tub 1402 may be a larger container into which removable containers may be placed, such as the adjunct container 1452. The larger container of the reservoir tub 1402 may be removable from a brewing device as a single unit, such that a user may load the reservoir tub 1402 with the adjunct container 1452, then place the reservoir tub 1402 into a brewing device. The reservoir tub 1402 may contain multiple ingredient reservoirs, some of which may be removable from the reservoir tub 1402 individually or joined to other ingredient reservoirs.
  • In the example of embodiment 1400, the reservoir tub 1402 may be one piece, which the adjunct container 1452 may be a second, separate piece, which may be removable from the reservoir tub 1402. In such an embodiment, the reservoir tub 1402 may form a collection area 1414 which may collect liquid as the liquid passes through one or more of the various reservoirs that may be in the reservoir tub 1402.
  • A reservoir selection mechanism may be configured to move an outlet 1418 into multiple positions over the reservoir 1402. The positions may include a bypass position 1420, a first adjunct position 1422, a second adjunct position 1424, a third adjunct position 1426, and a forth adjunct position 1428.
  • In the bypass position 1420, liquid may flow through a bypass flow path 1412 and through a check valve 1450 to an outlet 1448.
  • In the first adjunct position 1422, flow may drop into the adjunct 1410 and through an opening 1446. When inlet flow exceeds the flow through the opening 1446, an overflow may occur through the opening 1436.
  • In the second adjunct position 1424, flow may drop into the adjunct 1408 and through an opening 1444. The incoming flow may exceed the flow through the opening 1444, causing an overflow across wall 1434 and into the adjunct 1410.
  • In the third adjunct position 1426, flow may drop into the adjunct 1406 and through an opening 1442. The incoming flow may exceed the flow through the opening 1444, causing an overflow across wall 1432 and into the adjunct 1408. When the incoming flow exceeds the flow through openings 1442 and 1444, the flow may overflow wall 1434 and into the adjunct 1410.
  • In the fourth adjunct position 1428, flow may drop into the adjunct 1404 and through an opening 1440. The incoming flow may exceed the flow through the opening 1440, causing an overflow across wall 1430 and into the adjunct 1406. When the incoming flow exceeds the flow through openings 1440 and 1442, the flow may overflow wall 1432 and into the adjunct 1408. When the incoming flow exceeds the flow through openings 1440, 1442, and 1444, the flow may overflow wall 1434 and into the adjunct 1410.
  • The series of adjunct reservoirs and overflow walls may enable a process where adjuncts may be added to a cycle in sequence. For example, a first adjunct may be added into a boil sequence at the beginning. At a second point in the boil sequence, the outlet 1418 may be moved to the second adjunct position 1424. During this period, the second adjunct 1408 may begin to be introduced to the liquid, yet the first adjunct 1410 may continue to be steeped by the overflowing liquid.
  • Such a sequence may replicate a traditional boiling schedule where hops or other adjuncts may be added in sequence to a boil vessel. As the sequence continues, two additional charges of adjuncts may be added at later times.
  • Embodiment 1400 illustrates an embodiment where four charges of adjuncts may be added to a recirculating system in sequence. Other systems may have more or fewer number of adjunct reservoirs that may be similarly configured.
  • The adjunct container 1452 may have a base 1460 and a set of external walls 1462. The internal walls 1430, 1432, and 1434 may be integrally molded or attached secondarily to the adjunct container 1452.
  • The adjunct container 1452 may be molded of a thermoplastic, pulp, or other material. In many cases, the adjunct container 1452 may have a lid 1466, which may be joined to the walls 1462 at a lip 1464.
  • The lid 1466 may have holes 1468, 1470, 1472, and 1474, through which incoming liquid may be introduced into the adjunct container 1452. The holes 1468, 1470, 1472, and 1474 may or may not have filters attached to the hole. Filters may be useful when the adjuncts, such as whole leaf hops, compressed hops, pellet hops, or other adjuncts may be placed loosely into the various compartments. Filters on the lid may be omitted in some cases, such as when the adjuncts may be captured in sachets, filter paper, or other individual, secondary containers.
  • The foregoing description of the subject matter has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the subject matter to the precise form disclosed, and other modifications and variations may be possible in light of the above teachings. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the appended claims be construed to include other alternative embodiments except insofar as limited by the prior art.

Claims (20)

What is claimed is:
1. A container for mashing grains, said container comprising:
a base;
a set of walls connected to said base;
a first drain hole in said base;
a first drain filter mounted over said first drain hole;
a lid having a first inlet hole;
an first inlet filter mounted over said first inlet hole;
crushed grains contained within said container.
2. The container of claim 1, said set of walls having a top lip, said lid being attached to said top lip.
3. The container of claim 2, said first drain filter being attached to said base by a method comprising at least one of a group composed of:
gluing;
molding;
sewing;
mechanical interlocking; and
stapling.
4. The container of claim 1, said base and said set of walls being molded of a compostable material.
5. The container of claim 4, said base and said set of walls being molded in a single piece.
6. The container of claim 1, said first drain filter comprising a woven material.
7. The container of claim 6, said woven material being linen.
8. The container of claim 1, said first drain filter comprising a nonwoven material.
9. The container of claim 8, said nonwoven material being filter paper.
10. A container for brewing beer, said container comprising:
a base;
a set of walls connected to said base;
a first drain hole in said base;
a first drain filter mounted over said first drain hole;
a lid having a first inlet hole;
hops contained within said container.
11. The container of claim 10 further comprising:
a first compartment and a second compartment;
said first compartment having said first drain hole;
said second compartment having a first overflow wall connecting said second compartment to said first compartment.
12. The container of claim 11, said second compartment comprising a second drain hole.
13. The container of claim 11, said set of walls having a top lip, said lid being attached to said top lip.
14. A device for mashing grains, said device comprising:
a reservoir tub having a reservoir base and reservoir walls;
said reservoir tub comprising a reservoir outlet;
a liquid recirculating system comprising a recirculating pump;
a heat source within said liquid recirculating system configured to heat liquid in said liquid recirculating system;
a programmable controller having a processor, said programmable controller connected to said heat source, and said liquid recirculating pump;
said reservoir tub being configured to receive an adjunct steeping container, said adjunct steeping container comprising:
a base;
a set of walls connected to said base;
a first drain hole in said base;
a first drain filter mounted over said first drain hole;
a lid having a first inlet hole;
a first inlet filter mounted over said first inlet hole;
crushed grains contained within said container.
15. The device of claim 14, said reservoir tub further comprising standoffs configured to support said adjunct steeping container away from said reservoir base.
16. The device of claim 14, said adjunct steeping container comprising standoffs configured to support said adjunct steeping container away from said reservoir base.
17. The device of claim 14 further comprising:
a bypass recirculating path within said liquid recirculating system;
a reservoir selecting mechanism having a programmable changing mechanism to switch liquid flow between said bypass recirculating path and said adjunct steeping container, said reservoir selecting mechanism being controlled by said programmable controller.
18. A device for boiling wort, said device comprising:
a reservoir tub having a reservoir base and reservoir walls;
said reservoir tub comprising a reservoir outlet;
a liquid recirculating system comprising a recirculating pump;
a heat source within said liquid recirculating system configured to heat liquid in said liquid recirculating system;
a programmable controller having a processor, said programmable controller connected to said heat source, and said liquid recirculating pump;
said reservoir tub being configured to receive an adjunct steeping container, said adjunct steeping container comprising:
a base;
a set of walls connected to said base;
a first drain hole in said base;
a first drain filter mounted over said first drain hole;
a lid having a first inlet hole;
hops contained within said adjunct steeping container.
19. The device of claim 18, said adjunct steeping container further comprising:
a first compartment and a second compartment;
said first compartment having said first drain hole;
said second compartment having a first overflow wall connecting said second compartment to said first compartment.
20. The device of claim 19 further comprising:
a reservoir selecting mechanism having a programmable changing mechanism to switch liquid flow between said first compartment and said second compartment of said adjunct steeping container, said reservoir selecting mechanism being controlled by said programmable controller.
US15/416,226 2011-03-03 2017-01-26 Compostable Container for Beermaking Pending US20170130177A1 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US201161449023P true 2011-03-03 2011-03-03
US13/323,537 US9228163B1 (en) 2011-03-03 2011-12-12 Simple, efficient automated all-grain beer brewing system
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