The IoT of Beer: Brewing Industry Employs the Internet of Things to Make Beer Better

By Ken Briodagh, Editorial Director  |  June 01, 2016

The STX3 chipset from Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd. has been tapped to power the world’s first IoT craft beer monitoring solution.

U.S.-based beer distributor B. United International is deploying Ovinto's satellite-enabled sensor technology to monitor the location, temperature, and pressure of hundreds of beer, cider, and mead brands as they are shipped in tank containers from breweries around the world. Using Globalstar’s (News - Alert) satellite communications, B. United can get real-time details about the status of beer in each container, even when it is in transit across the ocean.

Bringing new levels of transparency to the beer distribution industry, B. United will publish live satellite data about each tank container of beer. By sharing this information with both hospitality industry business customers and consumers, B. United underscores its commitment to freshness and quality in the world of artisanal brews.

“After a journey of 10 days from Europe, or four weeks from Japan, the taste of craft beers can change,” said Matthias Neidhart, founder of B. United. “On arrival in the U.S., we review the data from Ovinto and analyze samples in our lab to determine the best way for putting it in kegs.”

Unlike commercial beers, craft beers very often use complex yeast strains and are notoriously difficult to transport because natural re-fermentation can increase the CO2 level and turn the beer to foam. To date, distributors have had to rely on hope for shipping their brews in kegs and for the product to remain in perfect balance and condition. Another shortcut tactic was to bypass natural refermentation altogether through the use of forced carbonation, an industrial process that emphasizes efficiency, always at the expense of flavor and aroma. By finding an effective way of shipping beer in temperature-controlled tank containers, B. United can cut costs as well as ensure the highest flavor and aroma quality.

After learning about Ovinto and Globalstar from its logistics partner, Germany-based Hoyer, B. United started a trial in October 2015. It fitted Ovinto’s satellite-enabled sensors in a 14,000-litre tank full of beer to carefully monitor the temperature, pressure,  and location. The trial was a success, resulting in zero waste and giving B. United a better understanding of the shipment’s journey to optimize its supply chain. Ovinto Sat is now being installed in all of B. United’s tank containers, each with four temperature-controlled compartments. The deployment will be completed this spring.

Kris Herteleer, owner of Belgium-based De Dolle Brouwers, supplies beer to the U.S. market through B. United.

“By bringing technology innovation into the craft beer sector, B.United is introducing unprecedented levels of transparency on the condition of our beer as it travels to the U.S.,” Herteleer said. “This innovation demonstrates our shared commitment to delivering the best possible product to American beer drinkers.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle