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  • Writer's pictureSimon Grzebieta

How DevOps helped me be a better Beer Brewer

In my view, there are many similarities between beer brewing and software development. To comprehend this connection, let’s briefly examine the implementation of the DevOps methodology followed by the process of brewing beer.

What is DevOps and Beer Brewing?

DevOps is a cultural and practical approach to software development and delivery that emphasises collaboration and communication between software development and operations teams. It involves leveraging a range of practices, toolchains, and automation to expedite the delivery of software features to production, with the aim of accelerating the agile process. The goal of DevOps is to improve the speed, quality, and reliability of software delivery, while also promoting a culture of continuous improvement and feedback.

Typically, a cross-functional agile team utilises toolchains to establish continuous integration and deployment pipelines. The the DevOps automation workflow generally follows the below structure:

  1. Code Development: Developers write the code and check it into a version control system

  2. Continuous Integration The code is built and tested automatically, with feedback provided to the developer in case of errors or issues.

  3. Continuous Delivery: The code is deployed to a staging environment, where it undergoes further testing and validation.

  4. Continuous Deployment: The code is automatically deployed to production after successful testing and validation in the staging environment.

  5. Monitoring: The application is monitored continuously for any issues or errors, and alerts are sent if anything goes wrong.

  6. Feedback and Improvement: The application undergoes a continuous improvement process by collecting feedback from its users and stakeholders. This feedback loop helps to keep the application relevant and meet the changing requirements of its users over time.

How to brew beer?

Brewing beer can be an enjoyable endeavor, but it demands careful attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the brewing process. Achieving consistently excellent beer requires prioritizing repeatability, consistency, and gradual improvements. While the brewing process can be broken down into three stages, each stage may entail its unique technical obstacles.

  1. Mashing: The first step is mashing. During this process, you soak malted grains in warm water to extract the sugar, creating a liquid called wort. This is an essential step for producing a high-quality beer.

  2. Boiling: The second step is boiling the wort. During this step, you concentrate the sugar and add hops to create unique flavor profiles. Boiling the wort also sterilizes it, killing any harmful bacteria that could spoil your beer.

  3. Fermentation: The final step is fermentation. This is where you add yeast to the wort and let it sit. The yeast converts the sugar to alcohol, and the beer is born. This is a crucial step that requires precise temperature control and monitoring to ensure the yeast can do its job properly.

Mastering each step can be a challenge, but using DevOps principles can help simplify the process and make it easier to repeat. By implementing repeatable and automated processes, you can ensure that each batch of beer is consistent and meets your high standards.

The Collision of DevOps and Beer Brewing

Let’s explore how applying a DevOps methodology to brewing has helped me improve my brewing skills. There are several key elements shared between brewing beer and DevOps that have made a significant impact:

  1. Automation: Automating manual processes has enabled me to increase speed, accuracy, and repeatability in my brewing practices.

  2. Repeatability: Consistency is key in both brewing and DevOps. By automating processes, I can ensure that I get the same results every time I brew.

  3. Testing: Testing is crucial in both brewing and DevOps. In brewing, I test at every stage of the process to make sure everything is going according to plan.

  4. Feedback: Finding and addressing issues quickly is crucial in brewing. By getting feedback early, I can make adjustments and save the brew if needed.

  5. Incremental improvements: Small, incremental improvements are important in both brewing and DevOps. Making small changes allows me to identify and address issues quickly and easily roll back changes if necessary.

By applying these DevOps principles to my brewing process, I’ve been able to achieve more consistent and high-quality results, while also reducing errors and waste.

Applying DevOps to the Brewing Process

How can we apply these DevOps principles to beer brewing? Let’s explore how we can improve each step of the brewing process.

Creating Recipes

When you create recipes, it’s useful to treat them like a code base. That means:

  • Make sure they’re readable, so you can still understand them even months later.

  • Change things incrementally, with small updates rather than big ones. This is like coding: it’s less likely to cause problems, and it’s easier to undo changes if you need to.

  • Keep track of changes over time, so you can see how your recipe has evolved and go back to an earlier version if necessary.

  • Create a change log after each version, so you know what’s different compared to the previous version.

Brewing Equipment

Brewing equipment is similar to your DevOps toolchain, which you use to build and deploy software to production. To ensure success:

  • Choose reliable equipment that matches your brewing style and needs, just as you would choose reliable DevOps tools.

  • Aim for consistency: you want your equipment to perform consistently for each recipe, just like you want to repeat the CI/CD process for each deployment.

  • Automate as much as possible. This is important in both brewing and DevOps, as the less hands-on your process is, the less chance there is for human error.

  • Ensure that the automated process is easy to understand and adjust, so you can tweak it as needed.

Measuring and Testing

Measuring and testing are crucial at every stage of the brewing process, just like in build/deployment pipelines. The quicker you catch an issue, the easier it is to fix!

Here are the key types of testing:

  • Unit testing: this is like your brewing software. It calculates things like alcohol content, color, bitterness, and other factors you need to brew your beer correctly. Getting this right is essential to getting started on the right foot.

  • Functional testing: this involves testing at various stages of the brewing process, such as temperature, water pH, and gravity (which determines how much sugar can be converted to alcohol).

  • Quality testing: tasting the brew at each stage is necessary to ensure it’s on the right track.

  • Monitoring: the brew needs to be monitored at every step of the process. This helps you catch and fix any issues before they become major problems. The stakes are high, just as they are in a production system: you want to know immediately if something is amiss.

Conclusion

By implementing DevOps principles to my brewing process, I have been able to improve the quality and consistency of my beer while also reducing errors and waste. Whether you’re a software developer or a beer brewer, DevOps can help you achieve your goals and deliver high-quality results.

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