Hop On: There’s a Sudsy New Wave of Homebrew Appliances Looking To Automate Beer Brewing

  • Miles
  • May 31, 2019
  • Comments Off on Hop On: There’s a Sudsy New Wave of Homebrew Appliances Looking To Automate Beer Brewing

How many people will make beer at home if you give them an machine to help in the process?

The next few years should provide an answer to that question as a new wave of beer-brewing appliances hit the market.

Home beer brewing machines aren’t new. PicoBrew started shipping the Zymatic a few years back and followed that product with the consumer-focused Pico. Brewie started shipping its second generation, the Brewie+, last year. Australian extract-beer giant Coopers got into the game in 2017 with BrewArt (though technically some wouldn’t call extract-derived beer “brewing”), and we’re not even counting those like HOPii that have already come and gone.

Despite all this activity, it seems the homebrew market has only just started to pick up speed. With that in mind, here’s a quick look at the new entrants to home brewing appliances coming to the U.S. in the next year:

BEERMKR

Set to ship this summer, BEERMKR’s open platform and proven ability to deliver products make this startup one of the more promising new entrants to the home brew appliance space.

Here’s what I wrote in March after I saw the BEERMKR in action at the Housewares show:

The system, which comes with a brewing appliance and a beer dispenser, sells for a post-Kickstarter price of $399 for the complete system. MKR KITs, the optional ingredient packs for those that want to “brew-by-number”, will each cost $12 and deliver a gallon or so of beer.

At $399, BEERMKR is one of the most affordable new entrants to the market. The company will sell MKR KITS that include all the ingredients for a batch of beer for $12, though you can also use your own grains and hops.

You can watch founder Aaron Walls walk me through the product below:

LG HomeBrew

We were as surprised as anyone when LG announced their intent to enter the home-brewing appliance space in advance of this year’s CES. The new appliance, aptly called LG HomeBrew, sees the South Korean appliance giant taking a Keurig-style approach to home brewing with an all-in-one capsule-based system that automates the entire process, including dispensing.

If anything, a big consumer electronics brand like LG entering the home-brew-appliance space helps legitimize it, even if LG runs into challenges finding a market for their product. Of course, much of the product’s ultimate success will depend on pricing and on how well it actually works, but I worry that by creating a fully-capsule based system the company might be going against the trend towards more open brewing systems. After all, consumers who go through the trouble of making beer at home have shown they want some room for creativity, one of big the reasons PicoBrew finally opened their platform to enable ‘bring-your-own-ingredients’.

MiniBrew

MiniBrew, the brain child of two Dutch advertising executives, is different from all the other appliances on this list for one reason: it’s already shipping.

The product, for which the company raised €2.6M in funding in December, started shipping throughout Europe in the fall of last year and the company is targeting a 2020 entry into the U.S. market.

Cofounder Olivier van Oord gave me a walk-through of the MiniBrew when I was in Europe last month, and I have to say I liked what I saw. The system is both open enough to allow the brewer to craft their own recipes while also also applying enough automation to make the brewing process (and serving) much easier and approachable.

One aspect I liked was an app that allows the user to craft recipes easily around their own beer preferences. From there, they can order ingredients based on their own recipe or choose an ingredient pack based on a beer from one of MiniBrew’s partners. Once the wort is created, the user tosses the yeast into the brew keg and tells it to start the fermentation process with the app.

Keeping the the wort and what becomes the fully fermented beer contained in one keg that also serves as the (fully refrigerated) dispensing keg is something van Oord saw as critical, in part because it eliminates room for error:

“Where beer goes wrong is in the transport of wort,” he said. “Working clean is the most important part of beer brewing.”

The MiniBrew isn’t cheap, selling for €1,200 (which is roughly $1,350 USD), but for those that was a powerful but open system — and one that is already shipping — the MiniBrew is a strong contender.

You can see my walk through of the MiniBrew below:

DrinkWorks

While not technically a home-brewing machine, DrinkWorks at least deserves mention for one reason: the home adult beverage machine is a product of a joint venture between Keurig and the world’s largest beer company, AB InBev.

The DrinkWorks machine, which is available in beta in the Budweiser’s hometown of St Louis, MO, uses pods to make cocktails and, surprisingly, beer. While it’s unclear exactly how the beer is made from a pod, it’s not through traditional brewing and fermentation methods. But for those that like the idea of making cockails and beer at the press of a button with a Keurig-like pod system, you have to at least be intrigued by DrinkWorks.

While DrinkWorks has been fairly vague on details, we expect the product to be more widely rolled out later this year. For now the DrinkWorks machine will set you back $299, though pricing could change in future.

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