T he dream of your own beer: brewing robots are set to make it come true. Start-ups are investing a lot to be able to brew in their own kitchens in the future. For example, a kitchen table is enough for the minibrew. The device is only slightly larger than a food processor and is said to yield five liters of beer per brewing session.
For this, the barrel-shaped fermentation tank of the Minibrew has a power connection and independently controls the temperature of the fermentation by cooling or heating for several weeks.
Those who want to brew multiple beers at once can order additional tanks. "But five liters is enough for household use," says Olivier van Oord, founder of Dutch startup Minibrew. He and his business partner Bart van de Kooij are relying on crowdfunding, and their backers on the Indiegogo platform have so far raised nearly 70.000 euros brought in. This year, Minibrew plans to deliver the first pre-series units at a unit price of just over 1,800 euros, with series production scheduled to start in April 2016.
In the future, there will be a marketplace for brewing recipes
Minibrew is controlled by smartphone app, and users can use dials to set how much alcohol the beer should contain and what flavor and color should be achieved. Such start-up beers usually have a higher alcohol content than classic brand beers, over ten percent by volume.
Sensors in the device record exactly what happens in the robot’s kettle during each brewing process.
"Logs allow brewers to track when they added which ingredients, what temperatures the minibrew has used. Recipes can be exported."This should also make Minibrew interesting for gourmet chefs, who can first try out different beer variants and then give the right recipe to a small brewery to have a few thousand liters brewed at once.
"If enough users have a minibrew, the idea is to create our own marketplace for beer brewing recipes" hopes van Oord. "Professional brewers could also license their recipes, and send the ingredients around the world."
Brewing beer is an art
The fact that making your own beer has become a hipster trend can also be seen at the Web Summit in Dublin. In the corner of a tent at the tech conference, another brewing robot is brewing away like this. A large box made of wood and brushed stainless steel, about 1.20 meters high. The device is called Brewbot and also produces home-brewed beer fully automatically.
It emits small clouds of steam that smell like malt, and four colored lights indicate what’s happening under the steel lid: Green stands for heating up, with white, blue or red lights the device signals that it is waiting for ingredients or wants cleaning.
"Brewing beer isn’t exactly easy – you have to keep the right amount of water at the right temperature, you have to add ingredients like hops or yeast at just the right time, you can’t heat for too short or too long," says Adam Robertson. "Brewbot takes care of all that – with it, even beginners should be able to make beer that actually tastes good."Robertson is one of the inventors of the Brewbot, he works as Vice President Product in the small Northern Irish start-up Brewbot Ltd, which wants to revolutionize the world of home-brewed beer from Belfast.
500 varieties of home brew beer
Especially in the northwest of the USA, homebrewing is currently a big trend: followers of the cool light beer grow hops in their backyards and cultivate yeast. Brewspaces are opening their doors in every major city in California, Washington or Oregon, where homebrewers can bring their own beer creations to a boil under professional guidance and with loaner equipment.
Amazon lists over 500 different home brewing kits.com for those who want to try it on their own at home, and Internet forums and recipe books are used to exchange the best beer brewing recipes. But there is a catch. Because brewing beer in your own kitchen has high potential for frustration, as a lot can go wrong.
"Even if you use the exact same ingredients twice, you won’t be able to brew the same beer twice with conventional equipment," says Robertson. That’s why Robertson and his colleagues presented the Brewbot on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter – and were able to raise 160.Collecting 000 euros from potential buyers.
Robot takes control of brewing process
They, too, are focusing on automating the brewing process. Users can control the brewing robot via app, and no longer have to spend hours monitoring temperatures or water levels themselves. The device does this independently with sensors for pressure and temperature and simply draws the water from the water supply as needed.
The device signals exactly when to add which ingredients via app – the entire brewing process takes about four to five hours, but customers only have to actually do anything for about half an hour; the rest of the time, the robot independently controls what goes on in its kettle.
Just under 20 liters of beer are said to come out per brewing session. Brewbot customers will be able to exchange recipes with each other via an app, and the start-up founders want to earn money not only with the robot, but also by shipping ingredient packages. If you want, you can have a case of malt, hops and yeast for an Irish stout shipped to a place where you can’t get a real Guinness bottled in Dublin, for example.
For the family peace the robot is not necessarily a good idea. "Brewbot has limited wife compatibility," Robertson admits. With a height of 120 centimeters and a width of more than one meter, the device does not necessarily fit into the typical hipster design kitchen, unlike the smaller Minibrew. The price of just under 3,000 euros could also lead to domestic debates.
So far, only an initial batch of just over 120 units has been delivered to Kickstarter backers, many of them startups or IT companies that want to offer their employees something extra in the office kitchen. "Restaurants that want to brew their own beer also come to us – it’s important to them that the recipes can be reproduced exactly," Robertson says.
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