Brewing Beer Made Easy
Creating an all-grain craft beer at home has been an involved task; mostly time. Today there are many options to making a craft beer at home. The simplest method, relative to time and space, is a compact automated counter-top system. At the other end of the spectrum are larger “all grain systems”. This latter option requires time, precision in controlling temperatures, ingredients, sparging grain bed and significant attention to sanitizing equipment.
Homebrewing is a 1.5 billion barrel a year endeavor. With the impact of the pandemic. Interest in homebrewing has grown. Today there are more than 1.2 million people involved in the art of creating craft beer at home. The average homebrewer is 42 years old, with 70% having an advanced degree.
People perceive homebrewing from individual perspectives, but there are common perspectives. For example:
- Occasional brewing is about private enjoyment and pride of accomplishment. People who are starting out and trying to define their personal beer preferences. In addition, they may be trying to get a feel for the commitment.
- They enjoy the community experiences of fellow brewers and have a pride in producing quality handcrafted beer. Their audience is fellow brewers, friends and family who enjoy the fruits of a friend’s labors.
- Others start brewing because they feel they are doing it to be healthful. People who proclaim craft beer can deliver benefits beyond conviviality. Beer researchers, if you believe what is on the internet, say there are ancillary benefits derived from quality beer, such as brain health, fiber, antioxidants, and skin tone, to name a few. Mass produced beer is not healthy beer, they say.
- There are brewers who like experimenting with different ingredients, combinations and techniques.
Whatever the motivation, there are options to getting into homebrewing in a way that fits personal requirements.
In May 2021, I saw two men on the TV show, “Shark Tank”, pitching a funding opportunity for an automated counter-top brewing machine. They got an offer from Kevin O’Leary, a Shark, but walked away from the deal and decided to grow the company organically. Prior to the “Shark Tank” show, their initial funding came from a Kickstarter campaign which raised $400,000 from 1,000 investors.
I followed-up on the status of the two guy’s presentation. It seems BEERMKR is doing well in Boulder, CO.
They are secretive about total units sold; however, they would confirm they have sold more than 2,000 units that are assembled in Boulder, CO. “We are working with some local fabricators to bring all manufacturing close to Boulder,” said Matt Goff, Co-Founder. “We have built the company on a reputation of quality; a reputation we work to deserve.” A few of their units are used by large brewery customers for small batch recipe testing.
If you like quality beer and are looking for a new hobby but do not have a lot of time and space, this product could be a solution. The Automated All Grain BEERMKR is a small counter-top, self-contained brewing system that is ultra-simple to operate and will keep you posted relative to progress via a wi-fi app. The amazing thing is that it is an all-grain system, not using extracts.
Wort (the liquid from grain and water, the first step in making beer) stays in a sealed pouch. After fermentation, it is transferred into the BEERTAP and carbonated. This entire process does not expose the beer to oxygen. CO2 cartridges provide the carbonation. A benefit of this system is that the cleanup is easy and the beer does not oxidize. The compact tap goes into the refrigerator for easy dispensing.
How good could a beer be that is brewed on a kitchen countertop? “A customer used his BEERMKR unit in a National Homebrew Competition, which is the Olympics of homebrewing, and won a Gold Medal for a Stout.” “The customer beat out 164 entrants to take home first prize at the competition,” says Matt Goff, Co-Founder of BEERMKR.
This counter-top homebrewing system offers users an uncomplicated way to explore homebrewing. This kind of brewing will give you enough feedback to know if the homebrewing hobby fits your lifestyle. The BEERMKR all grain brewing equipment has a full array of complete ingredient kits to start making any beer style. Further, with experience, a user’s can create their own recipes.
On the issue of kits, there are approximately forty-five styles of beers offered in a kit form, they contain everything you need to start a batch of beer. “The ingredients we select for our kits are from all the top tie maltsters, yeast providers, and we do get our varietal hops from premier growers,” said Goff.
The BEERMKR automatic brewing system is a 154 oz. design which yields the equivalent of 12-12 oz. cans of beer. A 5-gallon system is under development. Earlier I mentioned that sanitary equipment is important. The BEERMKR addresses that concern by having components that are dishwasher safe.
My homebrewing experience at this point has been with a BrewZilla All Grain Brewing system. This is a product that requires the brewer to control the complete brewing process that involves: temperatures, water, grain, hops, and yeast. There is lengthy fermentation time and carbonating. Recipes need to be followed precisely. For start-up homebrewers, it is important to recognize the amount of time and space required for brew days.
BEERMKR provides for a stress-free experience during the automated brewing steps. The apps wi-fi connection will alert you to anything that might require attention. Sensors built into the BEERMKR monitor the system functions throughout. The app tells you when to pitch yeast and hops and all the other steps.
Should you want several styles of beer on-hand simultaneously additional taps (BEERTAP) offer that option. The BEERMKR, which includes the brewing unit and the tap sell for $650 on Amazon and additional taps are $150.
The ingredient kits, called MKRKITS, sell for $10 to $23. A Mexican Lager beer kit sells for $19 and yields 12 – 12 oz. beers. The kit (BEERKIT) yields a beer that is: 4.5% ABV, 27 IBU, grain to glass time: 14 days. That is $1.60 per 12 oz. pour for a quality craft beer.
It is difficult to do any credible competitive review of counter brewing systems. It does appear there is another counter-top system. The BrewArt system is a 2.5-gallon system and has a tap system called a “BrewFlo” which is a self-contained 120-volt cooling system. The primary issue is cost; the BrewArt system with BrewFlo tap is advertised at $1,200.
The system is based on a DME (Dry Malt Extract) approach to start the process. There is no milled grain involved. It is not a closed system that would ensure no oxygen is in contact with the beer and carbonation is via an added sugar process that creates the CO2 post fermentation.
Every craft beer aficionado has favorites in a beer, it starts with taste and aromas. In the homebrewing space, taste and aromas are the Alpha and Omega of what the exercise is all about. The brewing process satisfies those two demands. The equipment and brewing kits (or personal recipes) you chose gives you the results.
Whether a homebrewer (male or female) is a newbie, a hobbyist, or experimenter, convenience is still a big part of evaluating an automated countertop grain-based system. It might encourage homebrewers to expand horizons into personal recipes.
On October 14, 1978, 44 years ago, President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337. This made it legal for anyone in all 50 states to brew their own beer at home, for family and friends, free of taxes. Interestingly, Prohibition ended almost 44 years prior to the signing of H.R. 1337.
Homebrewing is not a Jimmy Carter invention. “In The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest works of literature known to man, women were responsible for brewing beer in the Middle East as far back as 5,000 BC. Even in colonial America, beer-brewing was largely a female-dominated craft,” published in Lessons from History.