From making your bottled beer taste like it came from the tap of your favorite bar, to brewing your own beverage at the push of a button, these beer machines have the noble goal of making better tasting beer more accessible to all.
Ever wanted to bring your beer home in a doggie bag? No? Well, what if that doggie bag kept your beer fresh for up to 30 days, and hooked into a specialized tap on your kitchen counter? The $330 Synek Countertop Beer Dispenser promises all of that, and the dispenser that acts as the heart of the system also controls temperature and carbon dioxide as it pours.
I had my doubts about this dinky-looking plastic machine that promised to make your beer taste better using sound waves. But I was certainly happy to be proven wrong by the competent $170 Fizzics. It genuinely does make your bottled beer taste more like it came from the tap, without the use of carbon dioxide cartridges or any other elaborate paraphernalia. It works, and I promise that's not just the beer talking.
A connected beer brewing robot, the $2,000 PicoBrew Zymatic helped usher in this new wave of beer tech, and for a brand-new, very ambitious technology, it did a lot of things admirably well. Flaws and all, it's still one of the few automatic beer brewers currently available on the market.
With lessons learned from the Zymatic in tow, PicoBrew's coming out with a new, smaller, and easier-to-use brewer called the Pico. This $1,000 machine uses prepackaged ingredients to turn out a beer in around 2 hours. You'll still need to allow time for your brew to ferment, but using the Pico should be much easier on novices than using the Zymatic. It's due out sometime this spring (so hopefully soon), and we'll see if the results taste up to expectations.
Rounding out PicoBrew's trio of offerings, the $3,500 Brewvana stitches together the company's Pico with a temp controlled kegerator called the Kegsmarts to help regulate the longer stage of fermentation. The Brewvana will even tap your beer when it's done and add carbon dioxide while it pours. It's everything you need to automate the process from ingredients to your glass, if you can stomach the cost.
One of the most prominent competitors to PicoBrew, the upcoming $2,000 Brewie does everything the Zymatic can do plus a little more. You're still on your own for fermentation, but Brewie helps you cool your beer to get it ready for that process and has two main tanks in its body instead of just one to help it increase circulation throughout the brew.
A simpler way to regulate your beer's temp during fermentation, the $350 BrewJacket Immersion Pro sits in the mixture and controls the temp directly. It functions similarly to sous vide circulators, and would complement automatic brewers like Brewie and the Zymatic that take your beer up to fermentation without including it in the automation.
Another fermentation machine, the upcoming Vessi from Whirlpool goes beyond simple temperature control. For a hefty $1,900 expected retail price, Vessi controls the temperature, pressurizes your fermenting beer to speed up carbonation, helps you remove sediment, and lets you tap the final result. Given the price difference, BrewJacket will be fine for most, but if you want to go big into brewing, Vessi has the features to be enticing.
The very large, very expensive $4,000 BrewBot just started shipping to its Kickstarter backers. BrewBot's certainly not something you could fit on your kitchen counter, but it does look good, and it does handle the brewing process from start to finish, while letting you add ingredients and make changes along the way if you'd like.
The $990 iGulu (formerly Artbrew), available for preorder now on Indiegogo after a successful campaign on Kickstarter, is one of the smallest automatic brewers at roughly the size of your microwave. Surprisingly, despite its size, it matches the Brewvana and BrewBot in automating the process all the way through fermentation. If it can pull off an authentic and accurate process despite its size, iGulu could be the most accessible beer machine to date.
Then, there's the upcoming SodaStream Beer Bar. It's an automatic beer brewing machine by name if not actual execution. It brews in the same way that sticking a frozen dinner in a microwave counts as cooking. Basically, it'll inject carbonated water into concentrate and you'll have yourself a tall container of something similar to beer. That said, it should be much simpler and quicker than the machines that automate an authentic process, so it'll have convenience going for it. If it can come close on flavor, it might be worth a look.
Walking the line between an authentic beer brewing machine and the SodaStream Beer Bar that just adds bubbles to concentrate, Coopers BrewArt starts with concentrate so you can skip the mash and the boil, but still goes through an authentic, temperature-controlled fermentation process. The two pieces of the system are the BeerDroid that ferments, and the BrewFlo that carbonates and taps the finished product. Coopers is known for homebrew products, so we'll see if they've managed to speed things up with BrewArt without sacrificing quality when BrewArt comes out later this year.