The "cause of and solution to all of life's problems" according to one Homer Simpson, is getting a technological upgrade. Now, you can brew a batch of beer with the push of a button, bring home your favorite beer from a bar and tap it on your own counter, or make the bottled stuff taste more like it came from the tap using sound waves. Seriously.
These 12 devices each use technology to improve your beer drinking experience -- a worthy cause for tech if I've ever heard one.
Most of the devices in this list automate the process of brewing beer. But the $330 Synek Dispenser just wants to make it easier to bring your favorite beverage home from the bar. Essentially a doggie bag for beer, ask a willing bartender to fill up a Synek cartridge for you instead of a growler, then bring the bag home and snap it into the carbonated temperature controlled tap and enjoy it at your leisure.
Of course, if you don't want to bother with doggie bags and taps, the $170 Fizzics is a simple countertop device that makes bottled beer taste more like it was poured fresh from the tap. Believe it or not, it uses sound waves to stir up your beer and pour it smoothly into your glass with a satisfyingly frothy head -- and it actually works pretty well.
Or you can forget heading to the bar and make your favorite beer yourself. The $2,000 PicoBrew Zymatic helped usher in this glorious new age of beer tech. It's a Wi-Fi enabled brewer that mashes grain, adds hops, boils, and does almost everything you need to create a delicious beer automatically. PicoBrew even has a variety of recipes to browse from online, as well as packs of ingredients. The Zymatic isn't foolproof for beginners, though, especially since you need to ferment your beer outside of the main contraption.
The $1,000 Pico hopes to simplify the automatic brewing process when it launches in the coming months. Smaller and less expensive than the Zymatic, with the Pico, you'll simply need to insert one package of ingredients, called a "PicoPak," and hit start. But you'll still need to ferment separately.
The $3,500 PicoBrew Brewvana combines the PicoBrew Pico with the PicoBrew Kegsmarts. The Kegsmarts uses a fridge to control the temperature of your brew while it ferments, as well as a tap so that when your beer is ready, you can cool it to the appropriate temp and pour it into your waiting glass.
Looking to outdo the Zymatic, the upcoming Brewie will use two tanks to brew your beer instead of just one. That should lead to better circulation as your beer cooks and hopefully better beer as a result. The $2,000 machine will also help you cool your unfermented beer, or wort, before you need to transfer it to your separate fermenting container, though you're still on your own after that.
Basically a sous vide immersion circulator for beer, the $350 BrewJacket won't help you with the first stages of making your brew, but it comes to your rescue just when Brewie and PicoBrew are leaving you on your own. BrewJacket sits in your beer as it ferments and helps keep the temperature even while the yeast does its thing. If you don't have a cool basement or closet, the BrewJacket could help you avoid off flavors produced by over-warm fermenting.
Vessi does the same basic task as the BrewJacket -- it controls the temp of your fermenting beer, but it has the looks and cost of a large appliance, and adds on helpful features such as pressurizing your beer to speed up carbonation, helping you remove sediment and letting you tap your beer once it's ready. All of that helps it justify its premium asking price of $1,900. BrewJacket's undoubtedly a better choice for those short on money or space, but Vessi could be a cool statement piece if you're ready to invest in your brewing.
An all-in-one automatic brewer, the expensive $4,000 BrewBot will take care of mashing, boiling, and fermenting your beer for you. You'll need lots of space for it, but it looks great and allows lots of customization as you gain experience and want to fine tune your process. BrewBot looks like professional equipment for those serious about homebrewing.
iGulu also brews beer from start to finish. It produces smaller batches than BrewBot, but also costs much less and takes up about as much space as your microwave. The $990 iGulu still isn't cheap, but it looks like it brews with an authentic process while still being simple to use.
For a less authentic, though probably much easier way to automatically brew beer, the SodaStream Beer Bar injects concentrate with carbonated water. If waiting for beer to cook and ferment doesn't sound interesting to you, but you still want to say you made beer, SodaStream has you covered. Just change the subject if your friends ask you for details.
Finally, walking the line between SodaStream's simplicity and actually brewing beer, Coopers' upcoming BrewArt still starts with concentrate, but your beer will ferment naturally and allow you to tinker with the recipe as you'd like. BrewArt comprises two main devices -- the BeerDroid that ferments and the BrewFlo that cools and taps the finished product.