There are no shortage of crowdfunding projects aimed at helping you homebrew. What makes the Vessi Fermentor different is that it comes out of Whirlpool’s W Labs. Yes, appliance maker Whirlpool.
“It’s a sealed, temperature- and pressure-controlled system that will help you manage the complete fermentation process,” Noel Dolan, open innovation manager from Whirlpool, told Digital Trends. “Once you’ve created your wort and you put it in this unit, this unit will keep it sealed and it’s pressured and it’s temperature controlled, therefore creating the optimal environment to create great-tasting beer.”
Vessi has the potential to solve two of homebrewers’ biggest problems.
Serious homebrewers will have to dedicate some kitchen space to the unit. The Vessi is 24 inches by 24 inches and 36 inches tall. Set on castors, it has an 8-gallon tank, temperature and pressure controls, and an adjustable valve to release the off-gassing byproducts that come with fermentation. There’s also a sediment-removal system down below and a tap for pouring the beer into a pint container, keg, or bottles up top. “I think this is pretty game-changing compared to the traditional homebrewing system,” says Dolan.
Homebrewers often do their fermenting in a bucket, then transfer the contents to a plastic carboy, and then bottle or keg the beer. By eliminating some of these steps, there’s less to clean and sanitize, as well as a reduced chance of contaminating your beer with bacteria or wild yeast. The temperature control is also a bonus, as variations can negatively affect how the brew turns out, leading to off-tasting beer. Because the beer is under pressure, it’s force carbonated and cuts down the fermentation time.
Being able to control the temperature also means brewers can ensure the yeast are always active. High fermentation temperatures can make beer taste unintentionally spicy, woody, or fruity, while incomplete fermentation leads to flavors that resemble apples, almonds or varnish, Digital Trends’ resident homebrew expert and database administrator Dave Buchanan explains. He judges homebrew competitions and thinks the Vessi has the potential to solve both problems. There are ways to DIY a temperature-control system, but Vessi’s seems pretty elegant and effective, though we’ll have to wait until we test it to be sure.
Whirlpool’s Dolan sees making beer as a two-part procedure, the brew process and the fermentation process. The first part, the brew process, is where homebrewers pour in their artistry and passion, she said. “We didn’t want to mess with the part that they feel is their speciality and creating their art,” she said. “What we wanted to help them with is the pain points we were hearing, which is the second part of the process, the fermentation process, managing the temperature and pressure and carbonating.”
“There’s a real, meaningful innovation there, where they’re taking what’s a very difficult part of a process that, overall, people are very passionate about and it has a strong passionate following around, and that pain-point area, cutting it down significantly so that passionate crowd of people better enjoy their passion and their hobby,” Jerry Needel, head of Indiegogo’s Enterprise Crowdfunding service, told Digital Trends.
The temperature-controlled system lets you make a light, blonde-style beer in as little as seven days, though other types, like higher-percentage stouts, will take longer. If you’re a prolific producer, it’s also important to note that you’ll only be able to make one type of beer at a time, and each batch will yield five to six gallons.
Fifty early bird Vessi fermentors are available now on Indiegogo for $1,199, and the first 200 units will ship in time for the holidays. We always suggest using caution when crowdfunding, though the fact that this product is backed by Whirlpool may give a little more peace of mind.