We’ve known enough home brewers to have witnessed the full range of their results, from the undrinkable to the delightful. Here in the Pacific Northwest, everyone with a flannel shirt thinks they can brew beer, so that’s about 99 percent of the population. A new device might actually make the product of these endeavors potable.
Brew-Boss, recently launched on Kickstarter, is an automated beer-making machine that virtually anyone can use. Its Android app guides users through the process with voice commands, and the controller takes care of the temperature and timing requirements, based on the recipe or your preferences.
Here’s how it works: You fill the kettle with water, and the controller heats it to a “strike” or starting temperature. You then add the grains to the kettle in a mesh bag or the specialized filter that is only included at certain funding levels. As the pump recirculates the water, the controller maintains the temperature. Once the time is up, you take out the grain bag and the concoction then boils for a certain amount of time. You can add the hops manually or the Hops-Boss can add them for you. The chiller brings the brew back to room temperature. When its cool, put the kettle’s contents into a fermenter, add yeast, and air lock it. After about a week, remove the sediment. After another week, the fermentation should be done and you can chill and drink your beer.
The whole process obviously takes a couple of weeks, but the actual brewing part should only last about three-and-a-half hours. It’s shorter than other systems, because there’s only one tank, which speeds up the clean-up and sanitation processes. Unlike some home brew systems, Brew-Boss runs on electricity instead of propane. The kettles come in 10-, 15-, and 20-gallon sizes, which make 5, 10, and 15 gallons of beer, respectively. The entire kit weighs between 40 and 50 pounds, so it’s somewhat portable.
There are three recipes currently on Brew-Boss’s website, but experienced brewers needn’t be limited to them. “The app is completely customizable and allows for an unlimited number of mash steps, hops additions, boil times, etc.,” says Darin Danelski, its creator. “An integrated spreadsheet-entry system allows the user to define his or her own brew steps to fit the recipe they are creating… advanced users will find the system is completely flexible and powerful enough for any brew need.” The app allows you to save your parameters, so you can recreate a particularly delicious experiment.
This is Brew-Boss’s second attempt at making a brewing system. The first time around, the company was basically hacking together existing equipment, like turkey fryers, into home brew kits. Now it wants all the parts to be custom-made. The system will also contain its own router; right now it only works with Android tablets, but the company wants to make an iOS version, too.
Right now, a limited number of backers can pick up a 10-gallon Brew-Boss for $1,049, and there are similar offers for the bigger kettles; once those are gone, a 15-gallon version costs $1,299. That makes it slightly cheaper than Brewie, a similar machine that’s currently on Indiegogo. Unlike that machine, however, the Brew-Boss doesn’t come with a fermentation tank or kegs, so you’ll have to purchase those separately.
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