Homebrewing is a long-time passion of mine, but finding time to mash, sparge, and do a full boil amidst family life, hockey games, social events, and work has slowly become next to impossible. The BeerDroid from BrewArt has changed all of that.
As soon as I came to terms with not having time to do full-mash homebrewing (the process that takes crushed grains to sugary liquid and eventually to beer), I started looking for ways that I could keep brewing beer consistently and creatively with less time and effort. I stepped back to partial-mash and extract brewing for a while, but it only eliminated the grain-to-malt process. I still spent several hours boiling wort, dropping its temp, and sanitizing countless hoses, fittings, vessels, and parts. I used to love doing all this (maybe not all the cleaning), but doing it now left my brain chewing on a dozen other things I should be doing instead. Apart from not enjoying myself, I was making mistakes and skipping steps.
As homebrewing appliances started hitting the market, I initially dismissed them as a doomed sector filled with wannabe “beer Keurigs” that had no place in a generation of makers and DIYers. These devices can produce great beer, but certainly had no place in my creative and often experimental homebrewing routine.
The first one that made me do a double-take was the BeerDroid. Developed by Coopers, the largest brewery in Australia, the BeerDroid system is different than the other brewing appliances I’ve seen. Instead of taking a pod or pack, it has logical links to traditional homebrewing. Most of its mass is a bucket-like void that brewers fill with water and the individual components of a BrewPrint, BrewArt’s ready-made recipe kits. This was a step in the right direction for me, but it lacked the control over recipes I needed, or so I assumed. Coopers and BrewArt were smart enough to make every single ingredient and variable element from their BrewPrints purchasable on their own.
Okay, but would I just be making the beer equivalent of Kool-Aid?
To find out, I got my hands on a full BeerDroid system and their optional BrewFlo kegging, refrigeration, and dispensing system. Most BrewPrints are under $30 each, and shipping is a flat $15 anywhere in the US, so I ordered several, including a pale ale and a Sam Adams copycat called Tea Party Lager.
Homebrewers need to let the latter part of that steep for a moment. Yes, the BeerDroid will brew lagers - temperature control and all. Those yet to be homebrewers should note that consistent lagering for the average homebrewer is especially difficult because the top-fermenting yeast strains that produce lager fermentation prefer cold temperatures as low as 38° F. These are difficult to maintain temps for a five to six-gallon bucket of liquid in your garage.
I sanitized the system by filling the BeerDroid with water and dropping one of their sanitizing packs into it. About five minutes of active time was spent. I took another ten minutes getting it connected to WiFi, the app installed and linked to the machine. BrewArt lets you name your little droid, so Lager2D2 was born. I drained it of sanitizer an hour later and refilled it with ten liters of carbon-filtered tap water. After carefully dumping the bags of powdered BrewPrint components (instantly recognizable as powdered hopped dry malt extract) and sprinkling a pack of yeast on top, I locked the lid and directed the app to brew an ale. The screen immediately updated to “propagating.” Active time spent: 15 minutes.
I wouldn’t touch the machine again for several days while it finished propagation and then fermentation. The app pushed notifications any time a new milestone was reached until it was finally ready to keg. Traditional bucket and carboy homebrewing would have required racking from primary to a secondary fermenter before the kegging stage, but this would be the beer in my Lager2D2's first potential exposure to flavor-corrupting oxygen or airborne bacteria. Coopers thought of this and developed the kegging system to use deflated bags within a plastic ‘keg’ that connects to the output of the BeerDroid with a quick-lock connected tube. Lager2D2 isn’t going to let a stupid fleshbag spoil the beer it’s worked so diligently to produce.
After pouring in some sugar and aroma hops, both in liquid form, the two kegs I filled got to sit for a week or two while carbonation and conditioning occurred. In the mean time, I rinsed out the machine, sanitized it, and started a lager using the app.
I wanted to get a full two weeks of ale conditioning, but on day ten I gave in and dropped one of the ale kegs into the BrewFlo. After it was cold-ish, I poured a glass of crystal clear amber goodness. And it was very good - markedly better than my first bucket-fermented basement homebrew batch. This was delicious, plain and simple.
Did I mention it made very good beer?
My officemates and I decimated the two ale kegs a few days before the lager was finished. So quickly, in fact, that I was able to clean, sanitize, and re-use one of the special (disposable) keg bags as a test. All went well on all fronts- better than well- this lager was even better than the ale. Compared to the Sam Adams Boston Lager it mimics, it was just a shade darker in color, a little brighter in forward flavor, and an incredibly good brew just the same.
I could have stopped here with full satisfaction, like most consumers would and probably should, but the homebrew supply store near my office beckoned me for another trial. After doing some math with BrewPrint components and a digital scale, I bought three pounds of amber dry malt extract, some mosaic pellet hops, dry ale yeast, and a bottle of liquid hop extract. I should note that this cost me about $29, so I didn’t beat the price of a BrewPrint. I tossed everything into the BeerDroid, saving the hop extract for kegging, selected a generic ale and set it to work.
The result was alcoholic and very drinkable. It was cloudy because I used the pellet hops as-is instead of bagging or steeping them and using the water. The flavor was not near as refined as the BrewPrints, but it was still a decent beer. Most importantly, it proved to me that the BeerDroid was far more like the legit homebrewing I know and a measured step above a pod-based brewing appliance.
Coopers and BrewArt purpose built the BeerDroid with people who know beer brewing on an extremely high level. BrewPrints are designed and refined to produce truly remarkable beers in your home. The BrewFlow dispensing system is an extra pour of opulence that lets you showcase your homebrew in the best possible way. If you want to brew very good beer - regardless of former homebrewing experience, the BeerDroid system is the only toolset you need.