A handful of craft beer audience targeted innovative gadgets are released each year to varying degrees of actual usefulness. There are four recently released devices that have caught our eye: Growler Chill, Tilt floating Hydrometer/Thermometer, Beer Buddy, and Alchema. Growler Chill turns your growler collection into a mini kegerator; Tilt is a useful new homebrewing gadget; Beer Buddy is a fun new way to serve draft beer; and Alchema makes homebrewing hard cider fun and easy.
I have never been a big growler guy. I am not crazy about my beer getting oxidized and flat when I can purchase a perfectly good bottle or can. Yet, the recent growlers that offer pressurized caps and taps to keep your beer fresh and under pressure have some potential.
Growler Chill is a new countertop craft beer appliance, similar to the Fizzics system that turns bottles or growlers into simulated draft beer. However, Growler Chill actually lets you load up to three different growlers into it while purging oxygen from them and keeping them cold. It also has a free mobile app so that users can both control and track the temperature and pressure of each growler and even how much beer is left in each.
Growler Chill is a kickstarter program launched by Penguin Tap that easily surpassed its $175,000 funding goal in less than 24 hours. At over $400,000, it’s among the top 3 percent of successfully finded kickstarter projects. Get in on the Kickstarter campaign before it ends on February 28, 2017.
Make your own hard cider, mead, or even wine at home as simply as you make a pot of coffee with this slick new countertop apple fermentation system. This is truly a cool and innovative brewing appliance on the level of PicoBrew that makes home fermentation possible without any real knowledge and very little responsibility. What makes it really exceptional, though, is it’s not reliant on you pouring in apple juice or concentrate; you actually just add diced apples of whatever variety you choose, so it does lend a little fun and creativity to the super simple DIY experience.
Start off by downloading the Alchema app, which has hundreds of programmed recipes, add the ingredients–which Alchema will weigh itself–and the app will tell you when your reach the right amount. It will also tell you how much yeast to add for each recipe. Alchema sells yeast packs with three different varieties of yeast for use whether you’re making sparkling, sweeter, or stronger fermentations.
Alchema uses a medical grade UV-C LED light that sanitizes the container for use. The Alchema app is truly a smart fermentation device that monitors all aspects of the fermentation through its app, so you won’t need to open the device at all until it’s finished fermenting. There is also even a handy “progress indicator” light up bar on the Alchema lid that shows the progress and closeness to completion of your fermented beverage.
Alchema pre-orders are a substantial $429 through Kickstarter with a few different backer options. Alchema is expected to ship in July 2017 so it might make for a good summer activity or order it as an early Christmas gift?
Tilt is a wireless hydrometer and thermometer for brewing with an Apple or Android app that lets users instantly check their beers specific gravity and temperature. Homebrewers can then choose to save that info directly to a cloud service like Google Sheets.
With this handy gadget you can test your specific gravity and temp while fermentation is still going on, and you don’t have to risk contamination or losing valuable beer by pulling it from the fermentation unit.
Each Tilt comes calibrated and ready to go with a pre-installed battery and the gadget is super easy to use–just sanitize it and drop it into the fermenting alcohol. Download the free Tilt app at the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
The Beer Buddy is a little bit gimmicky but does have some real convenience and form factor, especially for its compact and mobile no-hassle format. What is it? It’s a German device that dispenses beer from a special party keg device that fills glasses from the bottom up after being loaded onto the serving tray.
Beer Buddy is designed to use a 5-liter party keg, which is loaded inside the insulated system. While it does not chill your beer, it should keep the keg cold for awhile. It comes with handles and is small, so it’s great to take to parties and events. The only piece of equipment you need in addition to the main system is the special glassware; it does not have a draft tower or any kind of tapping faucet, so it’s pretty hard to fuck up and looks really cool.
Beer Buddy is a successfully funded indiegogo campaign available for pre-order for $189 wth an expected July 2017 ship date.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.