SodaStream, Beer
Credit: © SodaStream International Ltd.

All-in-one beer making systems have been a hot topic as of late. The forthcoming PicoBrew, which promises to be like a coffeemaker for beer (and at around the same size to boot), seems to be the most promising of these new systems. But plenty of others of varying sizes and prices are out there. Even appliance maker Whirpool recently announced they’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to get one off the ground. But yesterday, one of the biggest names in home soda-making systems announced they’ve entered the beer-making market: SodaStream.

The Beer Bar by SodaStream claims it is capable of “making quality home-crafted beer using sparkling water and a unique beer concentrate,” according to a press release. That statement is a bit of a headscratcher: Is beer truly “home-crafted” if users are simply forcing carbonated water into a beer concentrate? It’d be like saying you can make a quality home-cooked meal by adding water to a plate of dehydrated food.

At least with other all-in-one beer systems, there’s actual brewing going on. The Beer Bar essentially does for beer what a SodaStream does for soda – which I guess should be expected – however, for now at least, the Beer Bar doesn’t allow much flexibility. Whereas SodaStream not only has its own products, but also name-brand products like Pepsi and Welch’s, as well serving a dual purpose of simply making carbonated water, the Beer Bar is launching with literally one product: a light beer called Blondie. One liter of Blondie concentrate yields about three liters of 4.5 percent ABV beer with a self-described “smooth authentic taste, and a hop filled aroma.” You know it’s authentic when they tell you it’s authentic!

If you don’t like the Blondie, you’re SOL at this point. Meanwhile, PicoBrew is planning to launch with a number of big-name beer brands like Dogfish Head offering up kits; SodaStream launching this product with just one proprietary beer seems a bit strange. The one thing the Beer Bar does have going for it is price. A bottle of the concentrate will run you a little more than three dollars and you can pick up soda stream hardware for under $100. A PicoBrew on the other hand costs $700.

Luckily, as an American, you don’t have to worry about whether you want to invest in a Beer Bar just yet. The product is only available in Germany and Switzerland to start. “Other markets” aren’t anticipated until “late 2016 and 2017.” Until then, you’ll have to settle for getting your beer the old-fashioned way: Going to a store and picking from a wide variety of beers you already know you like.