Home-brewing can be intimidating for a beginner. The first time we visited a home-brew store, we remember the owner glowering at us for choosing the wrong yeast. Once you’re up and brewing, it takes weeks for your beer to ferment, so if the final product is less than stellar, it can be a big disappointment.
But yesterday, three Germans launched a Kickstarter campaign to try to idiot-proof the brewing process. Their company, Brew Barrel (the site is in German), manufactures complete kits with premeasured ingredients and a process that is more akin to making a cake from a mix or building Ikea furniture than what we normally think of when we think about making beer.
When you receive your kit, just mix your chosen ingredients—which can include oddball flavorings like mango and mulberry—in the provided mini keg with some hot water, some cold water, then shake and seal. There’s no boiling involved and no risk of spillage or explosion. They have somehow eliminated almost all of the pitfalls usually associated with home-brewing. It sounds too good to be true, but Brew Barrel’s 40,000 satisfied German customers make us think they must be doing something right.
Another interesting innovation: a pressure valve that they claim will allow you to ferment your beer right in the keg and complete the process in just seven days. Experienced home brewers will probably claim that this doesn’t sound much like brewing, and before anyone starts writing in all caps in the comments section, we’ll concede the point. Thousands of pages have been written on the chemical processes involved in brewing, and Brew Barrel shortcuts almost all of them. But it’s clear from their campaign that this is not a product designed to satisfy experienced home brewers. It’s for beginners who want the fun of bringing their own beer to a party. And in that, they seem to be succeeding.
Brew Barrel says $60,000 will allow them to automate their production (right now, the three founders are still filling orders by hand). The money will also allow them to expand internationally. And while this shake-and-serve method might not be the most artistic or soulful way to make beer, it may be a great stepping-stone for people who didn’t think they could brew.