BEERMKR vs. Mr Beer
Brewing your own beer at home is an immensely rewarding process. However it can be a challenging and confusing process as well. Before you can enjoy a cold pint of home brewed beer, every new brewer must first do their homework and learn this complicated process, purchase the requisite equipment consisting of buckets, kettles, sanitizers, cleaners, bottles, mash tuns, filters, hosing, and so on. This is why many beginner brewers look to systems that handle some or all of this process for them. Two of the most commonly used systems here in the US are BEERMKR and Mr. Beer. In this article, we’re going to look at Mr. Beer vs. BEERMKR so you can get an understanding of how each system works and which is the right fit for you.
What are these systems? Mr. Beer vs. BEERMKR
MR BEER is a small batch brewing system that uses malt extracts to produce fermented beer. It’s an affordable and simple way to try brewing and consists primarily of a fermentation jug called a "little brown keg". All the ingredients go in, and out comes beer a few weeks later.
BEERMKR is an automated, wifi connected, all-grain beer making machine that makes pro-level brewing accessible to anyone by handling all the hard and time consuming parts of the process. It takes a high-tech approach to brewing beer with a plethora of sensors and auto control features which drastically simplifies the process for the beginner without sacrificing customization and experimentation. BEERMKR is an all-grain brewer, meaning it produces beer the same way professional craft breweries do it.
All-Grain vs. Extract
All beer comes from malted barley, wheat, corn and rice. To make wort, which is beer that hasn’t yet been fermented, grains are soaked in hot water to soften their starches and activate enzymes that convert these starches into sugar that can be fermented into beer. This process is called mashing. Mashing requires a lot equipment and is considered an advanced brewing technique that is used exclusively by commercial breweries, advanced homebrewers, and sophisticated systems like BEERMKR. There are dozens of different types of grains that are combined together to produce the full creative array of beer styles we enjoy today. When brewing all grain, the brewer is relying on whole grains to produce their wort.
Extracts on the other hand are produced in large industrial plants. Grains are mashed into wort, and that wort is sent to a big device called an evaporator. The water is removed from the wort to produce a syrup. This syrup is further dried to produce a powder. These syrups and powders are called Malt Extracts. In extract brewing, like with Mr. Beer, they are rehydrated with water to produce wort which is then fermented into beer. The extract production process creates distinctive flavors that you won’t find in commercial beer, making it easy to spot a beer produced by extract as they never seem to taste quite like their all-grain counterparts. You can still make passable beer with extract, it just won’t taste like a commercial brew. Your extract options are also limited so many brewers manually augment their extract brewing with grains to add better flavor development.
Are they easy to use? How much time is required? Mr. Beer vs. BEERMKR
Mr. Beer: To start brewing with Mr. Beer, you’ll need a big pasta pot for boiling water. Following the instructions to set up a brew takes about 30 minutes and is fairly easy.
After combining the ingredients in the plastic jug that comes with Mr. Beer, it’s time to ferment.
Fermenting takes about two weeks, however there is no temperature control so if the temp is too high or too low, your beer may have off flavors, so choose a place in your house that gives the right temperature for the yeast. Once your beer is done fermenting, it’s time to carbonate. The cheaper Mr. Beer kits do not come with bottling equipment, so make sure to buy the bottling equipment or a mini keg for this step. Sanitizing is key here, and improper cleaning/sanitizing is where most first timers go wrong.
Leave your beer in the bottles for another 2 weeks to condition, then it’s time to drink!
BEERMKR: BEERMKR makes all-grain brewing beer at home almost idiot proof.
Setting up BEERMKR takes 5 minutes, and it is so easy to use that anyone can do it. BEERMKR is a beer brewing machine that controls the entire process of start to finish. BEERMKR automatically brings the temperature up for the mash step, then cools to get ready to pitch your yeast and ferment.
During the fermentation step, BEERMKR optimizes the temperature for the given yeast strain, so you’re guaranteed to get great tasting beer every time.
After fermentation is complete, it is time to carbonate! Just transfer your BeerBag over to the BEERTAP, screw in the provided CO2 cartridge, and you’re drinking beer just a day later.
How do they handle the brewing and mash step?
Mr. Beer: Since Mr. Beer uses extracts, no mashing is required. You simply mix the extract with water and yeast to start fermentation.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR produces wort using an all-grain mash. Just add water and grains from a MKRKIT or grains you bought at your local homebrew shop. Setting up a brew takes just 5 minutes, then BEERMKR does the rest. BEERMKR mashes automatically then cools it down to the perfect temperature for pitching your yeast.
How do they handle fermentation?
Mr. Beer: To ferment your wort, Mr. Beer has provided a small plastic fermenter, also known as the “little brown keg”. There is no temperature control at all, so make sure to choose where you leave the fermenter for the next two weeks wisely. Every yeast strain has an optimal temperature to ferment, so get out your thermometer and find a nice cool spot in your home. Too cold and the yeast never fully activate, yielding beer that is too sweet and not fermented through. Too warm and you’ll create off flavors or even kill the yeast, which tastes very very bad. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, leave your beer alone for about 2 weeks.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR takes the total opposite approach to Mr. Beer. Fermentation is arguably the most important part of making beer. It’s where the wort is transformed into a beer. Whether it is an American Ale or a Belgian Golden is up to the yeast! This is also where most of the Mr Beer issues arise. Temperature controlled fermentation is absolutely key if you want to make and drink great beer, so BEERMKR was designed to control the entire fermentation.
The body is fully insulated, and it’s heating and cooling pads control and monitor the temperature throughout the entire fermentation process. BEERMKR precisely controls the primary fermentation, rest, and can even cold crash your beer. It even communicates with the BEERMKR cloud to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. If you’re making your own recipe, BEERMKR lets you modify the fermentation schedule to fit your recipe. Depending on the recipe, BEERMKR can complete fermentation anywhere between 3 and 10 days. All this temperature control means you can create ANY style of beer you want, from cold fermenting German Lagers to warm fermenting Norwegian Kveik Farmhouse beers and everything in between like American IPAs.
How do they carbonate and serve?
Mr. Beer: To carbonate and serve your beer, you need to buy an additional bottling kit or kegging kit, either from Mr. Beer or your local homebrew store. While it feels like you’re close to the finish line, there are still weeks to go and plenty that could go wrong. Bottling/kegging is a lesson in patience and sanitation. Sanitize the bottles or keg, add your carbonating sugars, fill the vessels making sure to minimize any exposure to oxygen or bacteria, then close them up. The carbonating takes another 2 weeks, then fingers crossed, you’ve made a tasty batch of beer.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR isn’t just a beer brewing machine, it’s a beer making machine. That means the work is not done until you’re drinking beer. To carbonate your beer, just disconnect the BrewBag of fermented beer and put it in your BEERTAP (which comes standard with any BEERMKR purchase). The biggest difference between BEERMKR and any other process, is that you never have to pour the beer from one vessel to another, so you never risk contamination with oxygen or bacteria. Bottling and kegging require lots of time and effort for cleaning and sanitation. Transferring your beer to the BEERTAP however takes only 5 minutes. Then you screw in the CO2 cartridge that comes with your MKRKIT, and in 24 hours you can pour a fresh beer right from your fridge. Wait a little longer and the beer just gets better and better.
What type of ingredients do they use?
Mr. Beer: Mr. Beer only works with extracts which you can buy from Mr. Beer. This severely limits the styles of beer you can make the creativity you can express in recipe creation. The beer can turn out okay, but most seasoned beer drinkers can identify that extract flavor, leaving a lot to be desired in the glass.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR uses the same ingredients as your local craft brewery. Grains, hops, and yeast. They pack a growing variety of MKRKITs in almost any style, or feel free to head down to your local homebrew shop to create your own recipe from scratch.
Can you customize your own recipe?
Mr. Beer: The only way to customize your batch on Mr. Beer is to go rogue. Take the core ingredients and bring them to your stove. You’ll be using traditional homebrew methods which are outside the scope of the Mr Beer product.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR is a completely open homebrewing machine that not only allows, but encourages experimentation. You can build off one of our many MKRKITs, or you can start from scratch with your own ingredients. The sky's the limit.
Does it make good beer?
Mr. Beer: If you perform every step perfectly, then Mr. Beer can make solid extract beer. Any missteps and there is serious potential for disaster. The inconsistency in fermentation temperatures due to natural swings in your home’s temperature can produce significantly different beers if your house happens to go through a warm spell in the summer, or a cooler time in the winter. This inconsistency makes it very difficult to predict whether the beer will turn out good, okay, or bad.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR makes great beer. Gold Medal Winning beer, in fact. We recently had a BEERMKR brewer with Gold at the national homebrew competition! So yes, BEERMKR makes great beer. The key is consistency in the process. If you brew the same beer twice in a row, it will taste the same each time because all of the variables will be the same. This makes BEERMKR very attractive for the experimental brewer who is producing new recipes for a larger system, or competition brewers who often need to brew the exact same beer for multiple rounds of brewing competitions. Brewing the same gold medal winning beer can be nearly impossible without a brewing system that gives you a consistent process time and again.
How much does it cost?
Mr. Beer: Mr. Beer is the absolute cheapest way to try brewing. A kit with everything you need to brew, ferment, and carbonate will run you about $50. Kits range from about $25-$50 for 2 gallons of beer. If you get good results and if you want to keep brewing, odds are you’ll upgrade your equipment pretty quickly.
BEERMKR: BEERMKR costs $579 for everything you need to make awesome craft beer at home. The kits make just over a gallon of beer and cost $15.
In the end, when you compare BEERMKR and Mr. Beer, you can see that these are two drastically different systems. High tech vs. low tech. All-Grain vs. Extract. Consistent results vs. variability. The list goes on.
Mr. Beer acts as a low-cost way to try making beer. Need a gift idea for a friend who likes beer, why not throw $40-50 at a Mr. Beer? By using malt extracts, they cut out the brewing step completely, but drastically limit the freedom and creativity that you can bring to your beer. Mr. Beer takes a very low-tech approach, and relies on the brewers to manage temperature, cleaning and sanitizing. Experienced brewers can make good extract beer using a Mr. Beer, but it leaves a lot up to the brewer. First timers will still have to learn a long process and pay attention to details like sanitation and oxygen minimization. Given the system’s limitation, most brewers outgrow Mr. Beer quickly, or give up because the beer wasn’t all that great.
BEERMKR, on the other hand, helps new brewers make great beer right out of the gate. By fully automating the entire process, BEERMKR ensures consistent and delicious beer. It takes almost no time to set up, so you get to focus on the fun aspects of brewing, mixing and matching ingredients (or just drinking). As you learn more and more about brewing, you can start to add your own touch to our MKRKITs, and even start integrating ingredients from your local brew shop or home brewing club. As you grow in the brewing hobby, BEERMKR grows with you by opening up the world of recipe and process experimentation. There is really no limit to what you can do with BEERMKR.