BEERMKR Vs Traditional Homebrewing
BEERMKR is an innovative new beer brewing machine that lets anyone, regardless of their experience, brew delicious craft beer right in their own home. This article will walk through the steps in traditional homebrewing, and how BEERMKR has drastically simplified this complex process.
Traditional homebrewing uses either malt extracts or whole grains like barley, wheat, corn, and rice to produce wort, which is just a name for unfermented beer. The most basic beginner kits available to homebrewers rely on extracts because producing wort with grain requires a lot of equipment and expertise. All of the other ingredients, hops, yeast, and adjuncts, are the same between extract and all-grain brewing. Interestingly, both professional craft breweries and home brew shops are supplied by the same malt, hop, and yeast producers so the ingredients are the same across amature and professional fields. That said, craft breweries never produce wort primarily from extract. They utilize all grain mashes to produce their wort as the quality is simply higher than extract, so most homebrewers strive to emulate the best practices of craft breweries with all-grain homebrewing being the goal of most homebrewers.
BEERMKR is an all-grain brewing system that handles the entire process, both hot side and cold side: brewing, fermentation, carbonation, and serving with just two devices, the BEERMKR brewer and the BEERTAP draft system. Beer is produced in the BEERMKR and when finished, the finished bag of completed beer is moved to the BEERTAP where it’s carbonated and served. Having just two things to keep track of is one of the main advantages of BEERMKR vs traditional homebrewing, and is especially helpful if you are brewing in a small space or if you have other stakeholders in your home who would prefer fewer things cluttering up the kitchen.
In traditional homebrewing, you will need many different pieces of equipment:
Hot Side Equipment:
- Mash tun
- Hot liquor tank (can be your brew kettle)
- Brew kettle
- Mash temperature controller
- Wort chiller
- Transfer tubing
- Bottling bucket
- Fermentation temperature control system
- Bottles, caps, capper, bottling wand
- Kegs, kegerator with CO2
Some homebrewing products combine the mash and boil into one large device that includes the pump and temperature controller for all-grain mashes. These are fantastic systems and are highly recommended if you are going the classic route. Systems like Mash & Boil, Grainfather, and Robobrew are a few examples of this. However you will still need all of the cold side equipment. Extract brewers only really need the brew kettle on the hot side and many starter kits include just some of the cold side equipment.
The first step in making beer is mashing your grains to create wort, which is just unfermented beer. In this step, grains are added to water and heated to about 150º F. This temperature activates enzymes in the grains to convert their starches into fermentable sugars. Extracts contain all of these sugars already so you just need to dilute them with water.
To set up a BEERMKR beer, just add your grains to the grain basket, fill the system with water, the press brew on the app. The system will heat up to mash temps and create wort. It will then cool down to the correct temperature to pitch yeast. BEERMKR does not get up to a boil and it uses Steam Hops to provide isomerization, and these are added at the yeast pitch step. Setting up a brew takes 5 minutes of your time, and BEERMKR handles the rest.
In traditional brewing, you will heat your water up to your mash strike temperature and add your grains. Some mash systems recirculate with a pump while others rely on large insulated coolers with custom manifolds installed to mash. Whichever way you do it, you’ll be heating a large volume of water up to temperature, mashing, then transferring to your boil kettle, which takes around 2-3 hours.
Next is boiling. Once the wort is in the kettle, it’s brought up to a boil and hops are added. This isomerizes the hops to make the beer bitter. After an hour has passed, the heat is cut off and a wort chiller is plugged into a water source like an outdoor hose. Cold water flows through the wort chiller which is submerged in the wort which transfers heat from the wort into the running water. This process takes around 30 minutes and chills your wort down to pitch temperature.
Fermentation is perhaps the most important step in the beer making process: it’s where beer gets much of its unique characteristics like the clove phenolics of Belgian beers, or the banana esters of a German hefeweizens, or the tart fruity notes of an English ale. Yeast are added, or pitched, in the wort, and as they come alive, they digest those fermentable sugars to produce alcohol.
In order to make great beer, this process needs accurate temperature control, and adherence to strict cleaning and sanitizing practices. Most homebrewers use 5 gallon carboys, and either let the season or the area of their home or garage dictate the fermentation temperature, or they use some sort of temperature control system, because without temperature control, your beer will be entirely unpredictable. It could turn out great if you happened to ferment an english ale in a 65º basement, or poorly if you tried to make a german lager in your garage in the dead of summer. Depending on the beer, fermentation can take anywhere between 1 and 4 weeks.
When it’s time to pitch yeast on your BEERMKR, you’ll get a notification on the app. You’ll remove the grains from the wort and pitch your yeast and add your hops. BEERMKR has fermentation temperature control built in, allowing it to produce consistent, excellent, beer of any style. It does this with an electric cooling system and real time temperature and pressure feedback, allowing the environment to change in real time based on the needs of the yeast. BEERMKR will see yeast begin fermenting, hold at the right temperature for primary fermentation, then as they slow down, it will gently ease the yeast up in temperature for their rest. This active yeast management both speeds up the overall fermentation time while maximizing yeast flavor profile development. Or simply put, this means you get consistently great beer, in as little as 5 days, without any of the off flavors that result from poor or no temperature control.
In traditional homebrewing, the most common way to manage fermentation is using a temperature control device such as a BrewJacket Immersion Pro, or a refrigerator with an external temperature controller. You can also find CO2 monitors like the Plaato Airlock or the Tilt Hydrometer which will give you insight into yeast activity, however it will be up to you to actively manage this process and to know what you are asking your yeast to produce from a style perspective.
CLEANING AND SANITIATION
BEERMKR is a closed system and the first step in the process is to get the entire system up to pasteurization temperatures. This kills any stray bacteria and ensures your batch of beer turns out defect free. The beer never leaves the BeerBag which keeps it safe throughout the entire process. This also means you don’t have to sanitize anything! When your batch is done and the beer is in the BEERTAP, just toss your BrewTub and valves in the dishwasher.
In traditional homebrewing, most of your time will be spent cleaning and sanitizing fermenters, transfer lines, bottles, kegs, kettles, bottle caps, mash tuns, etc. Because your wort/beer gets transferred from vessel to vessel, each receiving vessel needs to be perfectly clean and sanitized to prevent old tastes or bacteria from infecting your batch.
When your BEERMKR beer is done, you will get a notification on the app to unplug the BeerBag and move it to the BEERTAP. Plug in the BEERTAP valves, close the BEERTAP, and screw the included CO2 cartridge. Your beer will carbonate and be ready to drink in the next 24 hours!
If you are brewing the traditional way, getting your beer out of your fermenter and into bottles or kegs requires a number of steps. First is to clean and sanitize your receiving vessels, tubing, bottling wand, bottle caps, etc. If you are refermenting in bottles, you will transfer your beer into a bottling bucket where you’ll mix it with some corn sugar before filling your bottles. This allows the yeast to eat that added sugar and produce CO2 so your beer is fizzy. If you are force carbonating your beer, you will transfer your beer from your fermenter into a cleaned and sanitized keg where you’ll hook up your CO2 tank and regulator and charge it with gas for a few days. This will force the CO2 into the beer, producing a carbonated beer.
Brewing with a BEERMKR will cost $579. This includes the BEERMKR, the BEERTAP, as well as a MKRKIT of your choice. Getting a starter kit for traditional homebrewing will cost around $100, will be for extract only, and will not have any form of fermentation temperature control. All-grain systems start around $200 and go up to many thousands of dollars. Fermentation temperature control systems start around $50 to $100 for a temperature controller and a used refrigerator all the way up to the thousands for a glycol chiller system. Draft systems start at $130 for a 1-gallon UKeg or $500 for an entry level kegerator.
When comparing what you get with a BEERMKR to what it will cost to cobble that equipment together for traditional homebrewing, only to then spend hours cleaning, sanitizing, and running the risk of infections, BEERMKR is the clear winner.