South Australian brewery Coopers will release its BrewArt system in Australia in mid-July with a version expected to hit the United States market before the end of the year.
The brewing system, which has been likened to a Nespresso coffee machine, can be controlled from a smartphone app, which doubles as a stock inventory and ordering point for ingredients.
It is being aimed at tech-savvy, time-poor beer lovers who like the idea of brewing at home but see it as time consuming, messy and something that takes up a lot of space.
BrewArt has two components: the BeerDroid, for brewing 10-litres of beer; and BrewFlo, for storing, chilling and dispensing the beer from 5-litre kegs.
The ingredient packs, known as BrewPrints, are also made by Coopers and can be ordered to specific recipes such as American Pale Ale, European Pilsner or customised to make more than 3,000 different beers.
Brews take a similar amount of time as traditional home brews —5-15 days in fermentation mode with a keg, or bottle fermentation and natural carbonation time of two weeks. Notifications are sent along the way to update users on the progress of their brew.
Scott Harris, Coopers Brewing Products’ marketing manager, has been working on the system for eight years.
“It’s Wi-Fi connected so you can actually control this whole thing from your phone. Another advantage of it being Wi-Fi connected is we can do firmware upgrades to upgrade the algorithms or anything else that people have asked for to be changed,” Harris said.
“The other cool thing about that is if people ring us up and say ‘I did a brew and it just turned out awful’, then with their permission we can log in and check what happened.”
The BeerDroid and the BeerFlo have LCD controls and will be available for A$799 and A$699 (US$590 and US$517) from July 18. BrewPrints range from A$28-44 (US$21-33) to make 10 litres.
“Most of this product is available only online and we have deliberately done it that way because the sort of people we are trying to approach are the people who want to order things online and have it delivered in two days,” Harris said.
“We will set up different distribution centres in each country we go to—it’s easier for us in America as our next step because we already own a company there.”
Harris said the refrigerated BeerFlo system did not require CO2 gas for carbonation, meaning the beer had an extended shelf life.
“What we wanted to come up with was a kegging system and a dispenser you would be quite happy to have on your bench next to your coffee machine,” he said.
Established in Adelaide in 1862, Coopers is Australia’s largest home-owned brewery, and accounts for around 5% of the nation’s commercial beer market.
It has been making home brewing products since the 1970s and has grown to become the world’s biggest manufacturer and exporter of brewing extracts.
Harris said market research found had identified a suitable market for hi-tech home-brewing products: “We didn’t bring it out for current home brewers, although we knew there would be some advantage for current home brewers,” he said. “This is really about how we get those other people who say they like the idea of brewing but just don’t do it.”
After looking at the market, Coopers found that people were drinking less but they were also drinking better, with some coming to understand beer more like they would understand wine.
“We’re already the world leader in this sort of field so we thought if we don’t do it someone else will. We need to make sure that we keep leading and are not just hitting one demographic but also the other ones that should be in there—everyone from the guys that want to make the real basic brew to the ones who want to aspire to using BrewArt.”