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Beer Machines

Beer Machines are home brewing kits or machines that brew and dispense home made beer from the same unit. Some commercial versions are very simple to operate, but the resulting beer is of questionable quality and small quantity. Other versions have been made that brew five to ten gallons, and these beer machines produce beer on a much more reasonable scale of quality and quantity, although such machines rarely are capable of all grain brewing, or even of partial grain brewing.

COMMON BEER MACHINES

The two most common beer machines on the home brewing equipment market are reviewed along side a few other traditional DIY brewing systems including a RIMS and HERMS system.

Beer MachinesSource: HomeBrewing.com

The product know as the Beer Machine (as seen in Popular Mechanics magazine) is a small home brewing kit that utilizes malt extract based kits to make beer without heating the wort (just add water!). Brewing beer with the Beer Machine is a one step process from start to finish, which claims to produce beer in only seven to ten days. This Beer Machine comes in two varieties and the beer it produces is naturally carbonated – although a kit can be added to it to provide CO2 gas for pushing the beer out. Most reviews of this product rate the beer produced by it from OK to terrible. Not a great track record for a product that costs around $100. But it does have a lot of add-on kits that modify the Beer Machine’s functionality, such as a CO2 kit, bottling kit (it uses plastic bottles), and a variety of beer mixes to brew in it.

Mr. Beer is a beer brewing kit that has more favorable reviews. Mr. Beer kits come with a two-gallon fermenter and enough ingredients to make at least two gallons of beer. The two-gallon Mr. Beer fermenter has a built in airlock and dispensing spigot. The fermenter is disposable, and each kit comes with a malt extract based mix, yeast, and a one-step sanitizing cleanser. Mr. Beer sells from around $40 to $175 for a deluxe kit, making it a simpler option with better reviews for the beer it produces, overall.

To compare and contrast these two units, the Beer Machine seems to have more accessories, while Mr. Beer has better mixes. It may be a good option to use Mr. Beer mixes and yeast when operating the Beer Machine. Although you may be able to get a starter home brew kit from your local brew shop for just a little more than the Beer Machine, and be able to make five gallons on home brew. All in all, these beer machines are really just for people getting started in home brewing who are unwilling to spend more than $100 and are unfamiliar with the beer brewing process.

Another sort of beer making machine that has come forth in recent years is the all in one DIY beer factory. This is essentially a small-scale home version of what happens in factory brewing – utilizing the materials at hand, such as sanke kegs, coolers, and modified beer keg kettles. These units are the next step for home brewers who have been lugging around five gallon brew pots from kitchen to garage. Most of these units utilize propane burners and the law of gravity to do most of the work for you. Some even have Arduino micro controllers that turn heat on and off, open valves, and will automatically brew the beer once loaded with all of the ingredients.

RIMS (Re-circulating, Infusing, Mashing System) is one style of beer making machine that does not sidestep the processes of making real beer. These machines make all grain brewing a lot easier although you will not find one commercially available – these units are custom made.

HERMS (Hat Exchanged Re-circulating Mash System) takes the RIMS a few steps farther. This machine re-circulates wort from the mash tun through a heating unit, and the heated wort is then directed back into the mash tun. In this way, the temperature of the mash is controlled exactly because the wort is heated before it is returned to the mash. You can see an example of this beer machine here: http://www.philrobins.org.uk

There are always new and better ways to make beer and make making beer easier and more efficient.

Related Articles:
Different Brewing Styles - Article describing the different beer brewing styles including the Malt Extract method, Partial Grain method and All Grain Method.
Building a Keggle: A Keg Conversion Project - A keggle project covering a full keg conversion into a fully functional (keggle) brew kettle/ mashing vessel. Learn how to make your own keggle for homebrewing beer.
Building Your Own Home Brewery: Is it worth the cost? - Is it Worth Building Your Own Home Brewery? Get the facts from the HomeBrewing.com staff and learn why investing in your home brewing equipment can better your home brewing experience.

Thinking about upgrading your home brewery? Browse our Professional Home Brew Systems.

Published: April 18, 2011

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