Back in the dark days before the U.S. had 7,000-plus breweries, homebrewing was often the only way for enthusiasts to sample and experiment with niche styles. In our current beer glut, when even the average liquor store stocks everything from extra-hazy New England IPAs to wine barrel-aged sour ales, its appeal lies more in the cathartic satisfaction of creating something from scratch. In the same way that Millennials have latched onto artisan bread-baking (even though it’s now easier to pick up a crusty sourdough than ever before), homebrewing has become as much about the process as the product. Working with your hands forces you to slow down, put away your phone, and give your slow-burning anxiety a rest.
So what does it mean to take virtually all of the work out of homebrewing? Last week, the LG HomeBrew made its official debut at CES 2019, the monster tech innovation trade show in Las Vegas. Meant to rest comfortably on your kitchen countertop, the device uses prefabricated single-use capsules filled with yeast, malt, hop oil, and flavoring to bring freshly brewed beer to your glass with a modicum of effort. Think of it as the Nespresso machine of homebrew.
“Homebrewing is growing at an explosive rate and LG is making it simple for those curious about the process to jump right in without the hassle,” says Taryn Brucia, Director of PR for LG Electronics USA. “With just the touch of a button, you can enjoy fresh craft beer made at home in as little as two weeks.”
We haven’t gotten our paws on one yet, but it supposedly really is that easy. The whole system sterilizes itself and a fermentation algorithm optimizes your beer. There’s even a nifty app for iOS and Android so you can check on your IPA’s progress from your smartphone while doing absolutely nothing.
The LG HomeBrew isn’t the first attempt at bringing brewing to the untrained masses. The BrewArt BeerDroid can make 10 liters of dozens of styles of beer—all for a cool $799. Meanwhile, the Brewie set-up requires a smidge more effort, but allows for more customization. Finally, the PicoBrew offers more than 100 biodegradable “PicoPaks” of grains, hops, and yeast designed to let you replicate popular brewery recipes at home.
Admittedly, it’s hard to see the point of all this. Investing in an LG HomeBrew is never going to be the economically sound choice and the automated system lacks the charm (and, let’s be real, bragging rights) of true DIY brews. Still, beer at the push of a button is a pretty tempting thought and the unfussy system may be enough to hook rookie homebrewers.