The brewing of beer is a technology as old as civilization itself. Since its inception, mankind has steered its innovative mind toward the betterment of this process, as well as making beer more pleasurable to drink.
Many inventions have come down the line, from the beer tap to the beer hat, yet the process of brewing beer (and drinking it) has remained unchanged. The popularity of craft beer is also spawning new ideas to make beer more interesting.
If you thought beer-tech innovation has reached its zenith, here are five recent examples that might change your mind.
Cold beer = charged phone
5. Cold beer cell phone charger
The Epiphany onE Puck is a gadget developed by a group of "technologists and business professionals" looking to solve that age-old problem of how to charge a cell phone with a cold beer.
It works by way of a Stirling engine, which is powered using heat disparities, and has two sides: one for hot and one for cold. It works independently and does not need to be plugged into a source of electricity to work. Stirling engines are nothing new; they were invented by Robert Stirling in 1816. What makes this one interesting is that it's a technology that combines pleasure with a modern practical effect. It is compatible with iPhones, Androids, all iPods, and any USB-charged electronic device drawing 1 amp or less. Now that is one fierce beer coaster.
The "Hop Gun"
Troegs Brewing Company
4. The Hop Gun
This rocket-ship-looking contraption from the Tröegs Brewing Co. in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is called the Hop Gun. How does it work? The device is loaded down with hops pellets and then purged with carbon dioxide. Inside, the double-helix design creates an inner burst of turbulence that dissolves the pellets as the beer circulates through the vessel. This device will be used in conjunction with the company's HopsCyclone technology.
3. The Drink Tank Growler
If the new 64-ounce growler law in Florida goes through, then maybe you'd think about buying one of these bad boys. It's not a typical growler -- this one has a tap. The growler sold by Cool Material keeps beer cool with lightweight, double-walled stainless steel. It costs $65, but tack on an additionial $30 for the keg tap lid. It also comes with a convenient handle so you don't look ridiculous cradling your growler like a baby.
Brewpi: the marriage between brewing and electronics hobbyists.
Brewpi is a fermentation controller and a modification of the Raspberry Pi computer, a do-it-yourself programmable computer that is about the size of a credit card. The sky's the limit when it comes to applications for this little computer, but someone up and modified one to fit into his brewing scheme (good job). The step-by-step guide is available online, complete with source code if you feel so inclined to exercise your aptitude for electronics. The computer costs $25, but more money may be needed for additional components.
Once fully assembled, it can control beer temperature to within 0.1 degrees, can log temperature with a nice graph, and is fully configurable from a web interface.
The Dogfish Head Randall Jr.
1. The Randall Jr.
A beer Randall is an invention credited to the Dogfish Head brewery. The Randall Jr. is an organoleptic (meaning it relates to properties of food that stimulate the senses) hop transducer module containing a chamber filter that can be connected to a beer tap and filled with flavor-enhancing ingredients. Most Randalls come with two chambers, but this Randall has only one.
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It holds one pint of beer, has a twist-off top, and consists of double-walled, BPA-free plastic. Just fill with beer, fruit, spices, hops, etc., let chill, then pour. An inexpensive and practical device, it costs only $20.