Mike and I are avid homebrewers. While there is an abundance of amazing craft beer lining the shelves of almost everywhere beer is sold nothing quite compares to having a beer that was handcrafted with love in your own basement. It is said that the best tasting food is the food prepared yourself and the same can be said of beer. After waiting a month from beginning to end and that first bottle exceeds expectations you might be the only advocate for the taste of your beer, but for you it is divine.
I have been limited in scope to brewing only ales in my homebrew career. I five gallon fermenter takes up a lot of space and when creating lager you need to have strict temperature controls to let lager yeasts thrive and convert sugars to alcohol. Ideally you want to slowly cool the fermenting beer degree by degree over a series of days to really get an authentic lager body and flavor.
The problem is getting adequate temperature controls for something that size. You might think a kegerator sized mini-fridge might be adequate for the task but often times with the air trap you just can’t quite squeeze in your fermenter like you would like. Plus most inexpensive conventional refrigerators just aren’t going to allow you to control the temperature down to the degree. The best solution is to buy a cheap second refrigerator and attempt to just keep your beer at a lager friendly temperature. While workable this is not the ideal solution.
Enter the BrewJacker Immersion tool to solve this problem. Aaron Walls out of Ithaca, NY is attempting to KickStarter his prototype into production. This tool solves the lager problem by inverting the solution. Rather than placing your fermenter in a refrigerator why not place a cooling element in the beer itself.
This tool is capable to bring the temperature of a beer down to 35°F and keep it there for months without the need for a heavy refrigeration. It works by using a patent pending technology to pull heat from a beer via a tightly controlled cooling rod that is inserted into the beer. A small heat sink and control unit is affixed to the cooling rod that fits on top of the fermentation carboy. Once the unit is plugged into the wall you can have an ideal environment for your lager yeasts in your basement, closet, or room corner in your house.
The KickStart page talks about how this revolutionary home-brewing tool might be best applied to lager beers.
For example, if you are brewing a lager that requires primary fermentation at 52º F, set the device to 52º F and it will maintain that temperature for as long as it is powered on. Three weeks later when primary fermentation is complete and you need to do a diacetyl rest, increase the temperature to 65º F and Immersion will cut off power to the cooling unit and allow the ambient temperature of your house to increase the temperature of the beer. Once the temperature reaches 65º F, Immersion will power back on automatically, meticulously maintaining the set temp of 65º F. When the rest is complete and you need to lager condition the beer, simply select the temperature to cold crash, perhaps 35º F, and Immersion will cycle until the set temperature is achieved. For as long as it is plugged in, Immersion will maintain that temperature.
Aaron is asking solely for $45,000 to make his dream a reality and with 58 days to go he only has raised $20,286. (Though that number is up from the last time I looked at the page.) Such a tool is going to be expensive but for a $299 backing you get a full launch unit which is expected to ship in October of this year.
A few hundred bucks is roughly what you might pay to buy a refrigerator to use for lagers in the first place.
If you are a home brewer that is interested in making lagers but foiled by a lack of adequate control over temperature you should consider backing this project. KickStarter has its warts but I was thoroughly impressed by the success and quality of the DrinkTanks growlers that I received after backing them. This looks like a product that fits a serious pain point of home-brewing.
Consider backing this project and if you do make sure to share your first lager with us!