Exobrew is latest in a long line of companies to try and make homebrew beer as compact and beginner friendly as possible. Everyone from startups like Picobrew and Brewie, to major corporations like LG and Whirlpool have taken a stab at an all-in-one brewing systems with varying amounts of success (or lack there of). On its surface, the Exobrew doesn't seem to stray too far from those who have come before it, other than the eye-catching keg in a lovely shade of orange. The company is demoing the device at CES 2024 in Las Vegas this week, and I had a chance to get a preview at CES Unveiled on Sunday evening.
That keg is the heart of the system; it handles heating, cooling, fermentation and serving. During the actual brewing process it pumps hot water out the top and circulates it over the grains for the mash. When the time comes for the boil, water is redirected to avoid over extraction. Above the grain hopper is a rotating dispenser for hop additions that drops them (in adorable little muslin bags) straight into the keg.
The temperature controlled keg then cools things off for your yeast addition and you pop on the the fermentation lid. The whole process takes about four hours start to finish and requires basically no human intervention. The Exobrew is controlled entirely through an app and it downloads recipes from the cloud. Since its targeting inexperienced home brewers, there's a lot of focus on kits that come with all the ingredients pre-parsed, crushed and ready to go. But you can design your own recipes, or use recipes from other users. Unfortunately that privilege will be locked behind a $9 a month (or $90 a year) subscription.
The fact that everything from the mash, to the boil, to fermentation, to serving happens from a single vessel, with no need for refrigeration definitely sets the Exobrew apart from a lot of other systems (it's even self cleaning). But it also comes with its own set of challenges. However, it has features to avoid some of the more common beermaking pitfalls that produce off flavors: a clever system for keeping dimethyl sulfide from dripping back into your brew; a filter in the top of the keg helps clear out some sediment; and the interior of the keg is conical, with a small valve at the bottom to remove the trub (another form of sediment.)
It's clear that a lot of thought went into the design of the Exobrew. But it still has some tough hills to climb. For one, it's relatively large. While it will technically fit on a counter, it's not something anyone will want to leave out in the kitchen all the time, no matter how pretty that orange keg is. It also doesn't come cheap. $879 is hefty investment for a beginner, especially when you could probably make your first batch of homebrew with a $10 bucket from the hardware store and what you already have in your kitchen. And, while the Exobrew definitely makes things convenient — you can literally start it and walk away for four hours — it might suck some of the fun out of it for experienced brewers.
But, if you just want to enjoy the freshest beer you possibly can, have little interest in getting your hands dirty and have some money to burn, pre-orders for the Exobrew are open now. The company is asking for a down payment of $165, with the rest due when manufacturing commences. Production units are expected to ship sometime in the first quarter of the year.
We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.