Product reviews are notoriously hard to write. On the one hand, for it to be a review and not an advertisement it actually needs to look critically at the beer or product being reviewed. On the other, a critical approach risks the reviewers subjective preferences influencing the review unfairly.
Such would have been the case when I was sent a review unit of the then-new BrewArt BeerDroid and BrewFlo homebrew appliances.
I don’t have the time to invest in the hobby of homebrewing – even when the drudgery is removed by the ‘Nespresso of homebrewing’. As a beer lover I also drink enough just trying to keep up with the ever-increasing range of beers and breweries available so that having an extra 10 litres of beer in the fridge to get through actually feels like a chore more than a blessing.
Consequently, when I tried the unit, I found it an attractive but flawed concept. Both the BeerDroid, which is the fully automated personal brewing system, and the BrewFlo – the draught beer appliance – were easy to use and produced acceptable kit beer results, I just didn’t find myself wanting to use them – or recommend them – after the initial trial.
Then my father-in-law, Gordon, came over tried a beer and this review completely changed. He loved the idea of tap beer at home and so I loaned him the unit to see what he made of it. A year – and 28 brews later – the BeerDroid and BrewFlo are possibly the best gifts I have given.
While the niggles that I found were there for him as well, they were overwhelmed by the pleasure he gets from trialing a wide variety of beers that he has made, and serving it to his friends on tap.
While the ingredient kits – or BrewPrints – contain all you need to brew a beer, individual ingredients can obtained so that recipes can be tinkered with and adapted, allowing for a certain amount of creativity, the selection of BrewPrints is wide enough that the beer selection is plentiful and around the $3.40 a litre mark.
At $799 the BeerDroid is almost seven times more expensive than the basic Coopers DIY kit, but it does allow for complete brewing temperature control, is incredibly easy to sanitise and keep clean and is wifi enabled with an app to allow for remote usage and complete control over the brewing process.
That said, the refrigeration unit on the review unit is quite noisy in keeping the brewing temperature down. While the unit is designed to be attractive enough to sit on a kitchen counter next to a coffee machine, it is far too noisy to occupy such a prime position.
Bottling is an option from the system, but the real attraction is the added BrewFlo home draught system. This system keeps the beer cooled to your preferred serving temperature and dispenses through the tap for draught beer at home. However it also adds $699 for the unit and $129 for the kegging kit and, like the BeerDroid, can be too noisy for the living areas of the house.
Where the Coopers eco-system really comes into its own is the after sales support and service. The complete system has very helpful How To videos to guide you through all aspects of brewing, bottling and kegging, and if you get into any strife or have questions the online support cannot be faulted. My father-in-law is on first name terms with the service team at Coopers, including Iain Cooper, son of Dr Tim Cooper, who has done stints in the Technical Support section.
This support carries through to after-sales service. As a newly developed and purpose-built product, a few of the initial production units have had some issues and Coopers support has been exemplary. Gordon’s experience – and a scan of reviews on online discussion boards – shows the service to be exemplary.
It won’t see all-grain brewers throwing their Grainfathers out, or the cents-a-bottle kit brewers trading up, it’s a fun system and one that makes an ideal – if expensive – gift for someone with an interest in beer.
Available through Harvey Norman.