By Ezra Johnson-Greenough For the Oregon Beer Growler
GrowlerWerks uKeg and uPint Portland-based GrowlerWerks made a big splash in the beer scene by raising more than $1.5 million on Kickstarter, which was above and beyond the $75,000 goal. Perhaps the classiest-looking growler on the market, uKeg is all brushed steel and copper with a shapely handle and built-in pressure-adjusting CO2 cap and faucet. At the bottom of the vessel is a gauge that monitors how much gas is left so you know when to replace the cartridge. It’s also easy to operate: simply turn the cap clockwise to increase the pressure.
GrowlerWerks recently launched two new products: a slick black chrome version of its uKeg in both 64- and 128-ounce sizes. And then there’s the uPint — a lightweight, double-wall vacuum-insulated cup that’s great for use at home or outdoors. It even has a clear plastic lid that keeps beer from spilling and is easily opened for sipping.
SYNEK SYNEK’S product is one in a long line of countertop home draft beer solutions for those who cannot afford or do not want to dedicate the space and time to a full-size kegerator. And this company’s dispenser is one of the more innovative attempts. A streamlined appearance is defined by polished steel with minimal parts, simple buttons and an LED screen. The company created its own Mylar pressure-resistant bag that can be filled by breweries using a simple free connector. However, if you don’t like that extra step, there is a growler adapter as well as other accessories such as a homebrew kit, a CO2 tank filling kit and Skyns to personalize the exterior of the dispenser. Dispenser: $399 synek.beer
Growler Chill Another one of the numerous draft beer devices currently on the market, Growler Chill separates itself by providing three different tap handles in one small countertop box. Billed as a “smart home appliance,” you simply replace the normal growler lid with Growler Chill’s “Magic Top Cap” and insert it into the gadget’s CO2 feature to purge the oxygen. It can be loaded with 64-ounce vessels or 32-ounce growlettes and has a built-in pressure monitor for CO2 dispensation. There’s even an app that allows you to remotely control the temperature and keep track of how much beer is left.
Sobro — A Cooler Coffee Table The makers of this Indiegogo fundraising sensation figured out a way to turn your home or office coffee table into a work and play station with charging ports, built-in Bluetooth speakers, touch controls and — best of all — a refrigerator drawer to keep your beer (or lesser beverages) cold. It looks like an early version of an oversized iPod with its minimalist white case and tempered glass top. In addition to two USB plugins and two standard power outlets, Sobro has LED lighting and can connect to your TV. Since you never have to leave your couch for a beer after buying this, it’s one of the coolest home-furniture-turned-beer-gadget gift ideas ever.
Hopsy The SUB You may have heard of Hopsy, the web-based company that delivers fresh beer to your door via a subscription-meets-Netflix type of system. The business has also teamed up with Krups, perhaps best known for its coffeemakers, to develop a countertop draft gadget called The SUB. Two liters of beer are delivered via a container called a TORP, which is loaded into The SUB where it stays fresh for 15 days after you tap it. The SUB: $49-179 TORP: Starts at $17.99 sf.hopsy.beer/the-sub#offer
HOPii Billed as your personal microbrewery, HOPii joins the growing number of gadgets that can make small batches of beer on your countertop like the best-selling PicoBrew. What makes HOPii unique is that it also serves the homebrew from the same box you create it in. Time will tell if this Kickstarter project is as functional as more established products, but it does look easier to use and features a classier appearance for displaying in your kitchen. There are several Kickstarter backer packages that include discounts and early shipping.
GrowlTap If all of the high-tech and often costly solutions to creating a portable draft-style beer system are too overwhelming, then GrowlTap is for you. Advanced growlers made by GrowlerWerks and DrinkTanks feature methods to keep beer carbonated along with add-ons to pour directly from the vessels. GrowlTap is basically that attachment and you can use it on most 32- and 64-ounce glass growlers that usually cost about ten bucks (and most beer geeks have dozens in their homes and cars). The device is also affordable.
Tilt — Hydrometer and Thermometer This one is strictly for the DIY homebrewers interested in ways to more accurately and easily calculate their beers’ gravity and fermentation temperature. Forget about classic hydrometers that can easily fall and break and must be temperature calculated. Tilt is a wireless hydrometer that instantly reads gravity and temperature on a compatible Apple or Android device. You can also save the date to the cloud so that you can monitor fermentation without opening the vessel, exposing the batch to possible contaminants. To use Tilt, sanitize the gadget, download the app and drop it into your vessel. It’s already calibrated and comes with a pre-installed battery.
Kirin Frozen Beer Slushie Maker Whoever said it’s not cool to play with your beer? Certainly not Japanese beer maker Kirin who created this awesome countertop machine that turns beer into a Slurpee-like refreshment with adult ingredients. Basically, this machine tops your regular pint with a soft serve whipped cream-like foam. It not only keeps the beer cooler for much longer; the mouthfeel and appearance are also altered. Kirin’s product marries two Japanese obsessions: gadgetry and ice-cold beer. While not as readily available stateside as it is in Japan, this little toy is easy to find online with some sellers listing it on Amazon for less than $50.
Kinkajou Bottle Cutter Kinkajou Bottle Cutter is the perfect gift for the artsy person in your life. This gadget makes it easy to cleanly slice a glass beer bottle in half without breaking it or leaving cracked edges. All you have to do is sand off the sliced vessel after the Kinkajou has done its job. Then, let your creative side go wild: use those bottles as glassware, candle holders, plant vases or anything else you can think of.