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Brewbarrel – the new way of home brewing

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Brewbarrel – the new way of home brewing

November 22
11:46 2014
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New York/Munich, June 17, 2014.Braufässchen
The three Co-founders of Braufässchen (engl. Brewbarrel) were unsatisfied with the lack of variety in beer and the overall beer experience. Therefore they decided in 2012 to create a new way of home brewing and with it they created a completely new way of enjoying and experiencing beer.

A passion for variety
In the spring of 2012, the three Co-founders once again found themselves standing in front of the beer shelves of their local supermarket without any idea which beer to choose. Not because of the large selection on display, but due to the fact that they had already tried everything and every beer somehow tasted the same. Co-founder and CEO Dominik Guber recalls that they asked themselves: “Why is there so little choice? Is it too much to expect a bit of variety? To be able to find the perfect beer for an amazing meal or for a special night with friends?”

The Brewbarrel approach
Because they love doing things on their own, they decided to try brewing their own beer. Co-founder and CPO Wolfgang Westermeier remembers: “The internet offered many recipes and home brewing kits, so we didn’t think it would be too difficult. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as simple as we had originally thought. We messed up our kitchens with malty equipment and drove our loved ones crazy with undrinkable beer.” Many of the recipes on the internet don’t produce good results. Also most of the home brewing kits available don’t work or are too complicated.

So the three Co-founders decided to go back to the drawing board. They all studied in different fields of the natural sciences on the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The TUM is home to one of the oldest and most famous departments of brewery sciences. So the founders already had a wide base and a network of experts by hand. They calculated, measured and experimented. Wolfgang Westermeier remembers: “We wanted to develop a system to brew beer simply, quickly and without any fuss.” It soon became clear that they would have to rethink and reinvent the process of home brewing to reach their goal. The first objective was to minimize the cleaning effort. As hygiene is a necessary precondition for any brewing success, cleaning buckets, washing up bottles and sterilizing all equipment usually is a big part of the home brewing process. Brewbarrels solution is to brew directly in a keg. This simple but brilliant twist meant no more bottling, ultimately allowing to tap the beer directly from the keg.

But their euphoria quickly suffered a setback –the beer had no carbon dioxide. Even if it was obvious that a pressure control valve would solve the problem, developing it turned into a difficult challenge. Co-founder and COO Ping Lu: “This obstacle seemed insurmountable, and brought us to the brink of failure. It was hard to come up with the right pressure and especially the right valve to maintain suitable pressure during fermentation.” But after working tirelessly over countless weeks, they managed to produce a prototype. CEO Dominik Guber: “We constructed the prototype to regulate the right level of naturally arising carbon dioxide in the beer while also preventing overpressure within the keg.” During the fermentation of sugar into alcohol, a good deal of CO2 is naturally produced by the yeast. Some of this CO2 needed to be kept within the keg to produce a fresh and sparkling beer. What was left needed to be released? With the new valve the brewing process could run smoothly inside the keg.

After six months of hard work, the first batch of beer brewed with the Brewbarrel concept was ready to be tasted. CPO Wolfgang Westermeier recalls: “We tapped the keg, tasted it, and it was simply fantastic! We saw the excitement in each other’s eyes. We had done it, and it tasted delicious!”

Brewbarrel variety
After all these innovations in the brewing process, the real tricky bit was yet to come. Dominik Guber: “We didn’t want just any old beer. We wanted the perfect beer for every occasion. We came up with lots of recipes; we tried many different hops, yeasts and malts. Only the best and most natural ingredients were good enough for our home-brewed beer.” A cooperation with two master brewers at the Technical University of Munich allowed them find perfect blends. While they were still working out the recipes, more and more friends expressed an interest in using Brewbarrel to brew at home themselves. Ping Lu recalls: “In the beginning nobody could believe that brewing could be so quick and easy and that home brewed beer could taste so delicious with the Brewbarrel concept. In the end, all of our friends were truly excited about the home-brewed beer!” Over the following months, friends descended upon them with their flavor requests. Therefore the Brewbarrel was improved with further recipes, different types of beer and various flavors.

Screw it, just brew it!
More and more people wanted to test out Brewbarrel, and slowly but surely, the production could no longer be managed out of the kitchen. There simply wasn’t enough space. Dominik Guber recalls: “We received first requests from people we didn’t know personally, and the Brewbarrel concept started gaining speed on its own. So we started searching for a more suitable way to share Brewbarrel – not only with our friends, but also with everyone who has a passion for beer.” Therefore they decided to sail off into the unknown and establish their own little company. The dream of a home brewing revolution and the perfect beer for everyone was close enough to grasp. Wolfgang Westermeier can still recall all details of this time: “Our path through this founding period entailed many ups and downs. We found a space for our first office and began working on a website and the Brewbarrel design. At the same time, we had to order new raw materials and began producing the first ingredients for Brewbarrel on a larger so far unknown scale. It was an amazing and very exciting point in time for us.”

Also Ping Lu is still excited by this memory’s: “We had lots of work to do – and many evenings we came close to sleeping in our office. During this period, deep bonds were formed between us, anchoring Brewbarrel even more profoundly in our hearts.” Finally, they received a reward. Brewbarrel were voted “Invention of the Year” by a major TV channel in Germany. From that moment on, the Brewbarrel concept really kicked in – and the home brewing revolution was definitely on its way. By 2013, they hoped that the work would take on a bit of routine. But through a network of proud home brewers, the idea spread so fast that the team could hardly cope with the growing demand. Home brewing really started to be commonplace and everyone wanted to become a master brewer. You can be sure that this is not the end of the Brewbarrel story. So stay tuned and see what’s coming up this year…

About the company:
Brewbarrel was initially launched as “Braufässchen” in Germany in June 2012. Soon after the launch, it was featured on many TV channels all over Germany and was voted “Best Invention of 2012” by one of the biggest German TV channels (Pro7, Galileo). After this, sales increased exponentially – and have continued up to the present day. This allowed the company, “Customized Drinks GmbH”, to grow to a core team of seven. During peak phases, ten to twelve employees were even involved in the Brewbarrel production. In June 2014, the company moved to a bigger, state-of-the-art production facility in the heart of Munich. Also in June, a fully-owned subsidiary Brewbarrel Inc. was established in Delaware and an office was opened in New York.

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