The craft beer revolution is upon us and six Simon Fraser University students are trying to capitalize on it by bring it home.
The team of engineering and business students – Ryan Lymburner, Kavi Sekhon, Derek Muxworthy, Jordan Sciberras, Karan S. Thakur and Jeremy Thompson – have been toiling away since January inventing an automated machine that can serve up a 12-pack of fresh craft brew without the mess and fuss that traditionally comes with brewing at home.
They call it Brewstr.
“Essentially, it’s an automated home brewing system for craft beer enthusiasts,” said Lymburner. “I got into brewing at home and found it very tedious because of the number of things you need to monitor. It’s an overload of information and I thought there has to be a better way to do this.”
So Lymburner pitched the project through the university’s entrepreneurship program, assembled the team and secured $7,000 in funding to work on a prototype for eight months.
Halfway in, the team says their machine – in its third iteration – is consistently brewing beer with increased levels of automation.
One day, they hope a self-contained, microwave-sized consumer model will be sitting in people’s kitchens as Canada’s first automated home brewing machine.
While some hardcore home brewers may scoff at the idea of a machine doing all the work, the Brewstr team believes a market exists for beer lovers who would like to create their own beer if not for the equipment, technique and hardship required to actually do it.
If their product works as intended, there won’t be any need to slave over a stove for hours, strain and transfer boiling liquids into fermenters and risk contamination.
One would simply choose their ingredients, turn the machine on and let it do the rest (though there is a cell phone app that lets people check in on the progress in real-time).
“Where we come in is we’re going to take all those different steps and all that different equipment – the pots, the pans, the strainers, the fermenter, and everything – and we’re going to compact that all into one package so people don’t have to worry about all the different pieces of equipment and the different bits of knowledge,” explained Thompson. “We still want to offer some amount of customization and the ability to craft your own ingredients, but I guess what we’re doing is shifting the experience away from dealing with the equipment to crafting these different flavours and making the experience about the beer itself.”
Thakur said interest from program directors and potential investors and consumers has been intense since the team went public with their project, but that pressure is helping motivate the team.
They say they’re trying to nail down “the last few steps” and hope to demonstrate a final, polished prototype within the next four months.