HOPii Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET

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Chris Monroe/CNET

A new automatic beer brewer called the HOPii wants to claim the middle ground between beer brewing machines like the PicoBrew and a simple at-home tap such as the Fizzics. And home brewers seem ready for the HOPii’s easy approach to brewing: The product has raised more than $371,000 from 362 backers on Kickstarter, leaping over its initial crowdfunding goal of $50,000.

With the push of a button, the HOPii whips up a batch of fresh brew with a process that thankfully doesn’t involve anything gross, like making beer from concentrate. The HOPii’s creators take care of the first two steps of beer brewing (the mash and the boil), which creates unfermented beer called wort. The company will send you an ingredient pack with a big bottle of wort, a packet of yeast and any extras you need to finish the recipe. Then, you put everything in place and hit start, and the HOPii takes care of the rest. You’ll even be able pour the beer from the HOPii’s built-in tap when the beer is finished.

The HOPii allows you to drink freshly made beer while getting around the strict guidelines for shipping alcoholic liquid from state to state (the fermentation step is what makes wort alcoholic). In theory, this would let you try beers from brewers that don’t distribute to your area. However, the HOPii will begin with an offering of only 12 recipes — all made by the HOPii team. Company reps say they’re working on adding partnerships with other breweries.

Will it work?

The HOPii unit is temperature-controlled and recognizes the type of beer you’re brewing from the bottle of wort. Supposedly, it creates the ideal fermentation conditions for that type of beer, and it can clean and sanitize itself when you’re done brewing.

My main concern with the HOPii’s approach is that it goes against the common brewing practice of introducing your yeast to your wort as soon as possible. The sugars in wort are purposely primed to react with yeast, so wort can easily get infected if something in the air starts reacting with those sugars first. With the HOPii, the volatile wort is shipped and could be in the container for weeks before you put it into the machine and start fermenting.

A rep from HOPii reassured me that they’ve worked with multiple third-party labs on quality control. The wort containers are airtight and block out light as well, and they have a shelf life of up to a month.

Outlook

You can preorder the HOPii on Kickstarter now for a discount. The first machines are scheduled to ship worldwide in the summer of 2018. Once the final product is ready, the HOPii will be available on Amazon and will ship in time for the 2018 holidays. The retail price will be a hefty $600, which converts to approximately £450 and AU$750. Ingredient packs will be $20 to $30 a piece (£15/£20 and AU$25/AU$40) and will produce 3 liters of beer. That measures out to about eight glasses of beer per batch, so roughly $3 for each 12-ounce glass you drink.

That’s a lot to spend on a beer gadget, but it’s not as much as the $800 PicoBrew Pico. Still, I’d hope the HOPii will offer a greater variety of brews by the time the product is finished.

Certain Kickstarter backers can also use the HOPii to ferment their homebrew recipes in precisely controlled conditions. That’d be a great extra if HOPii rolled it out to the final product, but for now, the company is only offering it on preordered machines. 

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