By the end of CES, I’m betting all attendees (this reporter included) will be in dire need of a cold beer. They might want to hit up INTHEKEG, a smart brewery platform I took a tour of at CES’ Eureka Park this week.
INTHEKEG is roughly the size of a refrigerator, has a small interactive screen display, and runs off of electricity. The device can hold 10 ‘SMARTKEG’s, the 18-liter container in which the beer is brewed and stored, each of which can be a separate flavor. Brewers order ‘SMARTKEG’s from the INTHEKEG website. Each container comes with all of the ingredients needed to brew a particular style of beer (pale ale, IPA, etc).
Put the SMARTKEG into the machine with some water, press a button, and between two and four weeks later (depending on aging and brew environments) you’ll have freshly-made beer, which can be dispensed directly from the INTHEKEG machine. Beer brewing and levels can be monitored via the INTHEKEG app. The full containers are stored in the device at the optimal temperature for its particular flavor of beer. After use, the machine automatically sterilizes and cleans itself.
While INTHEKEG is pretty hands-off, those who want to customize their brew can add flavorings — like pumpkin, blueberry, or fresh hops — to a canister which will infuse the beer. An INTHEKEG rep told me that people use that option to make unique brews for special events, like weddings. He said that the device will cost roughly $10,000 to buy. However, he told me it can be leased out for around $50 per month — which seems incredibly low to me, but clearly they’re hoping to hook people and continue selling them SMARTKEGs. He did not disclose how much the SMARTKEGs cost.
If that sounds pretty high-tech and high-volume for a home brew operation, it is. INTHEKEG’s giant size and almost-as-giant cost will likely make it a tough sell for home brewers, especially since there are more affordable countertop devices like Picobrew, BEERMKR and Minibrew out there.
However, I could definitely see it being a fun device to rent out for events, like weddings and birthdays. INTHEKEG could also be a good investment for restaurants or catering operations that want to attract beer-lovers with a signature brew which was made on-site — provided they can figure out how to move the heavy machine to different venues. The machine can also make wine, kombucha, and sake, which opens up some possibilities (fresh kombucha at music festivals, anyone?)
INTHEKEG is already sold in China, India and Korea, and will land in the U.S. later this year. If you want to take a little tour of the machine, check out the video I shot on the CES show floor below!