Say it’s Friday night, and you’re having friends over to have a beer and watch the game. You ask your buddy what type of beer she likes, and when she tells you she wants a hoppy IPA, you say no problem.
While you don’t have one in the fridge, within a few minutes you return from your kitchen and hand your friend a pint of freshly-made American-style IPA.
That’s the vision for a new startup out of Belgium called Bar.on, which claims to have created the world’s first molecular beer printer. The machine, which the company calls One Tap, can produce a variety of beer styles such as blond, brown, IPA, and tripel, as well as make high, low, or even no-alcohol beer.
The One Tap uses what the company calls “beer cartridges,” small vials of flavor compounds that can dial up or down a beer’s hoppiness, sweetness, fruitiness, and aroma. The machine, which can fit on a kitchen countertop, allows the user to adjust the parameters and have a beer ready to drink within a couple of minutes.
If the idea sounds similar to the Cana, it is, only unlike the Cana, the Bar.on system just makes beer. And unlike the long list of startups that have come (and mostly gone) focused on building home brewing appliances, the One Tap makes beer instantly, without the bother of going through the days (or even weeks) long process of brewing and fermenting up the sudsy stuff.
A big part of the Bar.on pitch is also similar to Cana’s in that it plays up the sustainability angle of avoiding shipping vast amounts of liquid and the elimination of beverage containers. It’s a smart pitch, though one that will likely resonate more with Europeans, who tend to be more mindful of the environmental impact of their consumption habits than Americans.
Of course, the big test is how the beer tastes. While I have my doubts about the machine making anything resembling a Pliny the Elder or Bodhizafa quality brew, Bar.on claims that their molecular beer recipes have performed well in blind taste tests.
And then there’s the slight weirdness around the idea of ‘printing’ a beer. Still, one strong argument in its favor is that the concept overcomes the most significant deterrent for home beer crafting, which is that it’s a messy process that takes a long time to make a consumable beverage. In this sense, the One Tap takes home beer making out of the realm of a dedicated hobby and brings it something closer to the convenience of a Sodastream or Keurig coffee maker.
The Bar.on team, which raised €.1.8 million last fall, has developed its home machine prototype and is also working on a professional machine for bars called the One Tap Pro, which it plans to put into field test later this year. The company says it is raising a Series A to scale up operations and the production of its system.