Do you like beer? Do you like cider? Would you like to brew your own? Would you like a frustrating experience? Well, gang, do I have a treat for you!
This is the Pinter from the Greater Good Fresh Brewing Company. It promises to introduce you to the wonderful world of beer and cider brewing. It is only mildly annoying to use.
First up, cost. £75. That’s a chunk of change – but it comes with two different brews, each good for 10 pints. That works out at £3.75 per pint – which isn’t too shabby. Subsequent kits are £13 each, which is £1.30 per pint. Or you can subscribe to a monthly pack for £12 each.
Each pack comes with a large plastic bottle of pre-mixed beer concentrate. You also get a vial of sterilising crystals for cleaning the unit before brewing, and a small pack of yeast.
The kit comes beautifully packaged. Despite being a somewhat industrial bit of kit, they know that it has to fit in to a home.
It’s even available in a choice of colour to match your décor. Nice.
The unit itself mostly feels pretty sturdy. There are a few scribbles of leftover plastic which you might want to gently remove. My unit came with a few scuffs on the plastic.
Some of the instructions are printed directly onto the unit – which is helpful – but the print quality isn’t great, and looks like it will wear off with a bit of washing.
Others are on temporary stickers. I’m not really sure why. They’re useful pointers and probably ought to be permanently attached.
The stickers are easy to peel off – which rather raises the question of why they’re there.
All the parts are fairly stiff when trying to remove them, so it is worth following the instructional videos before you make anything. That’ll get you used to how to manipulate everything.
A couple of things come to light when you do a practice run. The handle is quite a ridiculously tight fit. It is impossible to use it without scraped knuckles. Similarly, some of plastic feels a little fragile – don’t apply too much force.
The first run is incredibly frustrating. I spent an evening wrestling with the kit trying to assemble it.
This what I'm getting.
Do I have a defective unit or am I just too weak 😂 pic.twitter.com/nZzZgBUzgi
— Terence Eden (@edent) April 14, 2021
Before I found a YouTube tutorial and found out the supplied instructions were wrong!
In order to fit the brewing dock, you must invert the Pinter. I found it impossible to screw the dock on to the Pinter – I ended up cutting my knuckles and chipping the fragile plastic.
Place the dock on a flat surface, lift up the Pinter, align it, and twist. Very annoying.
To their credit, the supplier did ship me out a replacement part – and a free brew – to apologise.
Once that’s done it’s a pretty passive process. Leave it somewhere stable for a week. Then remove a part to clean out the used up yeast.
Then stick it in your fridge for a couple of days.
The Taste Test
I started with the “Lockwood Pilsner”. It came out extremely fizzy and thickly yellow – with a fair amount of sediment at the bottom.
First pints are *very* thick, almost opaque, with a fair bit of sediment.— Terence Eden (@edent) April 24, 2021
But it tastes… like a reasonable lager.
Light, fizzy, no obvious aftertaste. pic.twitter.com/TiPAsS6HQt
And it tasted… fine. A clear, crisp taste. No overpowering flavours or surprises. If you had it at a beer festival, you would score it as a perfectly average beer. I don’t know how alcoholic it was – there’s no measurement device included with the kit. But a couple of pints didn’t leave me noticeably impaired.
After a few more days in the fridge, the clarity had improved. The taste become much more interesting and “crafty”.
Can I make other beers in it?
Their FAQ is pretty clear that they only support their own proprietary blend of liquids and yeasts. But this isn’t some horrific espresso machine which only works with the manufacturer’s pods. It’s a big ol’ barrel and valve – no mechanical or moving parts. So it will probably work.
It is hard for me to recommend this. It is very much a prototype product and, as a beta test, it is OK. It is fiddly to use, with confusing instructions. The plastic parts feel very fragile at times. A bunch of the little rubber feet have already fallen off. It would be helpful to have a transparent window on the barrel to see how much is left in there.
In order to get all the beer out, you need to tip up the barrel – I can’t help wondering why it isn’t designed with a built-in slope.
At this sort of price, I expected something a little more high tech. Perhaps a little Arduino to display the alcohol level, or to show the ideal temperature.
It can be quite messy to use. So be prepared for a fair bit of washing and scrubbing.
The beer is pretty good, and there’s a certain sense of accomplishment from (mostly) brewing it yourself. I say “mostly” because all you’re doing is mixing pre-made ingredients and waiting. There aren’t any choices or decisions to make. With all that said, it works. Mixing yeast with a sugary solution and water produces fizzy alcohol.
But you end up with an entire shelf of your fridge taken up for as long as it takes you to get through 10 pints of beer. And that’s a bit of a pain unless you have a spare fridge. I ended up bottling as much of it as I could.
And, that’s the main problem. You end up with the barrel dominating your fridge for around a week – a few days for conditioning and a few days for drinking. Depending on your lifestyle, that’s a big commitment.
If you value small batch, interesting beer – I recommend you spend the money at your local brewery and get a selection of bottles. Store them in your cupboard and chill them whenever you want.
I’m going to try a couple of the other brews – cider is up next – but I think this might be one of those kitchen gadgets which comes out once or twice per year.