Review: The Beerbug
The ‘BeerBug‘ is a device that attaches to the top of your fermentor that tracks the fermentation progress and temperature of your brew.
Right … next, how much does it cost.
Well its 250 dollars for the main unit and 40 dollars for the temperature probe (which you really need), oh – and there is the shipping of about 25 dollars, So we are looking at 320 dollars and the duty you will probably get stung for.
Before you make up your mind … let’s skip the price for the moment, as I want to get to the product and tell you about that.
Fitting and installation
The BeerBug does easily fit as a replacement for the airlock, it has main computer unit and a torpedo that sinks into your wort.
This component is easily fitted onto most peoples current fermentors, however it does replace the airlock so you wont have the comforting sound bubbling as you sit down to watch your favourite episode of third rock from the sun. An Airlock can be fitted to the BeerBug but its not a snug as a normal airlock.
The temperature probe, unfortunately, this required a hole in the top of my fermentor as some of the probe must be in the beer, that said I found the feedback from this component one of the best features – so this is a price worth paying.
You sterilse the torpedo, then place it into the wort just after you have pitched your yeast, then press the button on the device and go to your computer.
You then calibrate the device ‘online’ to tell it the current SG, it does guess – but its more accurate to calibrate or Tare.
You can add ingredients and all sorts of details on here if you choose.
and hey presto – for the next week or two –
You can monitor the fermentation and temperature of your batch.
For a man who likes to brew HefeWeiss – it’s a disaster, for this style
I have dealt with a couple of blow outs and put simply, it’s like giving a two year old a spoon in a bowl of yogurt and leaving the room for 5 minutes – it’s carnage.
This pretty much holds true for Russian Imperial Stouts, as well as Dunkels, Weissbock .. look – any batch that risks a blow out – just don’t put this device near it!
That said – for most batches Pale Ales, IPAs, Irish Reds, Stouts – it’s perfect.
The battery is good for 2 or 3 days, however – I found myself just powering it up the whole time, this wasn’t as much hassle as you think – I generally have a heat pad on, so it’s just an additional android phone charger.
Once you are happy the fermentation is complete, simply click ‘finish brew’ and rack the beer, however, you have to be ultra careful removing the torpedo, people have managed to break the connecter by forgetting it’s there and yanking the top part away.
Now another thing I forgot to mention. The website – good grief – I have ‘assisted’ the development team and it has been a car crash at times, getting dodgy data-points and occasional wacky readings, and then sometimes – not being able to get onto the website at all.
So the web front-end is a far from finished product, but it has improved and stabilised recently.
All in all, I liked this product but I can’t deny, its hard to get over its price and the fact you aren’t going to use it on every batch.
That said the feedback and information returned is extremely valuable, and to be fair that’s one of the most important things
I was surprised to see how quick the SG dropped and it gave me confidence in the brew and its fermentation progress – which is always a good thing.
Oh – I forgot to mention the App, it runs on smartphones, android and iphone (not ipad) , it’s mega cool, especially when your buddy asks you in the pub, hows your IPA doing !!
In summary, if this unit cost 100 dollars – I’d give it five stars.
Still, I’m glad I bought it and I am very happy with the brews where it has worked correctly.
Price – One Star
Setup – Two stars
Brewing usefulness – Five stars
Hipster Rating – Four stars
Overall – three stars
As the Bank Radio Ads would say – I have received no gratuity or product for this review!