Gear Test 2017: Analytics | Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine
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Gear Test 2017: Analytics

In our 2017 Gear Guide issue (April/May), our editors tested and reviewed a variety of analytic brewing tools. Here are the results.

Gear Test 2017: Analytics Primary Image

In our 2017 Gear Guide issue (April/May), our editors tested and reviewed a variety of analytic brewing tools. Here are the results.

Blichmann Brew Vision

Test lab notes

On the surface, the BrewVision (above, bottom right) seems like a simple temperature gauge that reports back to your phone, but after using it a couple of times, the utility becomes more apparent. With Beersmith integration, it allows you to map, log, and export (CSV) your brew logs to compare and evaluate any potential changes in the final product. The device was incredibly easy to setup and install in both kettles and fermentors.

We hope the next step in the product roadmap is “IFTTT” (if this, then that), which would let the device take action on the readings. Version one is useful, but future versions could be game changers.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment? X
High Value?

Price: $99.99
Manufacturer: Blichmann
Available from: blichmannengineering.com

Tappecue

Test lab notes

Brewing and BBQ have a fair amount in common—both are driven by passionate hobbyists with a hankering for something tasty. They also both take hours upon hours and require precise temperature control. That’s of course where the Tappecue (above, bottom left) comes in. The device lets you track up to four temperature probes (fits well in thermowells, not as effective in the pot or fermentor) with WiFi-based logging and notifications, letting you stroll away before getting a push notification that you’ve hit pre-defined temperatures. In the moment you can act on that information or later download a CSV log.

The biggest downside of the Tappecue is setting it up—the interface is pretty clunky, and you need both a smartphone and a computer involved.

Scorecard

Easy to Use?
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment? X
High Value?

Price: $149.00
Manufacturer: Tappecue
Available from: tappecue.com

BrewJacket

Test lab notes

As a company obsessed with perfecting our craft, we monitor and adjust the temperature of our fermentation with more OCD than any other part of the brewing process (except cleanliness). The BrewJacket Immersion (above, center) is the first device we’ve ever used that allows us to easily heat and cool almost any fermentor. It has become an indispensible staple in our brewing-gear arsenal due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

For more efficient temp control, we also recommend insulating your fermentor with a sleeping bag or one of their pre-made fermentor jackets. The device will get your beer to the proper fermentation temperature, but it will not be as fast as immersed coils with water running through them.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment? X
High Value? X

Price: $299
Manufacturer: BrewJacket
Available from: brewjacket.com

Thermopen

Test lab notes

The Thermopen (above, top right) was the smartest, best-constructed handheld thermometer that we tested. We used it throughout all the testing of different equipment and came to appreciate some of its more nuanced features including screen auto-rotation, sleep/wake motion sensor, backlight auto sensor, and perhaps most importantly, it’s waterproof. The price feels a little high, but for a reliable, well-built piece of equipment that can be used for both brewing and cooking, it’s a utility tool that is worth the investment. After all, temperature is one of the most important factors in making a great beer.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment? X
High Value? X

Price: $99
Manufacturer: ThermoWorks
Available from: thermoworks.com

eDrometer

Test lab notes

For those of us who love immediate gratification, the eDrometer (above, top left) can test samples of any temperature and automatically adjust its reading. It calculates specific gravity, density, Brix, Plato, Baume, sugar concentration, potential alcohol, ABV, proof, and temperature within seconds. We were able to sample several liquids in quick succession, and it’s a slick machine that’s relatively easy to clean. Sample size is larger than other similar digital devices, which is a small concern for homebrewers, and ABV in beer has to be calculated the old-fashioned way. Our cross-checks with an analog hydrometer and refractometer showed the readings to be correct, but the price is a bit steep for a unit that isn’t handheld. Useful in a lab or small home brewery.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment?
High Value?

Price: $350
Manufacturer: STM Instruments
Available from: stm-instrument.com

Unistat III

Test lab notes

We put four single-stage controllers to the test of powering our HERMS coil, managing fermentation temperature, and cooling our keezer, and Unistat 3 (above, right middle) came out as our favorite. The build quality is solid, the indication lights were easy to read, and it was very easy to adjust from heat to cool. One extra feature it has that the others did not was the ability to have some variable power control—being able to set the keezer to 50 percent of power made sure that it didn’t freeze the entire unit before shutting it off. The system also has built-in controls for on/off at different temperature differentials to avoid quick power swings. The only wish-list function is dual-stage capability so it could trigger heating and cooling at the same time.

Scorecard

Easy to Use? X
Easy to Sanitize? X
Build Quality? X
Enjoyment? X
High Value?

Price: $99
Manufacturer: BH Enterprises
Available from: tempstatcontrols.com

For more gear reviews of breathalyzers, kettles, mash tuns, burners, chillers, growlers, and much more, check out the April/May 2017 issue of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Get your copy today!

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