The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

Fresh beer in your kitchen from this disarmingly attractive device? Yes please.Image: The Greater GoodBy Shannon Connellan2020-11-11 11:18:19 UTCThe Pinter£98 (GBP75)Slick design o Bragging rights o Almost impossible to mess up o Fresh beer on tap at home o Extremely quick brewing timeNot cheap at first (though cheap once set-up) o Skips the core bits of home brewing o No customisationThe Bottom LineThe Pinter is an extremely easy way to make fresh beer at home in a great looking device.

If you’re not hardcore about brewing, but want to make your own IPA on tap, this is for you.? Mashable Score 4.0? Cool Factor 4.5?Learning Curve 4.0?Performance 4.0?Bang for the Buck 4.0

Brewing your own beer at home comes with excessive bragging rights and entitlement to smug Instagram posts, regardless of how it tastes.

But brewing craft beer in your kitchen isn’t the easiest of tasks for newcomers. Instead, it’s a path paved with possibilities for ruin, for accidental spillage, for devastatingly “fine” results. It’s something I’ve tried myself, or rather watched nearby as my partner painstakingly sanitised tubing and stirred a bubbling pot of barley while I “participated via Spotify mood playlisting.” Craft beer is something I’ve more often than not left to the professionals.

Surely there’s some middle ground though for brewing n00bs like myself, a way to get fresh beer you’ve made yourself at home that you can’t really mess up? Created by newcomer UK craft brewing company The Greater Good, the Pinter is a home brewing device that has been pitched as the “Nespresso of beer.” Like the covetable coffee pod espresso machine, the brewing device makes the home process as slick as possible, housed in the type of candy-colored KitchenAid-like casing that makes design fiends enthusiastically hand over their dosh.

The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

I mean, look at that Hot Red.

Image: the greater good

The Pinter is the creation of Alex Dixon and Ralph Broadbent, university friends and former UK music festival organisers of events like the Peak District’s Y Not Festival and Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival. Now they’re running The Greater Good with master brewer Evangelos Tsionos out of the London suburb of Walthamstow, and decided to develop the Pinter as a means for people to make their own beer at home easily, regardless of their brewing experience.

The Pinter comes in six colours: Frost White, Hot Red, Jet Black, Slate Grey, Tropical Yellow, and True Blue. The more confident in their upbeat design choices will probably pick the Tropical Yellow or Hot Red, but as someone who likes to project they’re a minimalist while covering their fridge in tacky travel magnets, I picked the Jet Black.

The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

Pick your colour.

Image: The greater Good

Using what’s called a Pinter Pack, the Pinter allows you to make one of six types of beverage — there are four beers (Public House IPA, Stars and Stripes American Pale Ale, Fresh Republic Lager, and Craftwerk Pilsner) and two ciders (Waltham Forest Dark Fruit Cider and Cloudy Nine Apple Cider). For this review, we’re making the Stars and Stripes APA, because hey, election.

Each aesthetically pleasing Pinter Pack comes with a tiny bottle of brewing yeast, a purifying agent or sanitiser for the vessel, and a bottle of Fresh Press, which is the key to cutting time and effort in the home brewing process. It’s one of the real innovations of the Pinter, the Fresh Press: a bottle of molasses-looking liquid that is the result of skipping the malting, kilning, milling, and mashing bit of beer production. According to the website, the team “intensify the Presses by taking water out at no more than 65?C in a vacuum chamber” to lock in the flavour while it sits in the bottle waiting to be moved along in the brewing process by you.

You just pour it into the Pinter at one stage, add yeast, and fill it up with water. That’s it. It’s this that might put off hardcore home brewers who respect the grinding labor of the craft and want total control over the process.

But it’s also this that might attract newcomers to brewing, or those who don’t have the time or inclination to complete all the home brewing stages, but still want fresh beer on tap at home. It’s the same appeal and blight of coffee pod machines: baristas hate ’em, busy people love ’em. 

The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

The Pinter Packs come with the Fresh Press, purifier, and brewing yeast.

Image: shannon connellan

Home brewing kits can
cost anywhere from GBP35-90
depending on where you buy them from and what’s included, and while this might seem steep upfront, once you’ve got the equipment, future batches will only cost you ingredients. The same goes for the Pinter, which at GBP75 sits around the higher than average mark for kits, but is still relatively cheap per pint once you’re up and running. 

If you buy a Pinter for GBP75 (£98), it comes with two Pinter Packs of your choice. Individual packs cost GBP13 (£17) and each makes about 10 pints of beer, which means each pint sits at around GBP1.30 (£1.70). Particularly Londoners, you read that correctly — in 2019, the average cost of a pint in the UK was GBP3.79,
according to The Good Pub Guide
, with Londoners handing over an average of GBP4.57.

If you’re buying craft beer from the supermarket, say GBP6 for a four-pack of Camden Hells bottles, it comes to about GBP1.50 per beer, but at 330ml per bottle it’s not a full pint (about 568ml).  The packs are also available through a monthly subscription service, The Fresh Beer Club, from GBP12 (£15.68) per month. Conveniently, they come delivered in letterbox-sized packs, the kind of which every new subscription company seems to be promoting these days on Instagram — Ohne for tampons, Smol for laundry detergent tablets.

And importantly, this type of packaging is pipped as more friendly to the environment than nasty plastic packages and bubble wrap. Alright, let’s attempt this. For set-up and step-by-step brewing instructions, the company’s website or app is highly useful.

Here you’ll find the process broken down into four stages (purifying, brewing, conditioning, and cleaning), each with easy to follow steps and video GIFs that you can play, pause, and rewatch if you’re unsure of anything (hi). It’ll even double-check steps that are important to get right, and if you run into any trouble – like I did with my feeble arms attempting to unscrew the main cap – you can message the team using the live chat feature — I would not, for instance, have thought to feed a wooden spoon through the handle as a grip to unscrew the cap. Brilliant. *makes plan to open all things with wooden spoon forevermore*

As far as space goes, you’re going to need bench space and access to a sink with a tap, and if your sink isn’t deep enough, something to pour water into the Pinter with (a kettle or jug works). Prepare to splash about a bit if you’re uncoordinated like me, but experienced pourers and those with ample gross motor skills shouldn’t need as many towels as I did.  The first stage is purifying the Pinter and its tap with the included sanitising agent and hot water, a critical process in brewing beer that ensures the ideal environment for fermentation.

The website says it should take four to eight minutes, but as I’m a rookie and I needed to check the instructions about four times each, I took a little more like 20 minutes. You’ll need to lift the Pinter and move it around horizontally for this, so if you have mediocre upper body strength like me, just take it easy. 

The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

The Pinter unpacked.

Image: The greater good

Then comes the brewing process in which you pour the Fresh Beer, brewing yeast, and water into the device and shake for 10 seconds before leaving it for the amount of days stipulated on the front of the bottle (for the APA, it’s four days brewing, three days conditioning — we’ll get to that). It’s incredibly easy and again, requires no mashing, no straining, none of the more laborious — but notably traditional and customisable — parts of craft brewing (it’s this part of the process that allows you to play around with the taste of the beer if you’re making it from scratch).

Home brewing usually sees this part of the process take up to two weeks, before another two weeks for development after bottling, so the Pinter’s ability to brew in under a week is something. You must make sure the Pinter’s innovative carbonation dial is set to “carbonated” before filling it up — this neat feature allows carbon dioxide to escape, which is a by-product of the natural process of turning sugar into alcohol as the beer brews. In home brew kits, you’ll see this facilitated in special caps on growlers with tubing sitting in jars of water, or fancier set-ups, but the Pinter has this built into the device in order to self-regulate the pressure levels.

After leaving your Pinter in a room temperature spot vertically on its brewing dock for the required four days, the next stage is conditioning, the final stage before tapping, when you can smash a frothy of your own making. This stage is laughably easy — all you need to do is remove the brewing dock and wash it out, then add the tap and front cover and pop the whole thing in the fridge for conditioning — if you move a few things around, it literally fits right in there.

The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

Don’t judge my sad fridge contents.

Image: shannon connellan

A few days later you’re ready for tapping, which just requires you to switch off the carbonation and pour out a bit of froth before your first brew comes out, much like a regular pub tap.  The Pinter team sent us a readymade beer to try alongside the beer we brewed ourselves, and the taste was pretty similar — a highly drinkable, smooth American-style pale ale.

Considering the speed and ease of brewing this beer, I actually expected it to be average in taste, but it’s a deliciously crisp, slightly toasty, medium hoppy, amber hued ale (and it tastes fresher than beer poured from a bottle or can, as draught beer does to me). This goes to show that the Pinter makes the process almost foolproof, much like a pod espresso machine — you’d have to really try to mess this up if you’re following the instructions. 

The Pinter review: The 'Nespresso of beer' makes home brewing staggeringly easy

Ta-da!

Image: shannon connellan

And that’s it. Ten pints of Actually Good beer ready in seven days.

It must be said that the satisfaction that comes with brewing your own beer from scratch and labouring over the entire process was deeper when I’ve done this in the past than with the Pinter. But to be honest, the pure smuggery that comes with having fresh beer on tap in my own fridge with minimal effort swept this aside with one sip. Sure, this might not be the device for hardcore home brewers.

But for anyone who’s keen to create their own brews at home without fuss, or if you simply want to enjoy a draught beer on tap without going to the pub, the Pinter is a spectacularly clever, well-designed, and disarmingly attractive contraption.

And considering plenty of us can’t leave the house amid this ongoing pandemic, it might just be worth the splurge.

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