As fresh as it gets
In partnership with Pinter
Tuesday 19 January 2021
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We first came across the Pinter a few years ago, when the Greater Good Brewing Company was pushing the first round of crowdfunding for its development. It was always an intriguing proposition; sitting somewhere between a beer subscription and homebrew, it's a simple-to-use, self-contained system for creating fresh beer at home, requiring no brewing experience or specialist kit.
On the face of it, the Pinter looks a little like the mini keg dispense systems that have emerged over the past few years: a broadly barrel-shaped vessel, with a tap handle at the front, that sits in your fridge. It's handsome, modern, and comes in a range of jazzy colours (as well as understated black, if you like your beer with a little sobriety). Unlike other keg systems though, the beer from your Pinter is always super-fresh; it's brewed on your kitchen counter, with zero effort and very little mess.
It achieves this through some genuinely innovative, patent-pending engineering, hidden in that sleek package. Any yeast and residue from fermentation settles into a 'Brewing Dock', which is then detached, leaving behind only bright, pressurised beer. It also does away with time-consuming secondary fermentation; the Pinter retains the CO2 that's produced during primary fermentation and uses this to carbonate the beer. The whole process takes around seven days, or ten if you want even better results.
Each beer comes in a letterbox-friendly 'Pinter Pack', which includes a 'Fresh Press' bottle of malt and hop extract, as well as yeast and a vial of cleaning solution to prepare the kit for use. Packs are available on a subscription basis or through the online shop, and come in a decent range of styles, from pilsner to a rich espresso stout. Unlike the grim malt extracts of years gone by, the Fresh Press in each Pinter pack is produced using a process which retains all the flavours and aromas of the high-quality ingredients, yielding results that Greater Good claims will rival a beer brewed straight from whole grains.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, however, so I am delighted when a review unit lands on my desk, complete with three Pinter Packs, for me to try out. My first impression – shared by several workmates who had gathered round for The Great Unboxing – is how slick the whole package is. The bright yellow box unfolds like origami, with the blue Pinter, Brewing Dock and Pinter Packs all laid out in its centre, against a printed backdrop of golden wheat. With tough plastic and stainless steel, the Pinter itself looks and feels solid and premium. My colleague James remarks that, if you opened this on Christmas Day, you would assume someone had spent considerably more than the £75 price tag.
The first 'brew' is wonderfully uneventful; rip open the Pinter Pack (again, nice recycled packaging) and rinse everything through with the sanitiser provided. Then fill the Pinter with cold water, pour in the Fresh Press and yeast, attach the brewing dock and leave standing vertically in a quiet corner for five days. It occasionally spritzes out a little waft of excess CO2, letting me know my beer is alive.
It's then time for conditioning, so I detach the Beer Dock and rinse out the spent yeast, flip a dial on the back of the Pinter and lay it gently on the top shelf of my fridge. It takes up a good amount of real estate, but since the fridge is usually full of beer in any case, this actually feels like quite an efficient way to store ten pints. The only real downside is having to resist the urge to sneak a preview sip every time I go to make a cup of tea.
Another five days pass and the (albeit short) wait is over. I've gone for the Stars and Stripes American pale ale first, as I suspect it will be more of a crowd pleaser than the Espresso Stout. Tapping the Pinter is a simple matter of turning the dial again, attaching the tap handle and pulling my first pint.
It pours very satisfactorily, with a decent amount of force, just like a normal keg, and creates a dense, good-looking head of foam. I'm looking particularly for fresh hop notes on the nose, and I'm not disappointed, with a waft of citrus and tropical fruit, as well as bready malt. This carries through to my first cold sip; the balance is there, with good bitterness – minus the chemical tang you'd get from hop extracts of yore – plus a lovely slug of draught-fresh hop character.
The Pinter holds 10 pints for each brew, so you'd really need to enjoy the style to want that kind of commitment. Fortunately, the APA is moreish and very sessionable, and it seems all the Pinter Pack recipes have been selected with this in mind. With each 10-pint pack costing £15, it's a relatively economical way to enjoy fresh beer at home too; I could certainly see myself sticking with this, and supplementing it with more unusual beer styles in can and bottle. I'm certainly looking forward to exploring the rest of the range.
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