Whirlpool Corp. is currently developing a new product that will likely delight lovers of micro brews and hobby brewing. Based in Benton Harbor, the manufacturer of KitchenAid and Maytag launched the Vessi Beer Fermentor and Dispenser system for home brewers on the popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.
The project was initiated two years ago with an internal business case. A handful of employees worked in compliance to create the perfect home beer fermentation system for hobby brewers.
“One of the prizes is that the team is given money to do research,” explained senior manager of open innovation and strategic partnerships at Whirlpool Noel Dolan. “They brought back some eye-opening statistics about the craft beer world and how it’s growing and doesn’t show signs of not continuing to grow.”
Considering that an estimated 1.2 million home brewers produce somewhere around 2 million barrels of home brew every year in the United States, this product is likely to be highly desirable for a particular and quickly expanding market. According to the American Homebrewers Association, two thirds of those 1.2 million home brewers started in 2005 or later. seme brewing systems currently on the market tend to focus more on the actual brewing process than any other of the important asprects of creating a beer. The Vessi provides an unusual service in that it aids with the fermentation, carbonation and dispensing of up to six gallons of home-brewed beer, and it can speed that process to as little as seven days.
The Vessi is able to accomplish these feats in its pressure-and temperature-controlled system, which enables users to reduce the risk of contamination and oxidation. These two issues are the bane of home brewers’ existence, and can ruin an entire batch if not painstakingly avoided. Not only can the Vessi virtually ensure that the beer will remain safe and sound in its opportune brewing environment, but when it’s finished it can be served directly from a tap instead of being siphoned into bottles that then must be capped one by one.
While the patent on the Vessi continues to be pending, it’s expected to retail at somewhere around $1,899 and will be space and energy efficient; it should be somewhere around the height and depth of a dishwasher.
The Vessi’s backers on Indiegogo are buying the product in advance and at a discount, enabling Whirlpool to ensure that there is truly a market for such an expensive and niche product. So far the outlook is pretty good; within one day of launching the Indiegogo product over 50 Vessi units were sold. It had 100 backers within a few days, which is saying something considering that the product will only be available to be shipped to America, Australia, Canada, Germany, the U.K., and New Zealand.
“This is the first product we have ever done in a crowdfunding sort of market,” explained Dolan. “Instead of doing a lot of consumer research beforehand, we’ve flipped it on its head. We are putting together what we think they want and then asking what they would change.”
A fair amount of people are excited and interested, but whether it will be enough remains to be seen.