Today's Beer Atrocity: The SodaStream Beer Bar

SodaSteam is selling beer concentrate to mix with its sparkling water.

SodaStream, the at-home carbonation system that allows you to make your own tonic for your G&T is trying to bring its bubbles to beer. Their new beer-mixing kit, called the Beer Bar, includes a normal SodaStream. But instead of using syrup to flavor your soda, you take plain sparkling water from the machine and combine it with Beer Bar's alcoholic concentrate dubbed Blondie Beer (2 parts sparkling water, 1 part Blondie). SodaStream describes the resulting 4.5-percent ABV beer as having a “smooth authentic taste, and a hop-filled aroma.” The Beer Bar is currently only available in Germany and Switzerland, and is expected to drop in other markets later this year. But that doesn’t mean you should waste your time, liver, or money trying out the Blondie (about $3.34 per liter of concentrate, and 40 cents per beer) when it becomes available in the U.S.

The concentrate includes glucose syrup, a caloric bomb of simple sugar created by breaking apart strings of natural glucose molecules to produce an unnatural additive that offers no nutritional value. You'd never find glucose syrup in a craft brew (or likely anything mass-produced), but the concentrate is fermented at some point, so there’s no need for further aging. 

One major concern that SodaStream didn’t consider is the science of bubbles in beer. Since the concentrate comes uncarbonated, once you open the bottle of Blondie, there’s no CO2 to push away oxygen that will spoil the brew — assuming you don't make all three liters of the diluted beer at once. A growler of ale or lager that's been opened only tastes fresh for up to a week, and that's with the benefit of carbonation. So once you open the Blondie, you better drink it fast. 

A better option if you’re looking for a simple DIY homebrew is PicoBrew. Referred to as “the Keurig of home brewing,” PicoBrew is currently available for pre-order after raising $1.4 million on Kickstarter. The system uses pre-packaged pods filled with actual grains, hops, and yeast (no goop), and you can re-create dozens of different craft beers from brewers such as Dogfish Head and Rogue Ales.