Unlocks the world of lagering for home beer brewers. Lager your beer without a refrigerator, weighs just 6lbs, sits atop your fermenter Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on August 11, 2013.
About this project
The LagerJacket is the world’s smallest, most energy efficient, all-in-one lagering device. In a 70 degree house, it brings the temperature of your fermenting beer down to 35 degrees, or 50 degrees in a carboy (see heat transfer rods below). It unlocks a world of beer styles previously unavailable to homebrewers lacking the physical space or desire to own another refrigerator. An intuitive immersion cooling device, The LagerJacket sits atop your current fermenter and maintains a precise temperature, digitally set by you, for as long as it is plugged in. The precision offered by The LagerJacket is unlike anything currently available to the homebrewing world.
The LagerJacket accepts both carboys and ale pails. The rods are removable and user configurable to fit your setup with no equipment alteration necessary. The LagerJacket comes ready to plug and play with whatever vessel you choose. Included with every LagerJacket is a pre-drilled lid as well as a universal stopper to fit carboys (airlock adapter included).
Intuitive User Interface
Controlling the temperature of your fermenting beer is as easy as pressing a button and walking away. The simple design allows you to see the current temperature and set temperature and has just two buttons for manipulating them. If you are fermenting a lager, press the down button until you reach the ideal temperature for your yeast. The LagerJacket will hold your beer at this temperature until you tell it otherwise. If you need to do a diacetyl rest, simply press the up button until you reach your rest temp. For a cold crash, press the down button until you get to just above freezing.
High Tech Temperature Precision
The LagerJacket uses thermoelectric modules to pull heat out of your beer. These modules are normally used for small, precise cooling or heating jobs, such as in medical equipment, imaging equipment, and computers to keep critical system components at a precise temperature. With The LagerJacket, we have combined these highly accurate chips with a patent pending heat exchange engine, offering a level of temperature control rarely achieved in brewing. For more information about this technology and how it compares to traditional refrigeration, click here.
Heat Transfer Rods - You Choose The Finish
Stainless Steel. The stainless steel rods include an aluminum core that is incredibly effective at transferring heat out of your beer, but are protected by a layer of stainless steel, the gold standard of the brewing industry, making these rods practically indestructible.
Hard Anodized. Our hard anodized rods also contain an aluminum core, but have a more cost effective exterior. Like stainless, they will not impart flavors on your beer, but they do require gentle handling and can only be sanitized using iodine-based sanitizers.
The rods are detachable for easy cleaning and sanitation and will fit in both buckets and carboys. For maximum performance, two rods must be submerged in the beer for the optimal surface area contact to cool 5 gallons of beer. Since the opening of a carboy is so small, only one rod will fit and therefore the maximum delta between ambient and internal temperature is 20 degrees, or approximately 50 degrees in a 70 degree house.
The whole system is tied together by an insulated jacket that separates your fermenting beer from the external environment. This puffy jacket has a full 4 inches of Everest-worthy synthetic woven micro wadding to ensure none of the hard work the cooling head is doing is taken by the external environment. The nylon exterior is water resistant, stain resistant, and tear resistant. Jacket is machine washable.
Put it on a shelf when you’re not using it. No big pieces of machinery weighing in excess of 100lbs and taking up precious real estate in your home. The jacket compresses like a sleeping bag so it can be stowed anywhere that is convenient to you, not the other way around. Do you remember the last time you move your refrigerator? I do and I can’t say it was an enjoyable experience.
No matter what side of the energy debate you stand on, we can all agree that less energy use is better on the wallet. The LagerJacket pulls 90 W when cooling, and less than 10 W when idling. Compared to a chest freezer, this is a massive improvement. If The LagerJacket were lagering beer for a year straight, it would cost you $24. A second hand chest freezer can send that bill up to $200. Shocked? You should be. That’s 4 batches, or 200 bottles, of beer you just poured straight down your power outlet. How much of your beer budget is going towards energy? Click here to learn more.
Cooling Head: 11” x 6.5 ”x 5”
2x Cooling Rods: 18” long, 1.25” diameter
Weight: 6.2 lbs
Energy Consumption: ~90 W
Lowest Temperature Achievable: 35 degrees below ambient
Estimated kWh per batch:
Lager: 20kWh, Cost: ~$2.00
Ale: 5kWh, Cost: ~$0.50
How It All Started
The LagerJacket was born of necessity when I, Aaron, was living in Atlanta, GA. With temperatures never falling below 85 degrees in my small apartment, fermenting ales without overpowering esters was nearly impossible, let alone lagering a beer. I tried everything short of buying a chest freezer that I didn't have space for. I even re-routed my single AC unit to blow directly on my beer just to keep it at 68 degrees F. My now-wife was working from home at the time and she was sweating through some hot summers, but at least we had beer!
I began experimenting with other ways to drop the temperature of fermenting beer. As a computer nerd, I was familiar with Peltier units. Peltiers, or thermoelectric modules, are an array of dissimilar metals that transfer heat from one side of them to the other when a current is passed through. I began experimenting, but ran into some walls that I simply couldn't proceed beyond with my level of expertise. I contacted an engineering firm and together, we created the first prototype.
Ugly, impractical, and flawed, but it worked so it was a start. I began tweaking the design. The controller for one, broke the chips after a few weeks of use because of how it was handling the power being outputted to them. Obviously this is a bad thing. Second, the metal used as transfer rods was good at transferring heat, but corroded over time because of the highly acidic nature of the hops in the beer. Problem #2 to solve. Third, the usability was very poor. No way to easily clean the rods, no way to easily set the temperature. It belonged on someone's shop bench, not on store shelves. We had a lot of work cut out for us.
My amazing wife Paralee worked on multiple jacket designs. The one in the picture above featured a vinyl outer layer with a silica aerogel insulation making it incredibly low profile and insulated, but the stuff was just too dusty to use and we had a sticky film over everything in our living room for a month after that. She switched to modifying sleeping bags and with enough layers, we got to the performance we needed for the low powered cooler. Our current design has an insulation value comparable to a modern freezer! We're now working with an end-to-end clothier producer who will be producing our final jackets from pattern to delivered goods.
To solve problems 1 and 3 (breaking of chips and poor usability), we began working with a talented electrical engineer who created a customized temperature controller designed specifically to deal with the longevity of the peltier units. The added benefit from proceeding with this route was we could design the system to work any way we wanted, so we now have a beautiful, elegant system that performs flawlessly. Our board design is now final and we have our electronics manufacturer waiting to receive our first large order.
Lastly, we needed a set of rods that were beer-friendly. Using metals like copper allowed for extremely fast heat transfer, but leaves a bad taste in the beer. We went for a hybrid solution. Like high end cooking pots, we have a stainless steel coated rod that is in contact with the beer for commercial grade corrosion protection, but it has an aluminum core to allow the heat to be pulled out of the beer by the cooling engine. Aluminum transfers heat 10x as quickly as stainless steel, but is susceptible to corrosion. Stainless steel doesn't corrode in beer but can't transfer heat well. We tweaked the design so the rods are removable for easy cleaning and sanitizing. We are working with a well known producer of food-grade stainless steel equipment and has a history in building fermenters for commercial breweries. They have produced a number of rods for us already to stellar results and we are excited to continue to work with them.
On June 27th-29th, we were at the American Homebrewers Conference in Philadelphia demoing The LagerJacket to the conference's 3,500 attendees. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and are extremely excited to bring The LagerJacket to the homebrewing community.
Who We Are
BrewJacket is comprised of three great individuals, and two very loving and supporting significant others: Aaron Walls, Matt Goff, Amanda Bradley, and wives of Aaron and Matt, Paralee and Lianyi. We are all grad students at Cornell University and met in an entrepreneurship class in the Fall of 2012. Our business plan for BrewJacket went on to win the 2013 Hemmeter Award given by Cornell faculty to the business plan most likely to create a successful business and was given a cash infusion to help the prototypes get built.
Aaron is the CEO of BrewJacket, has a background in economics, and has successfully launched and operated a startup in the past. He worked as Senior Economist at PKF Hospitality Research for a number of years and is now getting his MBA at Cornell with a focus in startups and high growth businesses.
Matthew Goff is the CTO and lead engineer at BrewJacket. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering with highest honors from the University of Florida in 2010, a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Cornell University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Cornell University. Matthew has extensive experience working with and designing control systems, assembly lines and mechanical devices. During his career, he has designed assembly lines and designed devices for pharmaceutical use, orthopaedic surgery and biomedical research. During his research, he has examined control systems that are involved in both internal odometry for machines such as the mars rover and biomechanical processes such as how bones maintain their strength and structure.
Amanda has a background in sales and has spent a lot of time working in startup environments. She received her bachelor with honors in Philosophy from Boston College and her MBA and JD from Cornell University. Amanda is the firm's VP of sales and has been the critical driver of the patenting of The LagerJacket and the legal organization of BrewJacket, Inc.
Use of Proceeds
The funds we receive from this Kickstarter campaign will be used largely to produce the first set of LagerJackets. Our goal of $30,000 will cover the setup costs of injection molding, pattern finalization of the jacket component, electrical engineering costs, and importantly, purchasing enough raw materials to allow economies of scale to make The LagerJacket affordable to homebrewers.
We will also use the funding to research additional applications of The LagerJacket. The first of said applications is for a cornelius keg top allowing The LagerJacket to be used in many more ways, such as with Blichmann conical fermenters, with cornelius kegs for secondary lagering and cold crashing, and even for serving beer out of a corny keg without a refrigerator. The low-power consumption of the LagerJacket allows some pretty spectacular applications for serving beer out of a LagerJacket enabled corny keg. Plugging it into a car's electrical outlet to take car camping, or even plugging into a solar array are easily achieved and surprisingly affordable.
After we are successfully funded, we will contact our manufacturing partners and place component orders for the number of units we were able to get funded. Our electronics partner requires a 6-8 week window between order and delivery, our clothier requires a 8-12 week window, our metals partner requires a 3-4 week window, and our injection molder requires a 6-8 week window. We plan on successfully closing our kickstarter in the middle of August 2013, and allowing our manufacturing partners to send us our parts.
Our shop is located in Cornell University's PopShop, which is a communal work space for student startups located at 325 College Ave, Ithaca NY. For the first set of units, Matt, Amanda, and myself will be the assemblers. However as we begin scaling up in production, we have been in contact with a set of people who are excited to come on board.
We have a number of early delivery components already and once funded, we will begin working on assembling and sending those to our early release backers. These we expect to deliver by October 2013, with the remainder of the units delivered by January 2014.
Risks and challenges
Setbacks are natural, and we hope to not have any, however if we do here is how we will address them:
First, we are very fortunate to be in school have access to an amazing network of faculty and alumni here at Cornell to provide guidance and support. From engineering, to legal, to business, to the environment, we have experts that are all within walking distance that can assist us with any issue that may arise.
From a labor perspective, we have been in contact with a large number of undergraduate students who are extremely interested in being involved in this project. There are even programs Cornell where the university will pay for the undergraduate to intern with a university affiliated startup, so if we find ourselves in need of additional help, we will not be held back.
From a financial perspective, while we have done our math and know our numbers work out right, there are always contingencies that complicate things, such as a number of components changing price, or a quantity minimum being changed. If this does occur, with a successfully funded project, we have a number of investors interested in becoming involved in the project and having the backing of the Kickstarter community will prove the demand exists for The LagerJacket and cash infusions will be easier to come by. Aaron is also a manager for the BR Venture Fund at Johnson and has experience dealing with startups looking for additional capital.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, however with a catch. The rods are removable for easy cleaning and sanitation, so you will have the option of simply installing a single rod if you wish to use a carboy. The catch however is that two rods are needed to obtain the correct surface area contact with the beer to pull heat out. With a single rod we run into some limitations of physics and as such the delta from ambient is smaller and slower to achieve than with two rods installed.
In a 70 to 75 degree house, you can expect to achieve a fermentation temperature in the low to mid 50s with a single rod. With two rods, you can expect a fermentation temperature in the low to mid 30s.
Yes! It sits in front of the cooling head and is the standard airlock that you probably have 15 of floating around your house. There is a nice space for it when the jacket is fully zipped.
No. Each LagerJacket includes a pre-drilled lid for whatever fermentation pail you are using as well as stoppers to ensure a sanitary air tight seal.
- (30 days)