The recent revelation that a
god among men New Jersey man used his Instant Pot to ferment wine drew swift approval today from us Takeout writers. I use my Instant Pot—a combination pressure cooker/slow cooker/rice maker/etc., for those unaware of its many selling points—for conventional tasks like cooking soups or hard-boiling eggs. But I began to wonder what other feats could be accomplished within its pressurized walls. Namely, could you brew beer in it?
People have certainly asked this before I did. A thread on the American Homebrewers Association forum theorized a few ways that an Instant Pot could be put to use for brewing: sterilizing equipment, canning starter wort (the sugary sludge that yeast chomp on to create beer); brewing sour beers using the pot’s yogurt setting. Some responding homebrewers affirmed that they’d used the pressure cooker for sanitizing purposes, but no one seemed to have yet heated wort in the vessel.
Still curious, I called Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association and himself a homebrewer for more than 25 years.
“You could be definitely making the starter wort. That’s something that immediately came to mind,” he told me. “And you could probably brew an extract batch on the pressure cooker setting.”
(‘Extract’ refers to extract kits, which are the basic, first step in homebrewing. They save newbies time and effort by providing a malt extract syrup, meaning the brewer can skip the process of extracting sugar from grains.)
Anyhow, Glass and I continued to ruminate on the theoretical pluses and minuses of Instant Pot homebrewing. It would speed up the process, we figured, by applying lots of pressure and high temperatures.
“I’d imagine you’d be really speeding up the extraction of alpha acids from hops,” Glass said. “It would be one and done, because you’re obviously not opening [the lid] in the middle of it, but if you’re brewing a style that doesn’t require finishing hops, you could potentially speed up the brewing process.”
Actually fermenting in the Instant Pot might be a challenge because of all the carbonation/CO2 that yeast create, but it seems that the device could at the least be used to create starter wort. Glass doesn’t have an Instant Pot, but says that if someone gives him one, he would absolutely experiment with brewing beer in it.
“Could you produce something that actually tastes good?” he wonders. “Maybe.”