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Home brewing beer is a leap of faith. In the best case scenario, aspiring brewers do some research before firing up the kettle, but even after reading up on the process, there's still plenty of guesswork involved in the first few batches. The Brewbot is a new small scale brewing appliance that automates some of the trickier parts about brewing, such as exact water quantities and temperatures, brew times, straining grains, and transferring wort, with the help of an iOS app. The appliance handles most of the dirty work, lets the brewer know when it's time to add ingredients, or when the brew is ready to ferment.

If you're not convinced the Belfast-based team behind Brewbot is serious about their system, consider that the entire team recently relocated to Portland, Oregon to study with craft brewers.

There's still a month left to get your own Brewbot.

Beck's art label bottles have featured images from artists like M.I.A., Yoko Ono, Damien Hirst, and even Andy Warhol, but the beer giant's newest art label does something—it's a different medium altogether. Beck's enlisted the Auckland-based designers at Gyro Constructivists, borrowing the form of Thomas Edison's wax cylinders, to build a custom lathe cutter to record music onto a bottle. The result sounds better than the cylinders from Edison's day, but requires a rather uncommon player to play back. The playable bottle is an almost all-New Zealand production, featuring a noisy tune from Auckland's Ghost Wave.

As competition in the beer cooler gets tougher, breweries big and small are making changes to package design to catch more eyes. Already this year, beer titans Budweiser, Miller, Heineken, and Sam Adams have all announced major makeovers of their can and bottle looks. 

In South America, Brazilian beer brand Antarctica made a big change to its packaging just in time for this year's annual Carnivale by adding a scannable subway ticket directly onto its can's label. To support the program it worked with the city of Rio de Janeiro and installed "beer turnstiles" at major train stations that scan and collect cans for recycling in one simple motion. Riders simply save their last empty or find a discarded can for a free ride home. The campaign is a social initiative as well, intended to cut down on litter and drunk drivers. [via Adverblog]

Bottle openers aren't complex; they're some of the cruder gadgets in the kitchen drawer. But turns out they can be improved upon. Designer Brendan Ravenhill combined the rustic appeal and comfort of a piece of finished wood with the addition of a bent nail and two magnets to make the biggest change to the bottle opener since the addition of the keychain. The first magnet keeps the opener on the fridge door, the nail pries the bottle cap off, and the second magnet keeps the cap in place for easy disposal. 

Pick one up for your next party at AreaWare.  

Historically speaking, Swedes and Danes haven’t always been the closest of friends, so it’s always reassuring to see the two cultures play nice—especially in the name of good design. And beer. Danish brewery Mikkeller enlisted the help of Swedish design house Bedow to design a series of labels for its 2012 collection of seasonal beers. The end result is a minimalistic and uncomplicated—yet playful—take on Scandinavia’s changing seasons. Literally.

Case in point: Mikkeller’s current release, the Wild Winter Ale. Designed with bitter temperatures in mind, the label features an apple tree that with the help of heat-sensitive ink, loses its leaves as the bottle warms to room temperature. The early editions of the design shows a snowflake transforming into a sun and dandelion seeds morphing into raindrops. Who said drinking beer can’t be a high-design (and uniting) experience?