REVIEW: PLAATO Digital Airlock

Review by Graeme Stewart

‘The BIG seller for me is that it’s still showing fermentation action (albeit very slow) at a stage where I’d normally be decanting it, which was a real “Eureka” moment’ 

At first glance the box hints at its Nordic design, and gives little away, but it suggests quality as does the item on opening. It contains the PLAATO airlock, a 3m USB cable for powering it and a weblink to get you registered and going. You won’t fail to notice that the airlock’s a beast compared to a standard bubbler (which is 6cm). This stands proud of the fermenter by a whopping 14cm. If you use a fermentation chamber, you’ll have to take this into account along with the required power cable.

The app is available for both Apple and Android, and free to download, and this where the fun starts. Once fitted and powered up it runs you through the connection to your wi-fi (which you only need do once) and it’s brew time. I tested it on a Dogbolter clone using a live British ale culture, got everything into the fermenter and watched. Overnight it kicked off and the real fun begins…

Plaato screenshots

Graeme’s screenshots from the PLAATO app

There’s a wealth of info on the PLAATO website about the unit and the data it generates. You’ll see what you get from the screenshots of the app, which updates rapidly (virtually, but not quite real-time) and can be accessed from anywhere your phone is connected. This removed the usual anxiety about what’s happening in the fermenter and avoids the need to ‘take a peek’. It gives you bubble rate and monitors temperature, gravity changes and fermentation activity and provides all the data in a user-friendly form.

It engenders a real interest in the process and allows tweaks to temperature to assist fermentation, and importantly, lets you know when it’s over. It really makes you think about the fermentation process. I love gadgets, but I am no scientist, however the setup and use seem pretty intuitive and should appeal to both ‘techies’ and ‘newbies’ alike. It provides a huge amount of data that would prove really useful in either replicating (i.e. clones or repeat batches) or developing brews.

The PLAATO airlock compared to a regular one (image: Graeme Stewart)

All in all I’m really impressed with it. Whilst essentially a fairly large outlay at $129 (around £90, at time of writing), I think it’s justifiable because:

  1. It provides data in a manner that doesn’t confuse. It’s clearly well thought out and would suit novices and experienced users equally.
  2. It accurately and safely removes any doubt as to what is happening in the fermenter at any time, and clearly shows when the yeast is done.
  3. You can access it anywhere you get a phone signal. Which is pretty cool.
  4. Trialling it alongside the temperature sensor of my Inkbird, it’s spot on for accuracy, and I suspect (but can’t prove yet) the other data will be on a par for accuracy.
  5. The website has a wealth of info and helpful tips to make the most of the unit.

In short, would I buy one? Hell, yes, I love it!


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Above image & feature Image: PLAATO