Father-son pair launches new iteration of homebrew hydrometer

chris and conner trebour

Chris, left, and Conner Trebour moved the business to Richmond in February. (BrewPerfect)

A year after rescuing a startup that was on the fritz, a local father-and-son duo has rebranded the company’s flagship product which caters to homebrewers.

Father Chris and son Conner Trebour last month unveiled BrewPerfect, the new incarnation of a WiFi-enabled hydrometer for homebrewers, a device they inherited after purchasing Newport News-based SensorShare in November 2016.

They’ve since moved the company to Richmond, into an office at 2103 Dabney Road.

Though their firm is built on homebrewers’ appetites for perfect beer, the Trebours aren’t necessarily beer guys themselves.

“I didn’t even drink before we bought the company,” Conner said.

“I’m a Miller Lite guy,” Chris joked.

They stumbled upon the venture after Chris’ Henrico-based software company, Covintus, had developed an app for SensorShare. After Sensorshare couldn’t pay its Covintus tab due to funding falling through, it instead asked for investment.

“I liked what they had, which wasn’t being managed,” Chris said.

SensorShare spent too much energy on fundraising and the hardware, he said. After taking over the company, the Trebours shifted its focus to include software in its offerings.

Initially dubbed The BeerBug, the BrewPerfect device provides real-time alcohol by volume (ABV), temperature and beverage density readings on batches of beer as they’re brewing.

Traditional hydrometers require homebrewers to scoop out a glass of beer and submerge in it a cylindrical, glass hydrometer. The tested brew, exposed to outside elements, is then discarded. Conner said in addition to offering accurate readings, BrewPerfect also cuts out wasted beer because it plugs directly into the fermentation vessel.

“The product monitors the brewing process and takes a reading every 20 minutes and collects data points on it,” he said.

The product is manufactured in Lynchburg and sells for $150 on BrewPerfect’s online store. Conner said it has 2,700 users in more than 30 countries.

SensorShare employs four people full time. Conner serves full-time as CEO, while Chris continues his day job as president of Covintus, which he co-founded in 2011.

The Trebours said the firm’s future plans include more products and increased distribution.

“In the first quarter of 2018 we’re planning to move into wine-making … and we’d like to add sales to homebrew shops,” Chris said.

“We’re never going to be huge, but we think it’ll be self-sustaining pretty quickly,” Conner said.

Meanwhile, the region’s biggest purveyor of homebrewing products is making moves of its own. Final Gravity Brewing Co. is expanding its taproom at 6118 Lakeside Ave. and moving its homebrew shop, Original Gravity, next door.

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