PicoBrew is hoping to do for home-brewed beer what Keurig has done for coffee. It tried previously with the Zymatic, but the $2,000 price tag, intimidating size and complexity limited its appeal. Really the Zymatic ended up being for professional brewers to experiment on and for people with deep pockets looking to dip their toe into home brewing with the least amount of effort possible.
The company’s new machine, the Pico attempts to address some of those hurdles. First off, it’s dropped the price dramatically. If you move quickly to pick it up through the Kickstarter campaign launching today it will only cost you $500, though it will climb to $1,000 at retail. Second the Pico is roughly half the size of the Zymatic, and can actually fit on an average counter-top. Though, does still take up a significant amount of space and probably wouldn’t find a permanent home next to your coffee machine.
Most importantly though, it greatly reduces the complexity of making beer. You don’t build a recipe with an app or order individual packets of hops or pounds of grain. Instead you order PicoPaks: pre-packaged boxes of grain and hops that you simply insert into the machine. Inside a scanner reads a barcode on the top and downloads the recipe from PicoBrew’s database.
You can adjust the ABV (alcohol by volume) and the bitterness with a simple turn of the dial, but otherwise everything is automated. Even the idea of tweaking those parameters is hiding their inherent complexity. What you’re really doing is changing the timing of your hop additions, the boil time and your mash temperatures.
At the end of the day the Pico isn’t terribly different from something like a Nespresso. The goal is to deliver a home-made craft beer product with as little effort as possible. It’s never going to be the same as firing up a kettle in your kitchen and filling a carboy with wort your boiled on your own stove. But then again, the Pico should make less of a mess.
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