Almost 7 years ago Bill Mitchell left Microsoft to co-found PicoBrew, Inc. with brother Jim Mitchell, and engineer Avi Geiger with the goal of popularizing hyperlocal craft beer production with the world’s first fully automatic all-grain beer-brewing appliance – the Zymatic.
Fast forward a few years to PicoBrew’s third product, Pico, launched on Kickstarter to offer brewing beer at home so easy that anyone—even someone who has never brewed before—can create and enjoy amazing craft beer at home.
With Pico, beer lovers can discover great craft beer from breweries around the world and brew it easily, customized to their taste, using quality ingredients.
Many are calling this the “Keurig for Beer.” The Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded with $1,403,359.00 by 1,898 backers. With all their funding, the company is producing the machine and it’s PicoPaks (custom bundles of hops and grains) for sale from retailers such as Williams-Sonoma, Bloomingdales and Best Buy for $799.99.
The Pico uses similar technology that you’ll find in the Zymatic, but with reduced complexity and cost. The device itself measures 12 inches wide by 16″ high, weighs 31 pounds and produces five liters of fresh beer in about 2 hours. Grain-to-glass serving time is less than a week.
“Pico uses ready-to-brew PicoPaks from breweries around the world so customers don’t have to figure out where to acquire great grain and hops, and so even new brewers can brew great beer the first time,”
The PicoPaks are pre-packaged ingredient combinations available from brewers and breweries around the world.
While you can’t add your own ingredients, PicoBrew offers Freestyle PicoPaks that let you select the hops, grains, yeast, and amounts of each.
If you prefer more hops and less alcohol, Pico allows customization on any PicoPak. You can fine-tune each beer’s alcohol percentage or bitterness to your liking.
In addition to the PicoPaks from existing breweries, the company has in beta the BrewMarketplace, a giant “AppStore for beer,” where users can create their own recipes and earn royalties from every sale.
Brewers seeking to publish their beer on BrewMarketplace can join the PicoBrew Development Program (PDP) to receive the software and hardware tools and support necessary to convert their beers into PicoPaks.
The BrewMarketplace allows for small breweries with limited distribution areas to expand their reach on a much larger level. more than 60 craft breweries and over 350 homebrewers have signed up to produce PicoPaks available on its online BrewMarketplace to Pico owners.
But wait, there’s more…
You can add an attachment to your Pico for sous vide cooking. Due to high demand from the Kickstarer community for this feature – offered in 2013 on the Zymatic – PicoBrew added it to the Pico.
Sous vide is a gourmet cooking technique, made popular on shows like “Top Chef,” that entails the sealing of food inside vacuum bags then cooking them while submerged in a water-bath at relatively low cooking temperatures. Precise temperatures and the slower cooking allows moisture to be retained in the food while achieving very uniform heating and tender, delicately flavored results.
If you didn’t get gifts this past Christmas that match your hipster lifestyle, you may need to buy the Pico for yourself or leave a few hints for Valentine’s Day. Just keep in mind that while getting started is as easy as pressing “Brew” on the front of the machine, there’s a lot of clean-up on the back-end. Your Pico needs to be disassembled and cleaned after every batch.
Without testing the Pico I can’t give a personal testimony but I do think the company should offer a limited warranty longer than a year for an $800 appliance.