Brewie+ vs Picobrew Z

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Joedirt70

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https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/ViewExhibitReport.cfm?mode=Exhibits&RequestTimeout=500&calledFromFrame=N&application_id=JLdgqJqxCD+7ePP7bgRM5Q==&fcc_id=2ANZUB20

Click on the internal photos, that's my favorite! I don't know the actual changes but if you compare internal pictures of the brewie to the brewie+ you'll see the big difference. Whole new circuit board design, plus additional boards, better wiring, lack of weight sensors; looks like the new sensor might be in the rear back by the outlets which would explain the change to the shell and wiring going over there. Regardless it looks like they made a lot of changes, hopefully for the better.


I asked around and no one knew what CPU was in the current brewie however the Brewie+ shows an A13-SOM which hopefully is more powerful.
 
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Anyhowe

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Ok haha give me a min I'll post the link. I just kept googling brewie until I noticed something unusual, then I tracked it to the actual source and it ended up being a FCC filing.
This thread just got interesting...
 

Anyhowe

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I want to get into brewing my own beer. I figured this may be a good time to pull the trigger on one, and my wife gave me the okay!!!

I have about 10 days to make a decision to still get pre-order pricing. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hey teach what did you decide? Inquiring minds want to know...
 

JaleHouseBrew

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I purchased a Zymatic over the Brewie B20 late last year. The systems looked similar enough, but the consensus from the reviews I saw said that while neither system was perfect, Picobrew's customer service was significantly better.

I had an issue with my Zymatic's OLED screen that got progressively worse over 3 batches. Picobrew sent me a replacement unit which arrived in just a few days. I didn't have to send back my original unit first.

I've brewed 4 batches so far, and I'm a happy customer so far. The reason I bought the system was the ability to set up a batch, start it, and then walk away for a few hours. I brewed on Sunday, and here was my schedule:

  • Measured and loaded ingredients into the step filter in the morning: took about 20 min since I was using bulk ingredients, but could easily be done in less than 5.
  • Filled up my keg with 4.4 gallons of water (which yields 3.5 gallons of wort. 2.5 is just an average). Took about 15 min.
  • Started the batch and left the house for about 5 hours.
  • Came back home, connected my immersion chiller and put it in the sink with cold water. 10 min.
  • Put my son to sleep.
  • Used the circulate feature to auto transfer the wort from my keg to a fermenting bucket. 15 min.
  • Pitched yeast
  • Clean up involves dumping the hops from the hop cages, composting the spent grains, and then tossing the step filter equipment in the dishwasher. I also clean the brewing keg since I don't ferment in it.
  • Run a rinse cycle or two: 7 min each

As you can see, it's pretty easy to fit in a brew during a busy schedule if you do a little planning.

The overall process may be simpler for the brewie if chilling and measuring water is done for you. Can you use filtered water, or does it need to connect to a tap or hose directly?
 

Joedirt70

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I purchased a Zymatic over the Brewie B20 late last year. The systems looked similar enough, but the consensus from the reviews I saw said that while neither system was perfect, Picobrew's customer service was significantly better.

I had an issue with my Zymatic's OLED screen that got progressively worse over 3 batches. Picobrew sent me a replacement unit which arrived in just a few days. I didn't have to send back my original unit first.

I've brewed 4 batches so far, and I'm a happy customer so far. The reason I bought the system was the ability to set up a batch, start it, and then walk away for a few hours. I brewed on Sunday, and here was my schedule:

  • Measured and loaded ingredients into the step filter in the morning: took about 20 min since I was using bulk ingredients, but could easily be done in less than 5.
  • Filled up my keg with 4.4 gallons of water (which yields 3.5 gallons of wort. 2.5 is just an average). Took about 15 min.
  • Started the batch and left the house for about 5 hours.
  • Came back home, connected my immersion chiller and put it in the sink with cold water. 10 min.
  • Put my son to sleep.
  • Used the circulate feature to auto transfer the wort from my keg to a fermenting bucket. 15 min.
  • Pitched yeast
  • Clean up involves dumping the hops from the hop cages, composting the spent grains, and then tossing the step filter equipment in the dishwasher. I also clean the brewing keg since I don't ferment in it.
  • Run a rinse cycle or two: 7 min each

As you can see, it's pretty easy to fit in a brew during a busy schedule if you do a little planning.

The overall process may be simpler for the brewie if chilling and measuring water is done for you. Can you use filtered water, or does it need to connect to a tap or hose directly?
I was just looking at the new z and the only thing that has my interest is the picopaks so I can try some craft breweries, do you have any feedback on them? You can use manual or automatic water, you just select your option right before you start the brew.
 

JaleHouseBrew

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I was just looking at the new z and the only thing that has my interest is the picopaks so I can try some craft breweries, do you have any feedback on them? You can use manual or automatic water, you just select your option right before you start the brew.
I'm not that interested in Picopaks because I enjoy crafting and perfecting my own recipes, but it's a smart option for them to add. It adds flexibility and simplicity for the Z user to just push a pak in and hit go. Its also a solid ongoing revenue stream for them. It would be awesome to publish my own recipes, but I don't think the community is there yet for it to be a lucrative endeavor. If there were millions of Picobrewers sold, I could see it becoming a really cool addition to the system. Picobrew could host homebrewing competitions and promote the winners PicoPaks.
 

Anyhowe

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I was just looking at the new z and the only thing that has my interest is the picopaks so I can try some craft breweries, do you have any feedback on them? You can use manual or automatic water, you just select your option right before you start the brew.
They make awesome beer; plug and play. And are really quite close to the brewery versions IF you have good fermentation quality control. They call for distilled water. I assume they have added water additives back into the recipie based on this along with grain and DME. Small batches, which is good news or bAd news depending on your situation. For me 2.5 gal is my sweet spot.

The old Pico serving kegs are silly, and I would use pressurized cornies. I also see there are several aftermarket options now available. I don’t use mine any more. Got it on Kickstarter just because it was cool new tech and worth a try. I still have some Pico packs. I was going to keep the unit for the Still option. Now I can trade both in for $900 on the new Z. I will for sure use up the Pico pacs on the new unit just because.

If I had space/kitchen limitations, say like living in an apartment or on a boat then the Pico is an easy call. The new Z may make doubling up on the Pico packs an easy option. If so that would be cool if I wanted a specific brewery beer. Hmmm, maybe they could come out with Jumbo Packs for 2.5 gallon versions...
 
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Joedirt70

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They make awesome beer; plug and play. And are really quite close to the brewery versions IF you have good fermentation quality control. They call for distilled water. I assume they have added water additives back into the recipie based on this along with grain and DME. Small batches, which is good news or bAd news depending on your situation. For me 2.5 gal is my sweet spot.

The old Pico serving kegs are silly, and I would use pressurized cornies. I also see there are several aftermarket options now available. I don’t use mine any more. Got it on Kickstarter just because it was cool new tech and worth a try. I still have some Pico packs. I was going to keep the unit for the Still option. Now I can trade both in for $900 on the new Z. I will for sure use up the Pico pacs on the new unit just because.

If I had space/kitchen limitations, say like living in an apartment or on a boat then the Pico is an easy call. The new Z may make doubling up on the Pico packs an easy option. If so that would be cool if I wanted a specific brewery beer. Hmmm, maybe they could come out with Jumbo Packs for 2.5 gallon versions...
How many gallons are the paks made for?
 
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Math_Teacher

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Thank you for all the messages and information. It was pretty informative, but still is a hard decision for me. I like aviatorman's idea of getting a network of brewers together across state lines. This is interesting for me because I will be starting completely from scratch with no experience at all. Just being able to brew at the same time as someone else would alleviate some beginner stress.

Anyway, I wanted to let everyone know that I ended up pulling the trigger on the PicoBrew Z last night. I hope I made a good call. It sounds like both units are fairly similar with their own pros and cons. Big issue between the two seems to be customer service, but sounds like things may be evening out there as well. Only time can tell. I'm excited to receive my Z, but now I need to start looking for the other necessary items I will need to begin brewing. At least I have a few months to hunt for some good deals on the equipment and do some research without feeling time-crunched.

Again, thanks to everyone who has replied and provided their thoughts on the two systems.
 

Anyhowe

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The new Z may make doubling up on the Pico packs an easy option. If so that would be cool if I wanted a specific brewery beer. Hmmm, maybe they could come out with Jumbo Packs for 2.5 gallon versions...
And today I see they announce 2.5gal Z packs. I like Jumbo Pack but that is why I failed marketing.
 

BoilerInSoCal

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https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/ViewExhibitReport.cfm?mode=Exhibits&RequestTimeout=500&calledFromFrame=N&application_id=JLdgqJqxCD+7ePP7bgRM5Q==&fcc_id=2ANZUB20

Click on the internal photos, that's my favorite! I don't know the actual changes but if you compare internal pictures of the brewie to the brewie+ you'll see the big difference. Whole new circuit board design, plus additional boards, better wiring, lack of weight sensors; looks like the new sensor might be in the rear back by the outlets which would explain the change to the shell and wiring going over there. Regardless it looks like they made a lot of changes, hopefully for the better.


I asked around and no one knew what CPU was in the current brewie however the Brewie+ shows an A13-SOM which hopefully is more powerful.
great find! Looking at the internal pics, it appears that it contains a plate chiller. I've never used one, but I have read that you need to backflush those to ensure cleanliness. Do you think the cleaning tabs will be sufficient, since I doubt there is an ability to backflush?

I ordered the Z2, largely on the hope that the ability to brew 2 batches at one time will come to fruition. The biggest downsides I see to the Z2 (such as they are) are the need to chill and manually measure the water. Now the reports of better Brewie+ customer service is causing me to rethink things.
 

Joedirt70

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great find! Looking at the internal pics, it appears that it contains a plate chiller. I've never used one, but I have read that you need to backflush those to ensure cleanliness. Do you think the cleaning tabs will be sufficient, since I doubt there is an ability to backflush?

I ordered the Z2, largely on the hope that the ability to brew 2 batches at one time will come to fruition. The biggest downsides I see to the Z2 (such as they are) are the need to chill and manually measure the water. Now the reports of better Brewie+ customer service is causing me to rethink things.
Ive never had a bad experience with brewies customer service, but I've never had to deal with a problem. The only thing I've ever used it for is to recommend things, which I've always gotten a reply within 5 days. The original brewie has a plate chiller as well, works great. I've never had any issues with infections/off flavors from it. There are 3 different cleaning cycles, I'm pretty sure 2 of them involve the chiller. I've only heard of people baking the plate chillers? Regardless if you start developing issues with it later down the road disconnect it, bake and put back together, It's pretty accessible.

I preordered both the Z2 and the B+, I'm for sure keeping the brewie. I'll probably cancel the Z2, biggest reason for me is double the kegs and always requiring connection to the server and chilling. I've never used a picobrew product before so I don't know much about them. The real reason I preordered it was because of the half off price, Zpaks as well as the ability to use the picostill. I'm interested in extracting oils from the hops to reduce dry hopping time. But if the B+ is the improvement brewie says it is then I'll cancel the Z2 and maybe purchase the pico C to use the still.
 

BoilerInSoCal

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Ive never had a bad experience with brewies customer service, but I've never had to deal with a problem. The only thing I've ever used it for is to recommend things, which I've always gotten a reply within 5 days. The original brewie has a plate chiller as well, works great. I've never had any issues with infections/off flavors from it. There are 3 different cleaning cycles, I'm pretty sure 2 of them involve the chiller. I've only heard of people baking the plate chillers? Regardless if you start developing issues with it later down the road disconnect it, bake and put back together, It's pretty accessible.

I preordered both the Z2 and the B+, I'm for sure keeping the brewie. I'll probably cancel the Z2, biggest reason for me is double the kegs and always requiring connection to the server and chilling. I've never used a picobrew product before so I don't know much about them. The real reason I preordered it was because of the half off price, Zpaks as well as the ability to use the picostill. I'm interested in extracting oils from the hops to reduce dry hopping time. But if the B+ is the improvement brewie says it is then I'll cancel the Z2 and maybe purchase the pico C to use the still.
Thanks, Joe. Great to hear that the plate chiller is accessible (and that you haven't noticed any issues). I couldn't quite tell from the pics how easy it is to get into. This is getting interesting for me.

One other quick question, does Brewie have a setting for a whirlpool during cooling (e.g., chill to 180 and hold for 30-45 min, then chill the rest of the way)?
 

Joedirt70

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Thanks, Joe. Great to hear that the plate chiller is accessible (and that you haven't noticed any issues). I couldn't quite tell from the pics how easy it is to get into. This is getting interesting for me.

One other quick question, does Brewie have a setting for a whirlpool during cooling (e.g., chill to 180 and hold for 30-45 min, then chill the rest of the way)?

Well maybe i should correct myself. The plate chiller is under the bottom cover, it's easily accessible if you take that cover off. However, if you take the bottom cover off it might void warranty. I don't know how they would know if you've taken it off though as there's not tamper sticker or anything. Currently I don't think there is such a feature but I've seen this mentioned before. Regardless this is a easy feature they could add if it's not already available. Unfortunately I can't check for you for another month as I'm away for work currently, one more month to go thankfully.
 

Joedirt70

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Thanks, Joe. Great to hear that the plate chiller is accessible (and that you haven't noticed any issues). I couldn't quite tell from the pics how easy it is to get into. This is getting interesting for me.

One other quick question, does Brewie have a setting for a whirlpool during cooling (e.g., chill to 180 and hold for 30-45 min, then chill the rest of the way)?

heres an article about whirlpooling, currently they say "coming soon".
https://brewie.org/knowledge-center...-and-utilization-of-the-technique-with-brewie
 

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I have had my B20 since July of last year and it has worked fine. I never used it after a new firmware was released without giving some time for feedback on the FB group as it seemed the vast majority of issues were due to a couple versions of the firmware. My only gripe is the recipe editor. I hate entering on the small touchscreen and the phone app will not be much better. I really want to be able to use my PC to connect to it while I have Beersmith open and plenty of screen real estate to be able to see things. I hate wearing cheaters to see!
 

Joedirt70

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I have had my B20 since July of last year and it has worked fine. I never used it after a new firmware was released without giving some time for feedback on the FB group as it seemed the vast majority of issues were due to a couple versions of the firmware. My only gripe is the recipe editor. I hate entering on the small touchscreen and the phone app will not be much better. I really want to be able to use my PC to connect to it while I have Beersmith open and plenty of screen real estate to be able to see things. I hate wearing cheaters to see!

Agreed, I would have rather had the PC version up and running first vs the app. But hopefully they'll have both here soon.
 

sbartelski

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I cannot answer about 'Brewie" but I do have a Picobrew Zymatic (precursor to the Z). I have to say that I have had my ups and downs. But overall, I have had excellent customer service, including two free revisions (including shipment to and from their home base). In fact the last one happened a few months ago, 3 years into my ownership. They do not tout a lifetime warranty but they certainly act like it. Also, after a year my 'mash tun' started cracking, 2-3 weeks later a brand new one arrived on my doorstep, a $150 value. So even if the machines are close to equal in capabilities, the Pico customer service should tip the scales for you. Just FYI, they seem to have their customer service staff online during the weekend, my 'help' emails always seem to be answered in an hour or so, even on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Pros:
Can run 'start and forget' - although I prefer to keep an eye on things via the online brewhouse, just in case
Excellent customer service - Disney level
Simple automates rinse and cleaning
New Z can be expanded beyond 2.5 gallons (but not cheaply). OTOH I like not being forced to drink the same beer 5 gallons long. And whenI needed a 5 gallon (or more) batch, I have brewed twice in 12 hours and combined in one fermenter
Community support has developed workarounds, e.g. whirlpooling, etc.
Online brewhouse can be viewed on mobile devices, without an app, as it is a website

Cons:
Max of 4 hop timings in the boil (do you really need more?)
For quick cooling you should use the Corny cooler by Jaded ($120?). But using the standard Pico method, corny in a tub of ice, I am done in about 40-45 minutes. Pretty much set and forget to, except some ice replenishment about 2/3 way through
Their recipe software has a quirk in the advanced editor that has not been fixed yet, in spite of promises for many, many months. proably the price of having a product from a successful company. But as long as you know the quirk, it is relatively easy to workaround.


I want to get into brewing my own beer. I have looked into it before, but a overwhelmed with the process. I wanted to get something that automated most, if not all, of the process. The two machines that have really caught my eye are the new Picobrew Z and the new Brewie+. Both are newer versions of their older brewing machines. Both are on discount for pre-orders. I figured this may be a good time to pull the trigger on one, and my wife gave me the okay!!!

I want to know what the brewing community thinks on both machines for someone who literally knows nothing about brewing. Which system would be more reliable, best customer service, more hands off, what "extras" that I need to begin brewing (kegs, coolers, etc.), easier learning curves. Anything you can tel me would be much appreciated. I have seen mixed reviews on both, some saying the Brewie is the way to go, others saying PicoBrew is better. I'm looking for easiest "start and forget" process. I'm too busy to sit and stay for hours watching my beer brew. I have about 10 days to make a decision to still get pre-order pricing. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

squared

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I have a Brewie, a zymatic, and a Pico

I like all the machines and all of them have worked as advertised for me with a bit of learning with them of course.

Brewie, imo, is the lesser known device. I really like it’s concept and features. Luckily, I haven’t had any bad experiences with customer service or hardware failures that you can find from other users. contrary to popular belief, there are many Brewie users out there without any problems with their machines.

The zymatic is also a beautiful machine and when I needed customer support for a leaky step filter it was dealt with within an hour of submitting my help ticket! That’s the legendary support you hear about. I’m not a huge fan of using a corny to brew and clean but it does make fabulous wort. The recipe designer takes some time to get used to but so does Brewie I guess.

If I was to decide on only one, I’d take the well functioning Brewie at this point although I’m sure if I used a new Z2 I’d love the new interface and 5g batch capacity

They’re 2 completely different machines, both fun, both easy, both make great wort.
 

Mutant

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Not totally sold on PicoBrew. Try getting them to help resolve 'Fatal Error #1'
 

Mike Howard

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Fatal Error #1 is usually a fairly easy fix, as it is very common and can occur for a number of reasons. But alas, Picobrew is not efficient at resolving problems of any kind, unless you ship it back (notice I said problems, a leaking step filter is not a problem). Check out the Zymatic thread, ideally from page 40 and on, but the whole thread is an eye opener.

If you are still having issues with the Zymatic, check out the thread here, if you still can't solve it, post the problem on the Zymatic thread and we can usually get you back up and running fairly quickly.
 

kh54s10

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I'll start off by saying that I am not in the market for any of these expensive automated systems. I enjoy the manual way.

But, I have been following the Brewie since it was young. It seems like they rushed the thing to the market, had problems, made a new version that was had as many if not more problems than the first. Customer service is slow at best. The US seems to have a lot of units that are burning wires inside. There are also people adding fans to make it work.

I have been trying to figure out how widespread the burning wire problem is. It seems to be significant. The solution is that the company tells you to open it up, take some electrical measurements, they send you new parts to install. If your TV company told you to do that?????

Do your research to make a wise decision.
 

Gut Pile

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I'll start off by saying that I am not in the market for any of these expensive automated systems. I enjoy the manual way.

But, I have been following the Brewie since it was young. It seems like they rushed the thing to the market, had problems, made a new version that was had as many if not more problems than the first. Customer service is slow at best. The US seems to have a lot of units that are burning wires inside. There are also people adding fans to make it work.

I have been trying to figure out how widespread the burning wire problem is. It seems to be significant. The solution is that the company tells you to open it up, take some electrical measurements, they send you new parts to install. If your TV company told you to do that?????

Do your research to make a wise decision.
Not sure what it is about home brewers but we seem to be almost cucked / willing to put up w a certain level of abuse that is way beyond what a typical consumer should ever put up with or what is reasonable.
 

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Before the pros and cons, full honesty you need to know that I was one of the people who pre-ordered a Pico Z and i have previously owned a Pico Zymatic. I don't know what is going on there, but there is definitely something wrong. Production is continuously delayed and communication is inconsistent. Still now if you go on the website there is no exact delivery time. If you go into the picobrewers facebook group you can see a few people received their unit but it seems they already have issues. As for me it was too much i have cancelled my order and ordered a Brewie+.

So my pros and cons are based on the
- experience with the Pico Zymatic
- information from fellow picobrewers who received their Pico Z
- experience with the Brewie+

Short info about the two products:

Pico Z:
- you can choose from 2.5 Gallon, 5Gallon, 7.5 Gallon and 10 Gallon versions
- you can only use ingredients from the company (either a picopak recipe or custom-made picopak)
- you can create custom recipes and there are also ready recipes
- it has to be always online
- does everything until boiling, then you need to cool down the wort manually

Brewie+:
- only 5 Gallon version, but you can get more units for bigger output (I have a b20 and a brewie+ so i usually brew on both at the same time, reaching 10 Gallon output)
- you can use any kind of ingredients it is up to you (the company has its own recipe packs but it is not mandatory)
- you can create custom recipes and there are also ready recipes
- you can brew offline as well
- does everything including cooling

Pros and cons:

Why buy Pico Z or Brewie+?

Pico Z:

Pros:
- Automates most of the process (cooling is not included)
- Many ready recipe packs (there are some really cool recipes)
- Different sizes (2.5,5,7.5,10 Gallons)

Cons:
- Price is a lot higher (Pico Z2 cost 3,299 USD vs. Brewie 2,499 USD - both 5 Gallons)
- Picopaks are very expensive (even the 5 liter paks cost 30 USD, so 1 liter of beer is around 6 USD! If you do homebrew you know that it should be around 1 USD per bottle. This is in some cases more expensive than going to a shop)
- Can't use it offline, whenever the wifi goes away can't use the Pico
- Has to do cooling manually (with smaller batches this could be fine, but with 5 Gallons and above 5 Gallons this is a lot of work!)
- Lot of cleaning (it has many subparts that you need to clean and the malt gets stuck very often)
- No hard boil (it is up to you, but for me this is important)
- Low efficiency (there is always a lot of remaining sugars left in the malt, because you can't wash it through properly. this is not an issue if you are fine with low ABV beer, but it very much limits you as you won't be able to make real high ABV beer with this device, or you will end up with a lot lower amount)
- Super loud (its pump is really loud, my wife went crazy from it)
- Software bugs
- Manufacturing issues (see it in the Picobrewers group)

Brewie+:

Pros:
- Automates all steps of the process (including cooling)
- Also many ready recipe packs (plus they publish a recipe guide each month)
- You can use any ingredients (so it is a lot cheaper to brew about 1-2 USD vs 6 USD per liter)
- You can use it offline (this is again up to you, but for me it is important that i don't need to be always online)
- There is a developer mode that let's me control the pumps, heaters and pretty much everything (this is great because i can do stuff that is not in the standard recipe like manual sparging)
- Easy cleaning (still have to scrub the top of the tanks a little, but way easier than cleaning the Pico)
- Great tech support (Máté, their tech expert is very responsive)
- 75-80% efficiency

Cons:
- Only 5 Gallon version (although the company said they will have other versions later on)
- Software bugs (with Brewie+ haven't had any issues, only with the B20 but those were fixed too thanks to Máté)

All in all my personal experience and opinion is that there is no question that the Brewie+ is a better product that offers more features than the Pico Z and it is significantly cheaper (lower upfront cost and lower cost per brew). Even if you are looking for a bigger size (as the Brewie+ is only 5 gallons) you are still better off with 2 Brewie+ (2,499x2= 4998 USD), than with a Pico Z4 (7,299 USD).

But don't take my word for it! Go and check out the following facebook groups for more information and ask the users:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/134054920431176/ (Independent, Brewie B20 and Brewie+ owners but there are lot of people who are just interested in general)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BeerExplorersClub/ (Run by Brewie)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Picobrewers/ (Run by Picobrew)

PS: Sorry if my post became too long, tried to keep it short but that was the best i could do :)
 

chillandbrew

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I would love to see any links where you are seeing the changes between the Brewie and the Brewie+. I haven't been able to find anything.
I have both. The main differences:
- The Brewie+ has pressure sensors instead of weight sensors (more accurate water intake and better controls water amount in the two tanks)
- Different surface (not sure what exactly they used, but the Brewie+ machine's cover is a lot easier to clean if anything spills on it
- The Brewie+ is a few pounds lighter than the Brewie B20 (not sure how much, but definitely lighter indeed)
- The Brewie+ tank is a bit different and somehow it fully drains all liquid from the tank
- The Brewie+ lid is different, they have bigger holes (i guess so steam can exit easier)
- New electronics, as Joedirt70 said they changed it and it seems to work lot better

Let me know if you have any specific questions between the two versions, probably i can answer it :) Otherwise i think best is to talk with other Brewie users, there is a Brewie Owners group on Facebook.
 

Brewfreedom

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Before the pros and cons, full honesty you need to know that I was one of the people who pre-ordered a Pico Z and i have previously owned a Pico Zymatic. I don't know what is going on there, but there is definitely something wrong. Production is continuously delayed and communication is inconsistent. Still now if you go on the website there is no exact delivery time. If you go into the picobrewers facebook group you can see a few people received their unit but it seems they already have issues. As for me it was too much i have cancelled my order and ordered a Brewie+.
What kind of issues are they having? Don't have a dog in the fight as I sold my Zymatic and got a refund on the Z2 vaporware. Just here for the schadenfreude now. Question on the brewie - does it still require a waterline or can you fill it without involving a plumber?
 

cubsfan16

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Yes, I'm not sure if its the case for the Brewie but the Brewie + you can add water additions manually.

If you search the Brewie thread you can read in detail but issues on the B+ were from overheating wires mostly due to poor terminal connections. They seemed to get a bit of a handle on it by sending out replacement wires and terminals. They seem to take the opposite approach than the pico folks with repairs (at least for the Zymatic). They appear to be fine with the owner doing their own repairs if you so choose vs the pico group that has you ship back and forth. I have the Zymatic and Brewie + (after canceling my Z1) I know a lot of people had issues with their Zymatic that left a sour taste in their mouth but I haven't. I did have a drain pump go during a cleaning cycle but never lost a batch after dozens of batches and CS was always quick to respond. I did have to ship it back and they replaced both pumps and had it back to me in 2 weeks. I never had to purchase a replacement part either....that said I did go through a few step filters that were replaced for free. I like the Zymatic's recipe crafter better (even with the advance editor reset issue). In the Brewie's crafter everything has to be inputted on the devices screen or app (which is still a little buggy). The Brewie is super quite, no more constant pumping sound. Cleaning seems about equal between the two, though the Brewie is more automated. I kind of liked just pulling the step filter out and rinsing in the large sink and just worry about whats in the lines. Right now I have my Brewie plumbed to a cold water hose outlet but may end up adding a faucet adapter so I can plump hot water direct vs letting the machine heat up 50F ground water during the winter. Maybe the edge will go to Brewie if I make that change. A big plus for Brewie is there is no plastic so you can use PBW which is a big no no with the Zymatic or Z from what I hear. In my opinion the Brewie just seems like a better design and more finished than the Zymatic. That said, I have only completed on brew so we will see how the reliability is with this machine but the beer I did brew went without any equipment issues.
 

wh4tig0t

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Pico Z:
- you can only use ingredients from the company (either a picopak recipe or custom-made picopak)
- Can't use it offline, whenever the wifi goes away can't use the Pico
Two of your Cons here. First one is not correct. That’s the whole point of the Z vs their smaller units. Just like the zymatic, you can use regular ingredients. I look forward to doing both. The 2nd one is a non issue for I would think most people (especially on an Internet forum) considering you can use WiFi or hardwire.
 

MrJohn4

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Looking to see if anyone has new experiences with Brewie+ or Pico Z.

I am in the same exact position as OP. I am a couple weeks away from my Pico Z being delivered (pre-ordered), and I am wondering if I should cancel Pico Z and get the Brewie+ instead?

I have not brewed beer like the OP, so I am looking at this investment to get me going. As noted in many earlier comments, I do like the Brewie+ features on paper of (1) cooling and (2) auto cleaning (sanitized?). It seems Brewie+ would be less effort, but only if it works of course.


I wanted to know if anyone has some recent experiences with the Brewie+ and support they could share to see if it met their expectations? Or have there been a lot of problems without a lot of support?

Same question with the brand new Pico Zs (the threads imply these are fairly solid).

Thank you !
 

Brewfreedom

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If the Brewie can up their game on reliability and service game over Picobrew then pico is finished. Price point on the Z is fail compared to what brewie+ advertises. I won't touch either w a ten foot pole though. Been burned once w the Zymatic.
 

Mike Howard

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The jury is still out on the new Picobrew Z1's to see if they will actually fair better than the older Zymatics, which are notorious for being a cleaning nightmare and poorly engineered when it comes to the heat loop. They have tried to fix the HEX issues by changing to a water based closed loop HEX system, but I still see no way to maintain that closed loop, which will eventually fail.

For the price of that new Z1, I ordered a full BrewBoss 20 gallon system, which is hands down a better unit IMO (although in fairness, not fully automated). I'm interested to see who, in the end, wins out as the better unit Brewie or Pico.
 
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I dont know anything about Pico but want say that I am happy with my Brewie+ based on what I needed. I had a rather big system that I build myself before but because of family situation (read kids...) I got less and less time for brewing. I bought the Brewie+ since I wanted to put it on and leave...comming back to a chilled worth, yeast in fermenter, start automatic clean, wipe of lid and top of tank, put in dishwasher tablets and leave..brewing day finished (cleaning finished some hours later by itself). This is also what I got. If this is what you looking for and you want to spend the litle time you have on creating recipies I recomend the Brewie+. I have a 220v version.
 

sharpbeer

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I have a Z2 on pre-order right now, but as my ship date has been pushed back another month to 4/6, I have started exploring other options. I would be happy to cancel my order with Pico and get a refund to purchase a Brewie+ as it's only $1700, my Pico Z2 was $2000.

I do have a couple questions if anyone on here with experience with the automated brewing system would be willing to answer.

1. Can I dump water straight into the unit, or does it need to be filled water via the water inlet? As I live in an apartment, my only access to water is my kitchen and bathroom sink. If it can only be filled via the water inlet, I believe I would have to get some sort of water RO system for my kitchen and then a pump or hose that would connect the RO system to the Brewie+...?

2. Does the cooling water outlet have the same hose diameter as water inlet? If so, could I use that to cool it? Or would it need something with more pressure like a garden hose faucet? The benefit over the Z here would be that I could have the unit cool itself without have to buy a wort chiller, which I don't even know how I'd hook up in my apartment as all the wort chillers I've used in the past have garden hose fittings.

3. The lids don't seem to lock down, I live in an apartment, is it possible that if I were to leave the Brewie+ unsupervised that it could boil over, leaving a giant mess?

4. Can the Brewie+ make cold brew coffee, kombucha, sous vide as the Pico Z has been advertised to do?

5. How long would a regular brew day with a Brewie+ be?

6. Besides the setup, transfer to fermenter, is truly all automated?
 
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My answers below. Reminding that I have a 220v version which dont hae the overheating problem that man 120v seems to have.

1. Can I dump water straight into the unit, or does it need to be filled water via the water inlet? As I live in an apartment, my only access to water is my kitchen and bathroom sink. If it can only be filled via the water inlet, I believe I would have to get some sort of water RO system for my kitchen and then a pump or hose that would connect the RO system to the Brewie+...?

- You can do manual filling if you dont want to use the tapwater. I have very good water from my own well that I use in my hose so have never tried it but many people do manual filling to control water quality etc.

2. Does the cooling water outlet have the same hose diameter as water inlet? If so, could I use that to cool it? Or would it need something with more pressure like a garden hose faucet? The benefit over the Z here would be that I could have the unit cool itself without have to buy a wort chiller, which I don't even know how I'd hook up in my apartment as all the wort chillers I've used in the past have garden hose fittings.

- You should have normal pressure (tap water) for the cooling. There is only one water inlet (used both for colling and automatic filling but possible to chose automatic chilling but manual water filling). I have seen other people doing fairly complicated solution to save water (problem in many places) but since I dont have that problem I dont know anything about it. The benefit of that it has a wort chiller is that chilling fast is really important for a good wort and since I dont want to stand and watch the machine waiting for chilling its relly god that it handles chilling as well. I can come back 1h after chilling and tapping it into the fermenter and the machine has done the fast chilling at the right time.

3. The lids don't seem to lock down, I live in an apartment, is it possible that if I were to leave the Brewie+ unsupervised that it could boil over, leaving a giant mess?

- I always go for the max amount (When you make the recipie Brewie stops you from chosing amounts higher than recomended). and I have had overflow once when I did a very hopheavy IPA (comming foam/bubles out of the boiling lid) but it stayed at the lid. Besides from that nothing. If you fill youself make sure you dont overfill because then it will be a mess for sure..:)

4. Can the Brewie+ make cold brew coffee, kombucha, sous vide as the Pico Z has been advertised to do?

You can do sous vide at least (dont know about the rest) but frankly I would never mix the food stuf into my Brewie. Sous vide is much easier with just a pot and a $9.99 sous vide heater.....;-)

5. How long would a regular brew day with a Brewie+ be?

- It depends but I like to do a fair amount of tem increases (5-6) to tap into diffrent enzymes and about 30 min in each step followed by a 60 min sparge. It takes the Brewie about 30 min to heat up my tapwater (6-8 C) for the first step and probably (seldom there to watch) 30 min to cool down. Ad on some pauses between program steps I would guess it takes 6h from start to finish. Transfer to fermenter and cleaning lid is 30 min and cleaningprogram (I alsways do a big cleaning program after every use) is 2h. So all in all probably 8-10h with me being at the machine for max 1h (half before start to crush/weight etc. and half hour to transfer to fermenter and clean lid/topp) .

6. Besides the setup, transfer to fermenter, is truly all automated?[/QUOTE]

- If setup includes crushing malt etc. yes its doing the rest. It follows pretty well the video they have out (promotion video).

So what is the problems with the Brewie?
-The 120V have a lot of heating problems (after what I can read on this forum)
-Efficency is lower than the way I did before (around 55-65% compared to 85% in my manual setup) making it harder to make big batches (20l) of high ABV beers.
-I make much more beer now (putting it on before I go to work and finishing when I getting home) and even though I give away a lot I am starting to gain weight...:)

Automatic brewing machines is a very big investment and it dosent make you a better brewer but for the right brewer it will save loads of time and make recipies very easy to repeat (and thereby improve).

Best regards
Fredrik
 

Still Brewn

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I have contemplated cancelling my z for the brewie as the brewie seems to look better on paper. Problem is that the features are only that, on paper. Between the spamming by brewie and lack of working machines I doubt it's worth the risk until they have an established working machine. Also how the brewie company is treating currently b20 users has me concerned as many of them have had faulty machines and need to pay to upgrade to this new unit when they haven't even got the old unit working. Company hasn't taken care of essentially those who put their necks out for the company to even be established, so why would I expect them to do any better for a new customer.

Zymatic seems to be fairly well developed although I worry about the ability to make heavy beers. I haven't had a pico beer yet either so still makes it a little bit of a gamble for me to go with the z2.

I have fallen out of this hobby some in the recent couple years due to recent grad school and now raising 3 kids. I am hopeful that an automated system like z or brewie will get me brewing a lot more often. I still have my electric 10 gallon rims unit that I can use when I want to make beer more traditionally as well. In the end whichever system allows me to brew more often is what I will have.
After your pm I thought I would give an update like you asked. I pre ordered the Z2 on the last day of the half price pre-order sale almost a year ago. With the number of orders they got I did some simple math and calculated that with x number of units built a day I could get mine in late September if they started shipping in July as they were saying. I emailed them about this and asked for a rough estimate on delivery, for measurements, plug specs, working offline, and a few other things. I got a response a few days later with basicly canned answers regurgitating what was on their website which, at the time, had different answers in different places depending on what pages you were looking at. I emailed them back at some point and called out their errors (we were redesigning our kitchen around the Z2 at the time) and got the same canned answers but the said they would fix it so they all matched.
July comes along and they start getting a little fishy about delivery and email updates.... launch time comes and goes and email updates all but disappear but just enough to keep me from jumping ship. September. I finally get an answer about the plug that will be used on the Z2... October..... november..... My new kitchen is done with new 30 amp 240v electrical ready to plug in my Z2..... new delay. Mid november I happen to stumble across an article comparing the Zseries, Brewie and Brewbot..... The research is on. Brewbot is out right off the bat just because of the size. At the time Brewie is winning just because I still didn't have a direct answer about internet connection requirements. I email them, again and get the answer I was not looking for (i want to be able to take my brewing equipment with me to my cabin during the summer) After all of this I'm still not convinced because of the bigger size of the Brewie and I just rebuilt my kitchen around the Z2. Then I stumble across HBT.... lots of nastiness going on here about delivery, lack of delivery, errors, customer service, people getting on each other's nerves, but no side by side comparisons, well because you guessed it, new delay.
I talk to my oldest son because he is going in on it with me because I'm not allowed to brew without an assistant (babysitter) and he is the only one that brews with me when he is home on leave. We end canceling the Z and getting the Brewie within a week. I would love to compare the 2 side by side but if they are not even on the final design yet..... You can read about the errors and mis adventures in the Brewie thread here https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/brewie.506703/page-36

I will give you the highlights
Delivery - a few days fast and free from amazon
Check for damage before accepting
Unpackaging - read instructions
Placement - will not fit on counters with upper cabinets get yourself a cart. If you have a counter it will fit on the top will sit about 4 1/2 feet above the floor so if you are short you may have problems. My counters are all an inch higher than normal because all of my family is 6' or taller except the wife who is 5'4". If you get a cart it will need to be 13"x26" with no upward facing lip on it to allow for air flow. The feet slide across smooth surfaces very easy so you may (will) want to get a rubber mat for it to sit on or drill holes to a 1/16th" to 1/8th" depth where the feet will sit so it doesn't slide off the cart.
Plugging in - you must have a 20 amp circuit for the Brewie. The outlet must be rated for 20 amps or it will overheat.
Internet- plug in the internet cable if you are going to use a wired connection before you press the power button. This is highly recommended otherwise you may get stuck repeating first clean and calibration more than once, and calibration is a pain in the older versions of the software.
Turning on - .the older version says you must press and hold the button until you hear a beep,the machine no longer beeps and you can now just press the button and it will start. After it is finishes booting.
Wireless connection - If you can get to the menu go to WiFi and set up your connection. If you cant get to the menu follow on screen instructions cancel them if you can to get to the wifi menu the required things will come back up when your machine is fully updated. After your connection is set up Power down the machine by pressing and holding the power button until the "Are you sure" screen pops up. Let it power down fully then press the power button, watch for the version number, as of this writing Feb 28 2019 it is at version 3.1.1 . Repeat this process of power up and power down until you reach the current version, go to brewie.org to get the latest.
Wired Connection - press the power button, watch for the version number as of this writing Feb 28 2019 it is version 3.1.1 offer it is fully booted and is giving you instructions for calibration or first clean press and hold the power button until you get the "Are you sure" pop-up and click yes. Wait for it to fully power down and repeat the process until the version number you are looking for is on the screen during boot up.
First clean - double check that all of the plugs are out of the machine and follow on screen instructions.
Settings - you will want to choose these before you move on ... gallons, grams, liters, ounces
Calibration - the Brewie+ uses a pressure sensor instead of a weight sensor. Your machine is not nearly as sensitive to movement as the ones with the weight sensor. With that in mind remember it will still get out of whack and should be calibrated periodicly. The things that will alter the calibration are buildup of gunk on the sensor. It is in the outlet tube of the boil tank and therefore everything that goes into your machine goes by this sensor except the cold water for cooling. The other thing that will easily alter the calibration - change in elevation. If you travel with you Brewie you must do a calibration before brewing especially if you have a major change in elevation ( say coastal city to denver) because this changes the calibration in 2 ways 1. the higher you go the less gravity is pulling down on the water. 2 the higher elevation the less atmospheric pressure pressing down on the water, the change for a 5 gallon batch of beer for gravity alone is about 1 3/4 cups per 5 gallon batch (if my math is correct) and that's not counting the atmospheric change which in Denver it is about .82 of sea level. And a 20% change in water could be disaster for your brew and brew area.
Now we get to the area where a little there have been issues mashing and boiling, the company assembling the machines used the wrong spade connectors on the heating elements and it was causing a runaway heat induced resistance problem resulting in a cascading series of failures in each machine. This has been addressed and they allowed us to fix our own or send it in to be fixed. This wiring issue also revealed the need for ventilation at the base of the mash tun and boil tank to remove excess heat from the area. They have addressed this although I have not seen a unit with the changes. Those of us that are go getters took it upon ourselves to make alterations before Brewie decided what to do about it and we installed secondary cooling fans near the heating element connections. You can see the mods in the electric brewing, Brewie forum.
I also had one other problem with my machine which you can read about there and that was a scratch on one of my circuit boards Brewie had no problem replacing it even though i made the repair required to get it working again and it may have even been my fault.

Lastly I will say that without this machine I would only be brewing a couple of times a year if I'm lucky. I have issues of falling asleep and this machine had no problem keeping on track I also have issues with my balance and since I don't have to move 5 gallons of boiling wort it is not an issue of getting burned. I also have issues of dropping things with my right arm well that will still suck, can't have everything! Since it arrived the first week of December I have already brewed 5 times and am ready to brew this weekend.... everyone wants my beer they just don't want to spend 5 hours babysitting a grown man. If I wasn't stuck at home most of the time the issues I had might be a problem for me but Brewie has been great and has addressed everything in a timely manner to my satisfaction and they are always working on improvements to the machine, software and firmware..... 2 hardware updates since I got my machine and 1 firmware and 2 software updates.
 

Anyhowe

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After your pm I thought I would give an update like you asked. I pre ordered the Z2 on the last day of the half price pre-order sale almost a year ago. With the number of orders they got I did some simple math and calculated that with x number of units built a day I could get mine in late September if they started shipping in July as they were saying. I emailed them about this and asked for a rough estimate on delivery, for measurements, plug specs, working offline, and a few other things. I got a response a few days later with basicly canned answers regurgitating what was on their website which, at the time, had different answers in different places depending on what pages you were looking at. I emailed them back at some point and called out their errors (we were redesigning our kitchen around the Z2 at the time) and got the same canned answers but the said they would fix it so they all matched.
July comes along and they start getting a little fishy about delivery and email updates.... launch time comes and goes and email updates all but disappear but just enough to keep me from jumping ship. September. I finally get an answer about the plug that will be used on the Z2... October..... november..... My new kitchen is done with new 30 amp 240v electrical ready to plug in my Z2..... new delay. Mid november I happen to stumble across an article comparing the Zseries, Brewie and Brewbot..... The research is on. Brewbot is out right off the bat just because of the size. At the time Brewie is winning just because I still didn't have a direct answer about internet connection requirements. I email them, again and get the answer I was not looking for (i want to be able to take my brewing equipment with me to my cabin during the summer) After all of this I'm still not convinced because of the bigger size of the Brewie and I just rebuilt my kitchen around the Z2. Then I stumble across HBT.... lots of nastiness going on here about delivery, lack of delivery, errors, customer service, people getting on each other's nerves, but no side by side comparisons, well because you guessed it, new delay.
I talk to my oldest son because he is going in on it with me because I'm not allowed to brew without an assistant (babysitter) and he is the only one that brews with me when he is home on leave. We end canceling the Z and getting the Brewie within a week. I would love to compare the 2 side by side but if they are not even on the final design yet..... You can read about the errors and mis adventures in the Brewie thread here https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/brewie.506703/page-36

I will give you the highlights
Delivery - a few days fast and free from amazon
Check for damage before accepting
Unpackaging - read instructions
Placement - will not fit on counters with upper cabinets get yourself a cart. If you have a counter it will fit on the top will sit about 4 1/2 feet above the floor so if you are short you may have problems. My counters are all an inch higher than normal because all of my family is 6' or taller except the wife who is 5'4". If you get a cart it will need to be 13"x26" with no upward facing lip on it to allow for air flow. The feet slide across smooth surfaces very easy so you may (will) want to get a rubber mat for it to sit on or drill holes to a 1/16th" to 1/8th" depth where the feet will sit so it doesn't slide off the cart.
Plugging in - you must have a 20 amp circuit for the Brewie. The outlet must be rated for 20 amps or it will overheat.
Internet- plug in the internet cable if you are going to use a wired connection before you press the power button. This is highly recommended otherwise you may get stuck repeating first clean and calibration more than once, and calibration is a pain in the older versions of the software.
Turning on - .the older version says you must press and hold the button until you hear a beep,the machine no longer beeps and you can now just press the button and it will start. After it is finishes booting.
Wireless connection - If you can get to the menu go to WiFi and set up your connection. If you cant get to the menu follow on screen instructions cancel them if you can to get to the wifi menu the required things will come back up when your machine is fully updated. After your connection is set up Power down the machine by pressing and holding the power button until the "Are you sure" screen pops up. Let it power down fully then press the power button, watch for the version number, as of this writing Feb 28 2019 it is at version 3.1.1 . Repeat this process of power up and power down until you reach the current version, go to brewie.org to get the latest.
Wired Connection - press the power button, watch for the version number as of this writing Feb 28 2019 it is version 3.1.1 offer it is fully booted and is giving you instructions for calibration or first clean press and hold the power button until you get the "Are you sure" pop-up and click yes. Wait for it to fully power down and repeat the process until the version number you are looking for is on the screen during boot up.
First clean - double check that all of the plugs are out of the machine and follow on screen instructions.
Settings - you will want to choose these before you move on ... gallons, grams, liters, ounces
Calibration - the Brewie+ uses a pressure sensor instead of a weight sensor. Your machine is not nearly as sensitive to movement as the ones with the weight sensor. With that in mind remember it will still get out of whack and should be calibrated periodicly. The things that will alter the calibration are buildup of gunk on the sensor. It is in the outlet tube of the boil tank and therefore everything that goes into your machine goes by this sensor except the cold water for cooling. The other thing that will easily alter the calibration - change in elevation. If you travel with you Brewie you must do a calibration before brewing especially if you have a major change in elevation ( say coastal city to denver) because this changes the calibration in 2 ways 1. the higher you go the less gravity is pulling down on the water. 2 the higher elevation the less atmospheric pressure pressing down on the water, the change for a 5 gallon batch of beer for gravity alone is about 1 3/4 cups per 5 gallon batch (if my math is correct) and that's not counting the atmospheric change which in Denver it is about .82 of sea level. And a 20% change in water could be disaster for your brew and brew area.
Now we get to the area where a little there have been issues mashing and boiling, the company assembling the machines used the wrong spade connectors on the heating elements and it was causing a runaway heat induced resistance problem resulting in a cascading series of failures in each machine. This has been addressed and they allowed us to fix our own or send it in to be fixed. This wiring issue also revealed the need for ventilation at the base of the mash tun and boil tank to remove excess heat from the area. They have addressed this although I have not seen a unit with the changes. Those of us that are go getters took it upon ourselves to make alterations before Brewie decided what to do about it and we installed secondary cooling fans near the heating element connections. You can see the mods in the electric brewing, Brewie forum.
I also had one other problem with my machine which you can read about there and that was a scratch on one of my circuit boards Brewie had no problem replacing it even though i made the repair required to get it working again and it may have even been my fault.

Lastly I will say that without this machine I would only be brewing a couple of times a year if I'm lucky. I have issues of falling asleep and this machine had no problem keeping on track I also have issues with my balance and since I don't have to move 5 gallons of boiling wort it is not an issue of getting burned. I also have issues of dropping things with my right arm well that will still suck, can't have everything! Since it arrived the first week of December I have already brewed 5 times and am ready to brew this weekend.... everyone wants my beer they just don't want to spend 5 hours babysitting a grown man. If I wasn't stuck at home most of the time the issues I had might be a problem for me but Brewie has been great and has addressed everything in a timely manner to my satisfaction and they are always working on improvements to the machine, software and firmware..... 2 hardware updates since I got my machine and 1 firmware and 2 software updates.
Wow. FWIW. I got my Z. Screwed the base to the main unit. Turned it on. Added my WiFi code. Connected lines to a bucket. Pressed rinse, it did. I then connected the keg with the two ball locks, put the screens to the step filter, added ingredients and pressed brew. It did.

Edit. I should add the rest. After it brews I put a corney cooler in that same keg and it cools in 5 minutes. I then add yeast and wait 7-10 days. I then pressure transfer from that keg into another keg to serve. Carb and enjoy.
 
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Still Brewn

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Wow. FWIW. I got my Z. Screwed the base to the main unit. Turned it on. Added my WiFi code. Connected lines to a bucket. Pressed rinse, it did. I then connected the keg with the two ball locks, put the screens to the step filter, added ingredients and pressed brew. It did.

Edit. I should add the rest. After it brews I put a corney cooler in that same keg and it cools in 5 minutes. I then add yeast and wait 7-10 days. I then pressure transfer from that keg into another keg to serve. Carb and enjoy.
Is that the Z2? Or are you comparing a Halfpint system to a 5 gallon system? And after being able to brew the last 3 months of the last 5 years and waiting for 6 months from expected delivery, almost a year from order I'll take the previous hassle I've had over waiting for another 3 months.
 
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