Brewie+ vs Picobrew Z

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alaric10000

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I won't touch Pico's delivery "schedule" and their somehow-still-getting-worse! communication about delays, but the Zymatic or Z1 isn't really a 2.5 gallon system, it's a 9 lbs of grain system at up to ~65% efficiency. I've brewed almost as many 5 gallon batches on my refurb Zymatic as I have 2.5 gallon batches, and at least half of those 2.5 gallon batches were intentionally small to mess around with lavender or mulling spices or some other adjunct. So it more depends on how high of a gravity you typically go for.

Even if I had Bezos money, I wouldn't ever buy a Z2+ to make bigger batches of the exact same beer, only to make a few different beers on the same day or to test several variations of the same beer.

I'm hopeful that Brewie can prove some stability after they fix this round of wiring and ventilation problems, because I do love my Zymatic and haven't personally had a bad experience with support like a couple of the folks over in the other thread, but Pico could really use some competition to give them some incentive to overhaul their marketing and software dev.
 
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Lbarouf

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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!
I would consider the Grandfather or maybe even the robobrew as well. Less relying on a SAAS platform for it to work. All of those are electrical appliances that produce wort, reliably (fairly more than other methods) and make it somewhat easy to reproduce your recipes for the similar amount (volume) of beer. The Grandfather has bells and whistles as well, like a bluetooth module to track the progress, sleeves, glycol chiller, fermenter, sparge water heater....

I have the Pico S, and I also brew all grain batches a more traditional way. The larger batches that I make over and over again, I buy my grains and do them over burners. Smaller batches or other beers, testing, or what, on the Pico. Beer goes into a 3 tap, 5.6 cu ft kegerator.

I am thinking of replacing my classic equipment with an all electrical. Grandfather seems like a great option for me. If you want to brew 5 gal batches, and like to use your own grains and make/modify your own recipes... those should be considered in my opinion.

Hopefully this helps guide a bit.
 

Tim H

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I took the backward approach to get into brewing beer...... Renovated my downstairs basement with a custom bar (wine fridges, beverage fridges, 4 beer taps through the wall to my utility room) and realized that buying kegged craft beer was just freaking expensive to keep 2-3 on rotation all the time. This prompted me to look at "automated" systems like the Grainfather, only to realize that it's not that automated after all. Like everyone else here, the Brewie seemed like the hands-down winner on paper, but I had a hard time finding relevant information. After spending too many hours creeping through the internet (and maybe too many beers), I ordered the B+ on Amazon(gotta love that instant gratification). The box was in good condition, and the product was really well packaged (I guess there were so many issues with damaged units that they halted shipping until it was fixed). I pulled it out of the box, plugged it in, and started to calibrate.

One of my friends was moving to Colorado and offered to sell me his old Grainfather and brewing equipment for $300 (he didn't want to deal with it for the move). Without hands-on help (beyond the support of youtube) I tried brewing my first beer on the 4th of July using the Grainfather.... needless to say, it is a steep learning curve figuring out all this stuff at once... When I finally had everything milled adequately, with the correct volumes of water at the right temperatures, it was just too late in the day to press on. I started back up the next day and was met with harsh words from my wife because I was "dicking around with brewing beer" instead of spending time/helping with our brand new daughter. Arguably, working, getting my MBA, and being a brand new parent is probably the wrong time to pick up a new hobby..... I ended up dumping out the mash in Grainfather and calling it a day (my ratios were out of whack with too much mash water for 17 pounds of grain, and I couldn't justify the extra time trying to boil it down). Was this a case of first-time failure? 100%.... Did I learn some valuable lessons that will make my next batch finishable? Sure did... Will I use the grainfather again? Yeah- it is a cool machine... Do I have extra time to mess around and keep trying? Nope.... not unless I decided to brew beer at night.


Yesterday I bought all the ingredients to brew a pre-programmed recipe on the Brewie and decided to give it a try (after my magnificent failure several days ago). I hooked it up to my filtered water supply, added the grains and hops, pressed the start button, and walked away. The machine failed to detect the water inlet hose and asked me to reconnect and try again. From what I understand, this is a high water-pressure issue, so I turned it down and reset the recipe. It spent the next 6 hours brewing while I made dinner, took care of some homework, and hung out with our daughter for a while. After it finished, I drained the wort into my fermenter, threw in some dishwasher tablets, and went to bed while it cleaned itself.

This is only my first brew, so there are limitless opportunities for this to stop working or break down in the future. I didn't buy this because I like to brew beer..... I bought this because I only sorta-want to brew beer right now. I don't have the skill, and I really don't have the time. From what I have seen, this delivers what the machine promised. I really hope that this doesn't change because I like the concept, and I really appreciate the convenience. I only spent the time to write this whole thing out because it seems like people who like to brew beer (most people here) look down on fully automated systems, and everyone that had a horrible experience with the B20 feels taken advantage of because of the lack of support and slow response time. I think that the Brewie meets my needs for now, and gives me the ability to learn how to brew beer as I go along.

Don't buy it for the wrong reasons and expect it to be something it's not. I bought it to make a decent batch of beer with minimal effort.
 
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