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Sebastian Weetabix

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You STILL have units that were sold in December and January.
As a result, we ALL will be covered until that year warranty is up.
I am not worried in the slightest because there ain’t a damn thing I can do about it either way.
To paraphrase Charlie Papazian, “Relax and make some homebrew!”
 

Trevor Mack

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Yeah I'm not worried either. Just wanted to share the known data we have.

It also doesn't come as a surprise the Picobrew isn't very transparent that they might not even know what is going to happen... The campaigns were the same roadblocks and delays were only announced months later to us.
 

Werew0lf

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Recent news is that a bunch of folks that bought units, accessories and paks once Picobrew full knowingly entered receivership (legally meaning they don't know what will happen on the other side) have been given refunds for select hardware (that produced, designed or specific to Picobrew machines) and unused/unbrewed paks. Guess those that went on a brewing spree are a bid sad they missed out on some $$.

Anyways, if they refunded since say February I'm guessing these machines which aren't asked to be sent back are then off the hook for supporting for a year as they at this point are "sorry we shouldn't have sold this to you, but we also don't want them back" type of "gifts" vs legally bound sales/purchases.
I can attest to this. They didn't state exactly why but I'm guessing the reason for the refund is they do not plan on honoring the warranty, since they are now defunct. Although it's unfortunate, it does ease the blow because the warranty is the only reason I bought a new Pico Pro directly from PB. I guess I'll use it til it dies...
 

Sebastian Weetabix

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Has it not occurred to anyone that to take units back would mean that another complete inventory would have to be certified?
There is no PicoBrew to return anything to.
Since there is a firm date for the auction sale, accepting returns would mean that some units would have to be marked “USED”.
It’s not worth the extra expense to take any units back.
 

jimdkc

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I ordered my Pico C on March 1. Got this email last week:

Dear Jim,

We wanted to provide you an update on your recent order(s) XXXXX.

Your order was placed during the period in which PicoBrew was under WA State Receivership proceedings.

The receivership has elected to refund the purchase price of PicoBrew hardware (Pico Pro, Pico C, PicoFerm, PicoStill, Z Series) and select PicoBrew accessories in addition to any unbrewed PicoPaks you may have purchased. These items are yours to keep and continue enjoying.

Your refund has been processed to the original payment method. Please allow up to 10 days for your refund to appear depending on your method of payment.

We deeply apologize for not being able to communicate information during this time and appreciate your understanding as we work through the best way to continue supporting our customers and community as a whole.

We understand you may have additional questions and we hope to share updates with you in the coming days.

Please use the links below for details on your refunded order, or simply see what's currently brewing near you.

We’ll be in touch soon, and thanks for being a part of this amazing community.

The PicoBrew Team
The refund sat as "pending" in PayPal for about a week, and cleared this morning.
 

Knightshade

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Just in case you check activity on the forum more often than email. You might want to check, formal communications was just sent out.
 

Trevor Mack

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And for those that don't subscribe to Picobrew email due to the amount of junk or otherwise. Here is the email in full text for you.

TLDR; sorry for not updating you legally we couldn't (at least between February and may 5th... No excuses for the 17 days of silence since...), receivership is finished though our new owner is still looking at potential partnerships and/or business buyout opportunities. Your machine will still work for now, but no promises they will forever.

To our valued brewing community and customers,

We recognize we have left you with a lot of questions and uncertainty about our future over the past weeks. We’d like to start by giving like you an update of what we know today in our evolving journey and sincerely thank you for your patience.

PicoBrew’s mission over the past 10 years has been to revolutionize the homebrewing and beverage space. We wouldn’t be anything without customers and loyal fans like yourself. Our main focus has always been about allowing our users to create high quality, customized beverages with precision, ease and repeatability.

Over the past two years, our primary source of funding for operations came from a private lending group who shared in our passion and believed in keeping the lights on for our customers. Unfortunately, PicoBrew was unable to overcome its past debts and our current structure made additional investment unsustainable for the long term without significant changes.

On February 7th, 2020 PicoBrew entered into a Washington State Receivership which officially concluded on May 8th, 2020. Up until this point we were unable to comment publicly. The goal of this process was to find PicoBrew a new home within a company that would continue caring for our customers and build upon our mission. With the ongoing pandemic adding layers of complexity, our plans have and will continue to evolve.

With receivership in our rear-view mirror, we would like to announce that PicoBrew is now owned by the same lending group who has been responsible for supporting us and you over these past two years. While there is still much work to be done, efforts to find the right home are still underway. Conversations are ongoing with those interested in all or parts of the company, but nothing has been concluded.

What does this mean for you?

While we don’t have all the answers quite yet, on a day-to-day basis you can expect our servers to remain online for the foreseeable future. This means you can continue using your devices and our services as normal. We are unable to guarantee this indefinitely, but contingencies are being evaluated. All options of how to resume online orders are being explored with an emphasis on providing an expanded collection of self-service parts, but so far, we do not have a solution. We hope to share additional details over the coming days in the form of an FAQ.

What does this mean for us?

Our story isn’t over. A core team remains at PicoBrew working on our options. Inevitably, we will continue to adapt in an effort to find a final home. What that looks like today, we honestly can’t answer. Everyone here, including our new owner group still believes in our customers and our products. We believe in seeing our mission continue and that a viable business still remains with the right partnership.

We’ll be in touch soon with additional updates.

- The PicoBrew Team
 
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Trevor Mack

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Lbarouf

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To me it sounds like they still want to sell the business. Now, it's the IP, customer base and service layer, aka SaaS, that is for sale, and from the new owners. Either way, having an option to brew manually is great. I wonder if I was to buy a used unit, as long as it has the latest version, I could use it. If there isn't anyone to reallocate the unit to my account, I'm left with manual brew, cold brew, etc....

I was looking forward for the PicoStill for fathers day. I guess that would be a risky move.
 

Trevor Mack

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I was looking forward for the PicoStill for fathers day. I guess that would be a risky move.
The PicoStill other than initial request to register to your account via proxy of the brewing device it attaches itself to there is no active communication to the Picobrew servers. This is all data I've gathered from messaging ex-support folks and browsing around the forums. There is speculation around "legality" being the reason the Picostill doesn't publish logs or "distilling sessions" to Picobrew servers... if they don't know it is being used guess they can't be held liable for your choice to distill "oils" in a region that doesn't allow general distilling practices.

If there isn't anyone to reallocate the unit to my account, I'm left with manual brew, cold brew, etc....
I have heard that there might be some action to make this requirement go away... but again not sure of the validity of the messaging or rumors that are floating around anymore. There still is a "core team" around, not sure what that refers to if more and more are found to be let go (or quit for greener pastures) every day/week as time goes on. I'm sure anyone that is left is actively looking for more work knowing their time is limited anyways.
 

Lbarouf

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Ah, I wonder if anyone responds to tickets.
So buying a picostill may not be a bad idea after all.
 

Trevor Mack

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I haven't been getting any responses to tickets, but my emails haven't been "urgent my machine is broken" or anything like that.

The rumor I have heard is that there was a want to "unlock all equipment" so they can transfer / re-register... but the details are very hazy and depends on a lot of things anyways.

If you buy second hand (any device) definitely ask for username+password of their existing account so you can login and verify machine is registered or not and change password making it so you have sole access to their account (obviously not always feasible).

I, myself don't have a PicoStill yet... I just got a verbal deal to have someone's unopened PicoStill shipped to me for pennies on the dollar so give me another 2-3 weeks for USPS's slow trucks to get here and I'll verify if I can register it to my account or not.
 

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Lucky you. I sure would like such deal as well and try distilling. In my are it's a $125 license, but anyone can basically get it. You can also legally sell if you keep the volume low (which you will be forced to with a picostill unless you have 100 of them). It is artisanal production after all!
 

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I used an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel to cut the barbecue topper like this:



It was a pretty easy "follow-the-dots" pattern!

IMPORTANT: If you do this, be sure to verify by taking your own measurements! Don't just assume that your topper has the same hole pattern as mine!

Then I switched to a grinding wheel to clean up the edges, and finally cleaned up the edges further with some emery cloth. I'm going to also clean it with a green 3M pad and Bar Keepers Friend. This should help passivate the edges to prevent rust.

And it fits like this:

What are you guys using for the hops? I am thinking of bending a similar piece of metal to shape like the hops cradle they use. At least dimension wise.
I saw 3D printing PLA that was NSF food grade rated. Temp range looked acceptable. I wonder how that would look.
 

jimdkc

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There is no need for a hops cradle in manual brewing. Pico Paks have hop chambers where steam is injected in the appropriate chamber for each hop "addition". (Note the 4 holes in the lid over the hop pack that direct steam/water into the 4 hop chambers. Those 4 holes are not used during manual brewing.)

I've been using the hop bags from Picobrew (provided in the manual brew kit, and emptied and rinsed for re-use). You just toss them into the Step Filter at the appropriate times. For my last couple of brews, I used some disposable hop bags.
 
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jimdkc

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I tried a Manual Brew using my false bottom plus a 5 Gallon Paint Strainer bag. This was a Vienna-Cascade SMaSh brew using 5 pounds of Vienna Malt. Normal capacity of the Pico C is 4.01 pounds of grain.

Ended up with a SG of 18.8 Brix or 1.0777. This appears to be slightly more efficient than most Pico brews. The Pico C is NOT a very efficient system to begin with (the recipe crafter seems to be set at about 55% efficiency and it predicted 1.069 for this recipe.)

The wort was extremely cloudy. Perhaps the paint strainer bags don't offer enough filtering. I'm going to try cold crashing at the end of fermentation, and maybe using some gelatin for fining. For the next batch I may try a custom bag made from voile curtain sheers that I bought on clearance a few years ago.

If the Pico recipe crafter works at 55% efficiency (which seems likely based on my expermentation), it appears that this batch came out at about 62% efficiency. So, both capacity and efficiency appear to be increased by using a false bottom.

Note that "Manual Brewing" on the Pico is essentially just repeated "Mash" steps. The "Boil" is simply a series "Mash" steps (With the grain bag removed, of course!) where the temperature is set to 203 deg. F. Timing of the Boil steps is dependent on your hop schedule.
 
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rex clingan

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Pico Paks have hop chambers where steam is injected in the appropriate chamber for each hop "addition". (Note the 4 holes in the lid over the hop pack that direct steam/water into the 4 hop chambers. Those 4 holes are not used during manual brewing.)
Pico doesn't inject steam into the step filter. The steam from the thermoblock is connected to one run end of a tee, with the keg pump outlet on the other run end of the tee, each with check valves. The branch of the tee goes to the rotary valve, which goes to the M, P, 1, 2, 3, and 4 ports in the top of the chamber the step filter sits in.
 

jimdkc

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Pico doesn't inject steam into the step filter. The steam from the thermoblock is connected to one run end of a tee, with the keg pump outlet on the other run end of the tee, each with check valves. The branch of the tee goes to the rotary valve, which goes to the M, P, 1, 2, 3, and 4 ports in the top of the chamber the step filter sits in.
Thanks for the clarification. At any rate... the 4 ports that feed into the hop chambers are not used for Manual Brewing!
 

Knightshade

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Which is too bad really. I think it might help with efficiency if they were used. That continuous stream of fairly high pressure water all in one spot doesn’t breed a lot of confidence in my mind.

Regarding your cloudiness, I would definitely recommend a higher quality bag. One thing I have noticed since buying more equipment for brewing is that PB didn’t appear to skimp on quality of components. The corny keg, ball lock connectors, tubing and MB bags are most definitely not lower tier stuff.
 

Trevor Mack

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Thanks for the clarification. At any rate... the 4 ports that feed into the hop chambers are not used for Manual Brewing!
Right which is a real pain as the simplicity of just loading everything at once is so nice with the pak brewing methods. The open source server replacement Picobrew.com allows one to gain control "manually" (well automated recipe creation on your local network) those 4 hole for use again. Though one would need some sort of "bin" created to make use of it.
 

jimdkc

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I think my next step will be a custom-made bag. The curtain sheers I have are a much finer weave. I think they will make a great filter.

Also, I stirred the mash every 15-20 minutes. Next time, I think I will just stir in the beginning, and let the mash settle to self-filter. I was trying to overcome doughballs I experienced with one of my manual brews, and I may have over-compensated.

If this beer doesn't drop clear on it's own, I'll cold crash and add some gelatin.
 

jimdkc

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While having the 4-Ports with matching hop bin functionality would be good for automation, I think I'd rather just have the larger available, unobstructed mash volume and throw the hops into the boil manually!
 

Trevor Mack

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While having the 4-Ports with matching hop bin functionality would be good for automation, I think I'd rather just have the larger available, unobstructed mash volume and throw the hops into the boil manually!
If you wanted you can use the extra ports to switch the direction of water instead of only using the port in the front. I'm not possible you will get any extra effective mash output, but might be worth a shot? Basically don't use the hop purposed ports for hops/boil, but rather just to redirect water within the mash volume you want. The front hole is great for when the mash grain volume is in the front of the machine filter, but not nessecarily when distributed evenly as you describe? Unfortunately can't redirect water to all at the same time without modifications to the firmware of the controller and likely the pumps as well.
 

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While having the 4-Ports with matching hop bin functionality would be good for automation, I think I'd rather just have the larger available, unobstructed mash volume and throw the hops into the boil manually!
i was talk and think along the lines of a hacked brew where a raspberry pi provides the server responses and allow you to brew your own packs using a fake pack (the hack posted earlier). NOT picobrew’s manual brewing method. Basically bringing the complete pack brewing steps but using our own recipes and ingredients. Maybe more sense explained like this? This would use all hops cradles.
 

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Which is too bad really. I think it might help with efficiency if they were used. That continuous stream of fairly high pressure water all in one spot doesn’t breed a lot of confidence in my mind.

Regarding your cloudiness, I would definitely recommend a higher quality bag. One thing I have noticed since buying more equipment for brewing is that PB didn’t appear to skimp on quality of components. The corny keg, ball lock connectors, tubing and MB bags are most definitely not lower tier stuff.
I tend the agree. With perhaps the exception for the pump. Internally, if you look at the valve and pump, the temp rating seems to be underrated or pushing the limits. The design works though. I have been using mine for what, 4 years now? On paper it seems a little light, at least to me. They replaced it, so it’s good. Now with the company’s uncertainty, not sure how it can be supported. I’d be left in repairing it myself. I may try to find a more powerful but close match if it was to be redone. Going back to your statement the build quality, choice of parts such as the tube brand, they use Bevlex, oetiker clamps, not sure who the manufacturer of the kegs are but the rubber handles are perfect, welding, keg posts.... CMB ball locks are renown but not the best (recently I had 4 leaking air out of 20 some). Overall good choice indeed and did not go for the cheapest way to build the machine. Feels like it was built and sold by engineers. Which makes me happy. Alas the business did not succeed as such.
 

Knightshade

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Curious if anybody has visited the auction site. Lots of stuff going for hella cheap. This disclaimer on all the items did catch my attention though.

THESE BREW MACHINES ARE SERVER DEPENDENT AS OF JUNE 1ST. THE SERVER WILL BE KEPT ONLINE FOR APPROX 6 MONTHS
 
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Curious if anybody has visited the auction site. Lots of stuff going for hella cheap. This disclaimer on all the items did catch my attention though.

THESE BREW MACHINES ARE SERVER DEPENDENT AS OF JUNE 1ST. THE SERVER WILL BE KEPT ONLINE FOR APPROX 6 MONTHS
Yes, all pretty cheap. Don’t see the auction making much of a dent in the outstanding loan.
Maybe the 5 trailer loads to be sold separately will make up the difference. 😏
 

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Curious if anybody has visited the auction site. Lots of stuff going for hella cheap. This disclaimer on all the items did catch my attention though.

THESE BREW MACHINES ARE SERVER DEPENDENT AS OF JUNE 1ST. THE SERVER WILL BE KEPT ONLINE FOR APPROX 6 MONTHS
as of June 1st...almost gives hope that, an update could be done to allow your own recipes pushed to the pico directly. Or through other unlikely means. I mean, do they have any incentives at all? If the business is for sell, or the IP more precisely, they have nothing to give of the user base, the hardware nor the software. Unless someone wants to pickup the business which involves the hardware. Not how likely this is to happen. I’d fantasize that a company like Spike, SS Brewtexh, Anvil ans such would buy it to bring a single vessel solution.
Anyhow it’s phrased, this sort of gives me a timeline to get the raspberry pi working before then, and get the list of Parts out with suppliers who can replace them. Maybe we can start a thread for this for those of us who plan on keeping their appliance and use it until it’s not repairable and unusable. Not having the paks is a bummer, but if I can brew my own then why not.

on a separate note, has anyone tried brewing a 2Gal batch? With the raspberry pi hack, I don’t see why you couldn’t put in the step filter a larger bill of grains and use a 2.x gal keg.
@chiefwigms ?
 

chiefwigms

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as of June 1st...almost gives hope that, an update could be done to allow your own recipes pushed to the pico directly. Or through other unlikely means. I mean, do they have any incentives at all? If the business is for sell, or the IP more precisely, they have nothing to give of the user base, the hardware nor the software. Unless someone wants to pickup the business which involves the hardware. Not how likely this is to happen. I’d fantasize that a company like Spike, SS Brewtexh, Anvil ans such would buy it to bring a single vessel solution.
Anyhow it’s phrased, this sort of gives me a timeline to get the raspberry pi working before then, and get the list of Parts out with suppliers who can replace them. Maybe we can start a thread for this for those of us who plan on keeping their appliance and use it until it’s not repairable and unusable. Not having the paks is a bummer, but if I can brew my own then why not.

on a separate note, has anyone tried brewing a 2Gal batch? With the raspberry pi hack, I don’t see why you couldn’t put in the step filter a larger bill of grains and use a 2.x gal keg.
@chiefwigms ?
haven't really done much brewing lately - have a 16 month :)
 

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I wonder what happened with the auction. Checked in at some point and saw a lot of z and c models up for sale. I am guessing someone in WA may have snatched these up and we will see on ebay soon?
 

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I wonder what happened with the auction. Checked in at some point and saw a lot of z and c models up for sale. I am guessing someone in WA may have snatched these up and we will see on ebay soon?
To be clear there were zero Z models at the auction (plenty of Z step filters which are up on ebay already), but there were indeed C/S and Zymatic models. There have been a number up for sale in the "Picobrewers" group on Facebook (link).
 

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To be clear there were zero Z models at the auction (plenty of Z step filters which are up on ebay already), but there were indeed C/S and Zymatic models. There have been a number up for sale in the "Picobrewers" group on Facebook (link).
Thanks for the update and clarification!
 

Mutant

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Curious if anybody has visited the auction site. Lots of stuff going for hella cheap. This disclaimer on all the items did catch my attention though.

THESE BREW MACHINES ARE SERVER DEPENDENT AS OF JUNE 1ST. THE SERVER WILL BE KEPT ONLINE FOR APPROX 6 MONTHS
So at that point, all the machines are dead?
 

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Running a local server which mimicks the www.picobrew.com server the machines are dependant on unlocks "offline" mode for the machines while keeping the automation features.

Though for the smaller machine configuration a custom step filter would need to be made to really use them as such.

 
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[QUOTE="Trevor Mack, post: 8905980,

“Though for the smaller machine configuration a custom step filter would need to be made to really use them as such.”


Can you clarify the statement above for me please?
Thanks.
 

Trevor Mack

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The owners of Zymatic and ZSeries devices are in a better position as there is a fully reusable step filter. Whereas for the "smaller models" (C/S/Pro) there was never a "bring your own ingredients" reusable filter built that went to production lines for consumer purchase. So if you want a fully automated system and are holding onto one of these smaller models you will need to figure out how to do that. There is currently no known solution to this problem you are on your own.
 

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The owners of Zymatic and ZSeries devices are in a better position as there is a fully reusable step filter. Whereas for the "smaller models" (C/S/Pro) there was never a "bring your own ingredients" reusable filter built that went to production lines for consumer purchase. So if you want a fully automated system and are holding onto one of these smaller models you will need to figure out how to do that. There is currently no known solution to this problem you are on your own.
@Trevor Mack you made a cli tool available on github?
 
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