PicoBrew Zymatic

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bluelakebrewing

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http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2021921820_briercolumn30xml.html

Read about this in the morning paper. No idea he had a kickstarter. So he's a wealthy retired Microsoft employee and wants US to give him money? give me a break.

Not to be rude but it really isnt brewing. I would equate it to the easy bake oven of brewing. Put grains and hops in and then put it in the fridge to ferment, wheres the fun in that?
 

kh54s10

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So let me get this straight?!? We have some ex Microsoft (probably millionaires) who don't really like homebrewing, they want to make and Easybrew set it and forget it system and they can only do it if they get $150,000 in free money???

As bluelakebrewing said, where is the fun here? I would suspect that you would have to brew for a few years to make it pay for itself. If no longer.
 

mrphillips

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Brewing is a labor of love. If you don't enjoy the process, then that's fine, but homebrewing might not be for you. I'll admit that the sanitizing process can get a little grueling (especially the bottles), but personally, I don't want to "Set it and forget it." I love the mixing, controlling the temp, stirring in the malts, tasting the wart, changing my mind and adding sh!t to the secondary...it's a beautiful thing.

Is it a cool idea? Very much so. Will it take off? I can't see it. My only real gripe with it is that it appears as though you can only do a couple gallons at a time. What if I want 10 gallons of beer? Do I run 2, 5 gallon batches? I guess there are some brewers who will only ever brew 5 gallon batches, but that's not me.

And what about the price? Lets say, hypothetically, that one of these machines costs $10,000. Think of all the equipment/grains you could buy with that money? I could buy 4, 15 gallon fermenters, and still have thousands left for supplies. Even if it only cost $1000, I think I'd still rather invest in one, used 15 gallon fermenter.
 

wookiemofo

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For some of us with kids that limit our brewing time dramatically, i think it sounds awesome. IF, it gets the blessing from some pro brewers. I'd gladly pay $1500 for a 5 gal system. I already have over half that in equipment that doesn't get used as much because I have troubles finding time.
 

sch21c

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I think it's pretty interesting. If you don't want to spend the better part of a weekend day off brewing, but still want to make some homebrew, it's a nice way to go.

Price doesn't seem that far out. System only does 2.5g batches.

I could see using it as a nice countertop pilot system. Nice way to see how things will come together. And removes the typical argument against small batches -- "If you're going to go through the trouble to brew, might as well do a full 5 gallon (or 10 gallon) batch)."

If I had the excess cash, I could see going for it. I think it'll wind up taking off. As BeerGrylls said, if it gets more people into the hobby, all the better.

And I don't understand the Microsoft hate here. So what if the guy was a former VP at MS? There are tons of successful silicon valley types using kickstarter to fund their next project. At it's heart kickstarter is just a pre-order system.
 

Leithoa

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The product looks reasonably well thought out. Though for $1400 I'd prefer no plastic on the hot side of things.
I wonder what the quality of beer it puts out is compared to BIAB or more traditional methods. Since you only have two liquid vessels what sort of extraction rates do you get, and do you get increased tannins with, what looks to be, the circulation of wort during the sparge? What happens if you get a stuck sparge?

It's definitely an interesting product but I'm not sure there's enough of a market demand to keep a company afloat based solely on that product.
 

Adeering

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I like the idea, it is a neat concept and would be awesome for test batches. Personally I do enjoy the full labor of brewing (even though Im working on an easier cleanup for my system). I want to make a small 2 gal batch system and this gives me a few ideas, though I dont want to go full automated like this. It will make for the hobby to expand and decent beers to be appreciated versus BMC
 

jpalarchio

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I think there's probably a market for these systems if they can produce reasonably good beer and aren't an absolute pain to clean and maintain.

That said, the market is probably not anyone that frequents this forum.

The 3 gallon keg on this one is smart as people could just toss it in their fridge when it's ready to serve; not sure what the plan is for fermentation control though.
 

FuzzeWuzze

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Brewing is a labor of love. If you don't enjoy the process, then that's fine, but homebrewing might not be for you. I'll admit that the sanitizing process can get a little grueling (especially the bottles), but personally, I don't want to "Set it and forget it." I love the mixing, controlling the temp, stirring in the malts, tasting the wart, changing my mind and adding sh!t to the secondary...it's a beautiful thing.

Is it a cool idea? Very much so. Will it take off? I can't see it. My only real gripe with it is that it appears as though you can only do a couple gallons at a time. What if I want 10 gallons of beer? Do I run 2, 5 gallon batches? I guess there are some brewers who will only ever brew 5 gallon batches, but that's not me.

And what about the price? Lets say, hypothetically, that one of these machines costs $10,000. Think of all the equipment/grains you could buy with that money? I could buy 4, 15 gallon fermenters, and still have thousands left for supplies. Even if it only cost $1000, I think I'd still rather invest in one, used 15 gallon fermenter.
Some would have said the same thing about espresso 15-20 years ago.
Now you can goto Walmart and buy a Keurig machine and make pretty amazing coffee in a desk sized machine.

Dont get me wrong i would never buy this, but i can see a market. Especially in craft breweries that are constantly trying to expand their lineup, being able to do quick and easy experiment batches in 3 hours while your off doing something else that you can then look at going full scale with could help a lot i would think?
 

jpalarchio

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And what about the price? Lets say, hypothetically, that one of these machines costs $10,000. Think of all the equipment/grains you could buy with that money? I could buy 4, 15 gallon fermenters, and still have thousands left for supplies. Even if it only cost $1000, I think I'd still rather invest in one, used 15 gallon fermenter.
Except that the intro price is less than $1,500 and I would expect it to go down over time.

While homebrewing can be done with the smallest of budgets (think $30 Mr. Beer kits...), higher cost equipment seems to generally fall into the category of: function, "bling" and/or convenience. This product seems to span all three and that certainly comes at a cost.

Anyone could look at any of our homebrewing setups and surely find a way to achieve most of the same for less money. Could you ferment in three 5-gallon buckets as opposed to buying a 15-gallon stainless fermenter? Sure you could. But the purchase of that fermenter comes at a cost that covers both "bling" and convenience.
 

Onkel_Udo

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I think the comparison to a Kuerig is flawed in a couple of ways:

K-cups are instant gratification for something you do DAILY

The Pico Brew still requires additional equipment (regulator, ice bucket, etc) and is NOT finished in 3 hours because and ice bath is the only shilling method.

Not saying it won't find a market...just the comparison is very flawed. A crockpot would have been a more apt comparison.
 

jbaysurfer

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Price doesn't seem that far out. System only does 2.5g batches.

...And removes the typical argument against small batches -- "If you're going to go through the trouble to brew, might as well do a full 5 gallon (or 10 gallon) batch)."
Oh thank God it eliminates arguments against small batches. So sick of the persecution!
 

mattd2

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Yeah it seems to shortcut some long held beliefs in brewing.
Boil (and allow the steam to escape) for DMS removal - The HBT Wiki states DMS boils at 210°F so even at 208°F you are not getting rid of it very efficiently.
Chill - they just breeze over chilling, "oh just through it in a bucket of ice". How about just doing no chill or sticking it in your fermentation fridge and get it down before pitching.
Eff of only 50-65% - surely they could get this up. Brutus 2.0's appartently get ~75%
Clean up & maintenance - what about taking the thing apart to clean out the element / pump. I have seen a few pictures on how nasty RIMS tubes get without be fully broken down for cleaning on HBT! I can see getting enough flowrate through the system for a real CIP process.

Except all that I like the concept of a simple small batch system, i think the excecution might have put a bit to much emphisis on form instead of function though :D
 

hirambiram

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I can only speak for myself here obviously, but, I enjoy the entire process. I enjoy mashing in. I enjoy going to the LHBS and chatting peeps up for ideas and tips. This, to me, would not be enjoyable. Whats more is one batch would be gone in a sitting or two. I could'nt imagine any of my hombrew buddies even considering brewing this way. They're catchphrase should be "Homebrewing for the yuppie void of conviction".

Just my 2 cents.
 

mjdonnelly68

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I have to say I don't understand the motivation behind these 'automatic' brewing set ups. I like brewing, the verb.

If you don't like brewing and you just like beer, isn't is much easier just to go down to the store and buy a six pack?

Ten years ago I could see the value in a product like this for folks who wanted a more complex beer than what was available commercially, but didn't want the 'hassle' of home brewing.

But today, the quality and diversity of craft beer is such that you can buy pretty much whatever floats your boat.

And if I'm really being honest, as a homebrewer these things offend me. It takes time and effort to become an experienced homebrewer. Automating that effort so that any disinterested douchebag with more dollars than sense can jump the line - that's downright un-american.
 
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I think this looks pretty neat, I still don't understand how they brew a batch in under an hour though... I like making beer recipes and tasting them, so small scale batches would be a bonus for me. I'm thinking about this one.....
 

NTXBrauer

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Move over coffee maker, next year eveyone will have a picobrew zymatic on their kitchen counter. :)

I want one. In no way does this mean I would give up the craft of home brewing as I do today, but it could help to develop and improve upon recipes brewing on a smaller 2.5 gallon scale.

Either way, it will be interesting to see where it is at 1 year from now. :mug:
 

stamandster

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So your basically buying a brewtroller (et al), pump, korny keg, three "pots, rims tube? hmm... I don't know....

Besides the brewbot is way cooler :)
 

kal

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The product looks reasonably well thought out. Though for $1400 I'd prefer no plastic on the hot side of things.
Yep. That's one thing I'm not too keen on.

But today, the quality and diversity of craft beer is such that you can buy pretty much whatever floats your boat.
Maybe in the US, but not everywhere. Many places do not have the selection available. A large reason I got into AG myself was because none of the beers I liked were available up in Canada.

I have seen first hand a lot of people come over and try my beer and enjoy it but when I tell them it's a 6-8 hour process + fermenting + kegging, and so forth, their eyes glaze over a bit.

I think it's perfect for someone that just wants to tinker with recipes and doesn't want to make a whole lot of beer at once. Given that it's somewhat automated, even though it's small 2.5 gallon batches, it's less work so just run it a couple of times to get a full 5 gallons.

One thing that both these automated setups is doing right is that they're brewing AG and not extract. These should give a LOT better quality than some Mr. Beer kit (which often just ends up turning the aspiring homebrewer off of making beer).

While neither setup is something I'd be interested in myself, I do think more interest in making beer yourself is a good thing for the homebrewing hobby in general. The more people that are interested in making beer (regardless of how it's made), the better for the rest of us who have an interest as well.

It means more shops to buy supplies, more online stores, etc. I imagine one day when every one of my neighbors stands around talking about what they've brewed up last. How cool would that be!

Kal
 

mattd2

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Move over coffee maker, next year eveyone will have a picobrew zymatic on their kitchen counter. :)

I want one. In no way does this mean I would give up the craft of home brewing as I do today, but it could help to develop and improve upon recipes brewing on a smaller 2.5 gallon scale.

Either way, it will be interesting to see where it is at 1 year from now. :mug:
But the thing is you could do that with (if you had a semi-decent kitch stove) with just a 4G pot and a grain bag - for probably less than $200 if you bought everything new and even had a ball valve on the kettle :D
I want to do 2 gallon (7.5 litre) batches because they would fit in 10 litre buckets nicely.
 

NTXBrauer

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But the thing is you could do that with (if you had a semi-decent kitch stove) with just a 4G pot and a grain bag - for probably less than $200 if you bought everything new and even had a ball valve on the kettle :D
I want to do 2 gallon (7.5 litre) batches because they would fit in 10 litre buckets nicely.
So very true, I have everything to brew smaller batches already. I actually just like new gadgets, and definitely wouldn't mind playing around with one that makes beer. :mug:
 

jwynia

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I love to cook. Some of my favorite recipes require multiple days or weeks of prep, hours and hours of slow cooking or smoking over hardwood, etc.

But, I don't cook like that every night. Some nights, I make quick meals. I **gasp** own a microwave. Some nights, I even let someone else cook for me and get takeout or go to a restaurant.

Doesn't mean I'm not a cook.
Doesn't mean I don't enjoy cooking as a hobby.
Doesn't mean that I can't go all out on some weekends and REALLY cook.

Sometimes you raise and butcher your own hog, cure the belly, slowly smoke it and use your homemade bacon in baked beans, cooked for 24 hours in a slow cooker.

Sometimes you buy bacon and the rest stays the same.

And, sometimes, you crack open a can of Bush's and enjoy time with your friends.

Unless you are raising your own grain, malting it yourself, forging your own steel and building your own equipment, and brewing over a fire you made from wood you chopped down yourself (using your own hand-made axe), to be bottled in bottles you made by blowing glass yourself, you're cutting corners.

One last analogy. In the 50's, Betty Crocker released cake mixes that you just added water to. Home cooks complained that the didn't feel like they were really baking when they used those mixes. So, they removed the fats and powdered eggs and introduced cake mixes where you add oil, water and eggs. Suddenly, everyone felt that they were doing "enough" that they could tell people they "baked a cake" and not feel like they were lying.

Do we have to go through crap like that in homebrewing to earn our membership cards in the club?

PS - I bought one to be delivered in March. It will go in the 4th bedroom of my house, which has been entirely converted over to my brewery, alongside all of my all-grain equipment, which I will continue to use, *in addition* to this new machine.
 

mattd2

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...PS - I bought one to be delivered in March. It will go in the 4th bedroom of my house, which has been entirely converted over to my brewery, alongside all of my all-grain equipment, which I will continue to use, *in addition* to this new machine.
Please let us know what you think of it when it arrives.

I challange others to develop a "PicoBrew" alternative by March next year.
PicoBrew will do the brewing for you... oh except for crushing grain, cooling the wort, controlling the fermentation :D.

Goals:
1) Batch size does not need to be "big" - anything over 2 gallons acceptable
2) The system has to have minimal outside input after the setup. For proof of concept I would think moving hoses to "simulate" auto valves ok
3) Ease to clean (one thing I don't like about both of these is the "hidden" parts)
4) Cost - a realistic tracking of the cost to build the proof of concept
5) Proof of concept due by end of March 2014 (6 months)

Who will accept the challange? I wonder if a kickstarter could be done on this????
 

mattd2

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Just kicking around ideas for my alternative and have one big question:
Dough balls? how are these stopping doughballs?
 

jpalarchio

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I bought one to be delivered in March. It will go in the 4th bedroom of my house, which has been entirely converted over to my brewery, alongside all of my all-grain equipment, which I will continue to use, *in addition* to this new machine.
Awesome. Can't wait to see a review from a homebrewer's perspective as opposed to someone some gadget person who has never brewed before.

This project seemed much further along than BrewBot or any of the others that I've seen.
 

orangehero

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Here's my alternative: I'll brew a half-barrel batch, give you 2.5 gallons of wort in your little keg, and then you can clean my equipment. Just pay me $1500 + ingredients to be your robot. I'll even come up with recipes for you! Send payment to [email protected].

So how exactly does this thing even work, besides leaving for 3-1/2 hours while it "magically" converts your water to beer?
 

jwynia

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This project seemed much further along than BrewBot or any of the others that I've seen.
Yeah, that's a large part of what sold me on it. That and a couple of other things. First is that it runs off a 15A 110V outlet. I don't have 220V wired in anywhere where I'd be allowed to run an automatic system and the BrewBot (and basically any of these that come out of Europe) need 220V. I'm pretty sure that is a large factor for why the PicoBrew does 2.5 gallons instead of more. Second was the fact that people like Chris White was in the video having helped with testing/tasting/etc.

It's clear to me that they've done a LOT of testing and tasting, not just drawing circuit diagrams and soldering components together.

Here's my alternative: I'll brew a half-barrel batch, give you 2.5 gallons of wort in your little keg, and then you can clean my equipment.
Sure, as soon as cleaning your equipment means tossing it in the dishwasher. And, I assume you'll brew to my precise recipe and drop the keg off so I don't have to waste a bunch of time driving to get it, right?
==
For the record, in my case, I actually bought this as a marketing expense for my business. I build work/workflow management software for businesses. We've been looking for demonstrations we can use in our marketing to show how our software can manage the work around manufacturing facilities. The PicoBrew is actually going to stand in for our little manufacturing facility in the form of a wort factory for our homebrew club.

I'll be setting up a demo web app for recipe management where someone can request a given recipe be brewed on a specific day. The ingredients will be automatically ordered and shipped, with payment being made through the app. On the scheduled day, an automatic brew sheet will be printed so that our "manufacturing worker" can load the machine with the right ingredients (which will have arrived via UPS the day before) and brew the beer. That person can change the status of the order to notify the requester to pick up the keg of wort to pitch their yeast and finish the batch.

Basically, it's a "pico" version of the kinds of things many of the manufacturers we work with do with our software, but we can show whatever we want without NDA problems.

So, given I bought mine with pre-tax money, it was considerably cheaper. :)
 

jwynia

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I also just saw on their Facebook page that this device can easily be used to do sous vide cooking (they had photos of making sous vide steak by "mashing" for 3 hours at 135F).
 
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