With Pico, The Keurig For Beer Is Finally Here

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Keurig for Home Brewing Beer Will Give You Small Batches on Demand.

The former Microsoft executive in Fremont who wants to help every beer lover in the world become an accomplished home brewer is taking to Kickstarter for a third product.SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PicoBrew, Inc, creator of the award-winning PicoBrew Zymatic® automatic beer brewing appliance, today launched the company’s latest product, the PicoBrew Pico™.A Seattle startup has developed what it calls a “3D printer for beer” — a device that can be used by just about anyone inside their own home to brew craft beer. Ex-Microsoft Vice President Bill Mitchell is trying to fix the latter problem with PicoBrew, a company that makes self-contained home brewing machines.

Bill Mitchell and the team of Seattle startup PicoBrew is introducing the campaign Monday for a smaller, easier-to-use version of their automated brewing machine. While PicoBrew’s flagship Zymatic product targets beer brewing professionals and prosumers, the Pico is a craft beer appliance for the home craft beer enthusiast. “With Zymatic we pioneered the fully-automatic, high-quality, craft beer appliance,” said Dr.

Bill Mitchell, CEO of PicoBrew. “Over 1,200 Zymatic customers all over the world are now enjoying higher quality test batches and more precise, repeatable results. The company’s first product was the PicoBrew Zymatic, a $1,999 beer-making machine that allows amateur brewers to easily craft delicious stouts, porters and IPAs on their kitchen countertops. Now with our more compact and approachable Pico, we’ve truly created the craft brewing appliance for beer lovers everywhere.” After years of R&D related to heating, fluid distribution and ingredient packaging, PicoBrew reduced the cost and complexity of the patented processes and technology employed in their flagship Zymatic, and designed it into a compact, stylish package.

At 12” wide and 31 pounds, the Pico, for the first time ever, allows someone with no brewing experience to easily brew five (5) liters of fresh, top-quality craft beer in the comfort of their own kitchen. The real rub, though, is that the main unit doesn’t contain the mini keg where the beer ends up, so you need space for that, too (and room in your fridge to cool it). A key part of Pico is the new PicoPak system, which features pre-packaged ingredient combinations available from brewers and breweries around the world.

Brewing on Pico is as simple as filling a keg with water, loading the hop and grain modules into the machine, and hitting “Brew.” Automatic steam-cleaning and compostable pulp packaging for grains and hops make clean-up a snap. If everything goes according to plan, the Pico will start shipping to Kickstarter customers in spring 2016, when the units will also become available for general sale. Some PicoPaks also employ a dry-hopping step where a hops package is added for more hop flavor and aroma. “Although the craft beer market is expanding at a record pace, small craft breweries face a steep and increasing challenge getting distribution for their beers. Earlier this year, it rolled out a second product called KegSmarts, a Wi-Fi enabled device that hooks up to a standard kegerator and provides information on an OLED display like temperature, quantity, and type of beer — all of which can be monitored and controlled from a mobile device. Mitchell, who managed early versions of smartwatches and tablets at Microsoft, started the company in 2010 with his food-scientist brother and a hardware engineer he worked with in Redmond.

The idea is to save brewers’ time — home brewing can take a full day to make a batch — and help keep batches made from the same recipe tasting the same. The company was founded in 2013 by Mitchell, who spent nearly two decades at Microsoft leading teams that developed PDAs, smartphones, and wearable computing; his brother, Jim; and Avi Geiger, another former Microsoft employee. Along with the new device, PicoBrew is launching an online marketplace to sell ingredient packs, called PicoPaks, designed by craft brewers across the country as well as other home brewers. Any brewer seeking to publish their beer on BrewMarketplace can join the PicoBrew Development Program (PDP), which leverages Zymatic as a development platform to create PicoPaks.

It’s only a little more complicated than popping a Green Mountain K-Cup into your Keurig, and instead of a single cup of steaming coffee, you get a big batch of IPA to share. From the start, there are more than 50 breweries making PicoPak pods for the machine, including Rogue Ales and Elysian Brewing, and packs start from $19 per 5-liter batch. There’s also a subscription-based marketplace ($99 per year) that gives you access to the full range of PicoPaks and lets you design your own to sell to other Pico users on the market for royalties.

At least to start, the price sounds a little steep and the setup less than stellar, but if the user base reaches a critical mass, it could become a great place for discovering new brews. Peter Charbonnier, owner of Ballard-based Populuxe Brewing, said the brewery self-distributes some product around the region, but noted that it’s hard for small breweries to attract the attention of large distributors. But efficiency comes at the cost of original flavors, experimentation, and discovery—and if those are your priorities, more old-fashioned methods may still be required.

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