The 'Keurig' of Homebrewing Just Got a Lot Cheaper
The best estimates of homebrewing in the United States puts the number of people making beer at home at well over one million. And one thing all million plus probably agree on is that, unless you’ve managed to outfit your rec room with professional brewing equipment, it’s a lot of work and it’s a big mess. Also, who has a rec room anymore? And to deal with the cumbersome process of measuring and moving gallons of sugary, near-boiling liquid around, companies have been trying to jump into the homebrewing game with gadgets and appliances designed to simplify the process.
Generally these contraptions are problematic for one of two reasons: Either they are prohibitively expensive or they don’t really brew beer. But the newest entrant into the homebrew does its best to tackle both of those problems.
The new Pico Model C should look familiar to beer nerds, techies and Kickstarter obsessives. The earlier generation of Pico was a darling of the crowdfunding community a couple years ago, ultimately raising more than 1.4 million dollars. And the makers of the Pico Model S are going back to that well again. Today they are launching another Kickstarter campaign for their new Pico C.
For those who missed the first iteration of the Pico, it was hailed as a Keurig for beer, and as overused as that comparison has become, for the Pico it actually fits fairly well. You really can put a box of ingredients in the machine (Pico calls them brew boxes), push a button and have beer come out the other end. And one point of pride for the Pico is that it’s an automated all-grain brewer—no malt extract or gimmicks not typically used in brewing. But the new generation Pico comes with some improvements. There are small changes—the fermentation keg is dishwasher safe and slightly easier to fill. But most notable is a now-expected feature for any new appliance: It’s app connected. The Pico app will let users customize the brewing process, adjusting the bitterness and ABV of their beer with a few taps on an iPhone. A rep from the company told me they can pull that off because they overpack ingredients in the brew boxes allowing users to get additional sugars from the extra grains and additional bitterness from the extra hops.
The other big change is the price point. While the original Pico retails for $799, the earlybird for the first backers of Pico C is just $279. Eventually the new model will retail for $549, but it’s still a significant drop.
One other selling point for beer fans is the huge number of partnerships that Pico has formed with breweries all over the country. The rep told me they work with over 150 brewers whose recipes are put into brew boxes, including some well known brews like Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale and 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die.
I’ve spent enough time in homebrew shops to know that machines like the Pico can cause some consternation among purists—they can be viewed shortcuts. But while I haven’t used the Pico yet, I did get to taste the final product, and I have to say, its beers stand up to even the best homebrews I’ve had before. So if you’re willing to drop a few hundred bucks on one, you can easily keep yourself in homebrewed beer at the push of a button. And easy access to good beer is never a bad thing.
Anyone interested in picking up a Pico C or contributing to the Kickstarter can find it here.