By Mike Pomranz
Updated October 28, 2015
Credit: © MiniBrew

Earlier this week, we looked at Pico, a forthcoming homebrewing device that’s practically a Keurig for beer—an all-in-one countertop appliance that handles much of the brewing process at the touch of a button. But amazingly, Pico isn’t the only product currently competing in the crowdsourced, all-in-one, kitchen-ready, brew-it-yourself game.

Less than a week earlier, MiniBrew hit Indiegogo, describing itself at the time as “the world’s first all in one, small batch beer brewing machine.” Though it may have been the first of its kind to be announced on a crowdsourcing site, it’s going to have trouble fulfilling that goal in reality. Pico has already hit its Kickstarter campaign goal and is scheduled to ship in March of next year. Meanwhile, MiniBrew is not only lagging behind in backers; it’s also set to ship in April, meaning Pico most likely will beat it to market.

Though the two products have all sorts of differences, the most obvious appears to be price. The lowest amount you can pledge to get a MiniBrew right now is $2,250, whereas Pico still has a few early bird backing opportunities left for the comparatively dirt cheap $499.

But more interesting is what these products have in common: First, that they exist, and second, that people are interested in them. Just a few years ago, the idea of a tabletop, automated homebrewing device wouldn’t have only seemed unfeasible, but unnecessary too. For generations, brewing beer is something the vast majority of people have left up to a brewery. But apparently the idea of making fresh beer at home is trending.

Just how long that sentiment will last is yet to be seen. The reality of beer, compared to something like coffee, is it takes far longer to brew and, unless you’re an alcoholic, affords fewer opportunities to be enjoyed throughout the week. And though small compared to your typical homebrew batches, brewing a gallon-plus of beer is still a commitment, both in brewing time and drinking time. It’ll be interesting to see whether people who jump on the fad really know what they’re getting themselves into.

But if machines like these produce decent quality brews and are able to foster a strong community of people to share recipes, maybe making beer at home really can be democratized. At the very least, these futuristic appliances will look cool next to the gear from all of those other hobbies you gave up.