Learning to brew your own beer doesn’t have to be hard. For a basic brew, I liken it to making boxed macaroni and cheese. If you can measure ingredients, add in items at specific times, and maintain a relatively steady temperature, you can make beer. However, it can be expensive to buy (and inevitably upgrade) the equipment and homebrewing is a large time investment. An all-grain brew day can easily take up an entire Saturday — and that’s not including all of the clean-up.
For those with small spaces, limited time, and some cash to spend, counter-top appliances are all the rage. These shiny boxes homebrewing kits right in beside toasters and microwaves but promise to make brewing beer as simple as a pot of coffee. Or maybe even microwavable mac n’ cheese.
The Pico brand debuted on Kickstarter, but now makes its products available to non-backers as well. Pico offers a broad range of homebrewing products for different needs and price points. For $399 you can purchase introductory level Pico Model C which is capable of brewing 5 liters of beer in two hours using proprietary PicoPaks. The PicoPak concept is similar to single serve coffee pods. You can buy recipes from professional breweries such as Coronado, or craft your own via the Pico website. The Pico C can even be expanded to make spirits using the PicoStill attachment and it’s capable of sous vide cooking right out of the box.
The higher end of Pico’s offerings includes the Zymatic which retails for $1,999 and is geared toward professional brewers. The shiny stainless box is a miniature all-grain system designed for mad scientists who love to tweak recipes and go off-script, or for production breweries to create test batches. The Zymatic produces two and a half gallons of beer and has a large library of recipes available to get you started.
New to Pico’s portfolio is the Z Series, a modular system which can be upgraded to brew anywhere from 2.5 to 10 gallons of beer at a time. The Z Series can use the prepackaged PicoPaks or loose hops and malt. It is a pre-order offering, with configurations ranging from $1,999 to $6,999.
Brewie makes a single model, the Brewie+. With a global buyer in mind, it comes in various plug and voltage configurations. It is a beautiful piece of machinery, with sleek, clean lines. It’s also very large with a 20-liter capacity. Like the Zymatic, this is a fully-realized all-grain system with the ability to fine-tune mash and sparge settings and automate four different hop additions. Brewie+ retails for $2,399 but the manufacturer offers significant discounts when ordering multiple units.
BeerDroid by BrewArt retails for $799 and promises to brew 2.6 gallons of premium quality beer with the push of a button. “BrewPrint” recipe packs are available for dozens of styles to get you brewing quickly or you can craft your own beers using all grain ingredients. The BrewFlow add-on allows you to carbonate and pour your beer at your preferred serving temperature.