Disclosure: The post below may have been compensated in complimentary goods or services, but the opinions expressed are 100 percent those of Great Beer Now.
Homebrewing can be a rewarding hobby but as someone who has homebrewed in the past, I can affirm that it is also quite frustrating. Everything has to be done in such a meticulous way and one false move- even a minor one- can spell the end of an otherwise promising homebrew outcome. Today, there is a new approach to making beer, and it’s one that helps remove much of the guesswork and risk. That approach is known as PicoBrew, a homebrewing appliance.
Ingredients are Ready
PicoBrew is an automated approach to homebrewing and it’s an appliance that comes in several different models. I have the PicoBrew Pro but there are others, including the highly affordable PicoBrew Model C. The folks who manufacture PicoBrew also manufacture ready- made beer kits, some of which are made to replicate an actual, commercially available craft beer. My first PicoBrew experience was with a kit for Brew Free or Die IPA, a beer brewed by 21st Amendment Brewing. The kit contained malt, yeast, hops, priming sugar, and a second pack of hops for dry- hopping in order to produce a beer very similar in taste to that of this West Coast classic.
With PicoBrew, you simply follow the instructions online. You place the malt pack into the PicoBrew Machine, attach the hoses in just the right manner, and let the brewing begin. The brewing process takes about 2.5 hours and you can check the progress by logging into your PicoBrew page online, using a laptop, cellphone, etc. You can see the temperature, where you beer is at in terms of brewing stages, and how much time is left before the brewing is complete.
If you are ever in doubt about what to do or how it is done, PicoBrew online has instructional videos to guide you each step of the way. The electronic display panel, on the machine itself, also guides you along. It even knows which PicoBrew homebrewing kit you purchased and it modifies its displayed instructions to match, since some beers will require slight adjustments.
When the brew cycle is complete, the next thing you must do is let the wort cool. PicoBrew recommends waiting at least overnight for the wort to be cool enough to pitch the yeast. There is an attachable, strip thermometer that you place on the mini- keg, indicating the temperature and whether or not your wort is cool enough to add the yeast. There is a fast and traditional fermentation option. You pick the one you prefer, depending on how long you are willing to wait for the beer to ferment. At this point, it is a matter of waiting for the fermentation to finish, at which point you then rack the beer, carbonate, and serve.
PicoBrew Pro is a homebrewing appliance designed to turn more people on to the joys of homebrewing. By making the process as automated as possible, the learning curve is shortened, fewer mistakes are made, and homemade beer is delivered fresh, right from your own kitchen.
I have brewed beer in the past and like many budding homebrewers, I didn’t have much success at first. One of my problem areas was with the boiling of the wort. I tended to get tired of stirring and would walk away for too long, leaving my boiling wort unattended for longer than recommended. The result, oftentimes, was burnt malt on the bottom of my brewing kettle, leading to a beer that had a burned flavor. I had other issues too and more than once I was forced to dump out all of my homebrew because the results were undrinkable.
PicoBrew helps to eliminate the room for error by automating the process. But just because it is automated doesn’t mean that you simply push a button, walk away, and then come back and drink 10 days later. It is more convenient than traditional homebrewing, but it isn’t quite that simple. You still need to sanitize anything and everything that comes in contact with your beer. You still have to monitor temperatures and handle hot equipment with care. You still have to watch your homebrew and make sure it ferments at a safe temperature. And you have to carbonate and rack. My point is that it is not that simple, so don’t let people tell you that you just push a few buttons and forget it. That is simply not the case. However, it is a far cry from brewing beer the old fashioned way and its use lessens the chances for mistakes.
Watch my PicoBrew Video here:
One thing I noticed quickly with PicoBrew is that it does make a good deal of noise. My family was trying to watch television while I brewed and with the PicoBrew not very far from the family room, they had a difficult time hearing the television and had to relocate to another TV in a different part of the house. This is something to bear in mind as you start to brew but don’t let the possibility of high decibels get in your way. The machine makes some sound, yes, but it isn’t that loud. You can still go about your daily routine with little interference.
I know that some people have criticized machines like PicoBrew because they feel it takes the creativity out of homebrewing. I can empathize with those who voice this concern because there is some truth to it. You don’t get quite the level of creative freedom and input with PicoBrew like you do with traditional homebrewing and you may not feel the same sense of pride with your finished product. But this all depends on one’s perspective. For a person like me, who doesn’t like to cook or prepare foods or beverages in any way and is really only concerned with the finished product, PicoBrew is the way to go.
Homebrewing is a cool and often relaxing hobby. There are more homebrewers today than at any point in the nation’s recent history and it continues to win over adherents as individuals test and hone their brewing skills. With PicoBrew, beer can be brewed with less skill and less overall commitment and while I can see how some might feel it takes automation of what should be a hands- on activity a little too far, it is nevertheless a great idea for those who would rather drink than brew. And with the PicoBrew Model C selling for such an affordable price, we could easily see the day when homebrewing because as commonplace as brewing coffee. It’s a handy dandy machine, and one I recommend to all.