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General Category => Equipment and Software => Topic started by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 02:11:07 AM

Title: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 02:11:07 AM
Hey All!

I'm brand new here and very new to brewing in general.  I have a lot of interest, but not a ton of time.  I was looking at the different machines from PicoBrew and the newly announced PicoBrew Z caught my attention.  Can anyone share their thoughts on this machine in general and if they think it could be good for someone like me who is interested in brewing, the brewing process, and eventually fine tuning recipes of my own?  I like how the machine is modular and can range from 2.5 gallons to 10 gallons depending on the model selected (but from what I understand you can upgrade later on as well).  I would probably go with the 2.5 gallon model to start if I was to move forward on this piece of equipment.  Here's a link to the PicoBrew Z's page for reference - https://www.picobrew.com/Store/Products/Z

Thanks in advance for any information you can supply!
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: tommymorris on February 24, 2018, 02:22:16 AM
I preordered one.

It probably is a good machine to start on. It will support PicoPaks so you can make other people’s recipes. But, you can also buy ingredients on your own and make your own recipes or recipes from the AHA website.

The machine totally automates the mash and boil process, but, there is still a lot for you to do: design recipes, mill your grains, treat your water (not required but fun and helpful), pitch your yeast, and ferment your beer in a temperature controlled environment. I say all that so you don’t think you should be doing more work. You are still very involved. Involved, but, since mash and boil are a 3-4 hour process you save a lot of time. You can set up the machine and then come back 3-4 hours later to chill, pitch yeast, and clean up. You probably will spend 20-30 minutes on the front end prepping and 20-30 minutes on the back end.

The machine will take away some hassles. All grain should be very easy. You mill grains load the machine and the mash process is handled for you. So is the boil process. So you do miss some steps.

If you do buy one, use this code for $50 off. share link http://z.picobrew.com?kid=M2YC3 (Truth in advertising, I will get a discount too.)
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 02:36:50 AM
Hey Alestateyall!

Thanks for the response.  I appreciate it.  The PicoPak adapter is one of the things that attracted me to this machine as I'd like to at some point create my own.  I had been looking at the Zymatic for quite sometime, and they had said there would be adapter released for it at some point, but after the announcement of the PicoBrew Z I found out they had dropped the adapter for the Zymatic.  You sound like you have a lot of experience with the machine even though it's not out yet.  Do you own the Zymatic of have experience with it?  It seems that the "Z" will be fairly similar.  I was told by PicoBrew that the Z has more industrial grade parts though and will be set to work with some new recipe system in the future.  If I jump I'd probably end up going for the 2.5 gallon, I'd love to do 5 gallons, but I'm not sure what the extra expense would be to wire a 240V Plug.  Thanks again!  Any input from anyone else would be great. 
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: tommymorris on February 24, 2018, 03:11:49 AM
Hey Alestateyall!

Thanks for the response.  I appreciate it.  The PicoPak adapter is one of the things that attracted me to this machine as I'd like to at some point create my own.  I had been looking at the Zymatic for quite sometime, and they had said there would be adapter released for it at some point, but after the announcement of the PicoBrew Z I found out they had dropped the adapter for the Zymatic.  You sound like you have a lot of experience with the machine even though it's not out yet.  Do you own the Zymatic of have experience with it?  It seems that the "Z" will be fairly similar.  I was told by PicoBrew that the Z has more industrial grade parts though and will be set to work with some new recipe system in the future.  If I jump I'd probably end up going for the 2.5 gallon, I'd love to do 5 gallons, but I'm not sure what the extra expense would be to wire a 240V Plug.  Thanks again!  Any input from anyone else would be great.
I don’t have a Zymatic. I have wanted one for a while but have never pulled the trigger. I know a few people that have them. Everyone seems to rave about the Zymatic and PicoBrew customer service. I was going to buy Zymatic during their last kick starter but I thought there might be a new machine in development and decided to wait. I am glad I did, although now I can’t stand waiting until July.

I already brew 2.5 gallon batches. I have been for about 2 years and in that time I have never needed to brew a larger batch. I brewed 5 gallon batches for years. I would often get bored with the beer before the keg kicked. I don’t share my beer as much as some people. I also try hard to limit my intake. Although, that is easier said than done with fresh kegged beer in the basement.

My thought on 2.5 versus 5 gallons is, it depends on how fast you go through the beer. A 2.5 gallon keg lasts 3-4 weeks for me. I brew once per month on average. If I need more, with the Picobrew I will just brew twice in one day. I figure when brewing back to back batches you only need to clean after the second batch. So, 2 batches takes longer, but there won’t be that much more work.  I would only need 5 gallons if I was brewing for a party. In that case, I would probably want to different recipes for variety.

But, if you go through beer fast you will want the extra capacity to save time and work.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 03:23:49 AM
I wonder, if you brew two identical batches back to back in the 2.5 gallon version, can you add both to the same 5 gallon keg to ferment  once your done?  How would that work?  Thanks again for your input!
Title: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: tommymorris on February 24, 2018, 03:29:51 AM
I wonder, if you brew two identical batches back to back in the 2.5 gallon version, can you add both to the same 5 gallon keg to ferment  once your done?  How would that work?  Thanks again for your input!
Yes. You can ferment both in the same vessel. But not in a 5 gallon vessel. You need head room. 5 gallon batches need a 5.5-6 gallon fermenter (six is better IMHO.)

You could cool the first 2.5 gallons and pitch yeast. Then, when the second 2.5 gallons is ready you could pour that in (after cooling). You can even wait a day for the second batch.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 03:40:06 AM
Would you use a Carboy as your larger fermenting vessel? Or what would you recommend?
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: Robert on February 24, 2018, 03:40:34 AM
I wonder, if you brew two identical batches back to back in the 2.5 gallon version, can you add both to the same 5 gallon keg to ferment  once your done?  How would that work?  Thanks again for your input!
Yes. You can ferment both in the same vessel. But not in a 5 gallon vessel. You need head room. 5 gallon batches need a 5.5-6 gallon fermenter (six is better IMHO.)

You could cool the first 2.5 gallons and pitch yeast. Then, when the second 2.5 gallons is ready you could pour that in (after cooling). You can even wait a day for the second batch.
That's the traditional German method called Darauflassen --  roughly "lay it on there" --  run one wort onto the previous as the first comes into Kräusen.   Used to build up yeast for a vigorous fermentation.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: tommymorris on February 24, 2018, 11:14:48 AM
I wonder, if you brew two identical batches back to back in the 2.5 gallon version, can you add both to the same 5 gallon keg to ferment  once your done?  How would that work?  Thanks again for your input!
Yes. You can ferment both in the same vessel. But not in a 5 gallon vessel. You need head room. 5 gallon batches need a 5.5-6 gallon fermenter (six is better IMHO.)

You could cool the first 2.5 gallons and pitch yeast. Then, when the second 2.5 gallons is ready you could pour that in (after cooling). You can even wait a day for the second batch.
That's the traditional German method called Darauflassen --  roughly "lay it on there" --  run one wort onto the previous as the first comes into Kräusen.   Used to build up yeast for a vigorous fermentation.
I call it tripping into German goodness. Thanks, Robert, I didn’t know that.
Title: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: banjo-guy on February 24, 2018, 11:46:31 AM
I’ve been using a Zymatic since they were first sold to the public. I wasn’t in on the kick starter. The best thing about Picobrew is their top notch customer service. I can’t overstate that. They have backed the machine 100%. I haven’t paid one cent for shipping or parts and I was out of warranty for most of my issues.

That said I’ve had a few mechanical breakdowns. I assume Pico has used early adopters feedback and experience to address these issues.

If you love hi-tech you’ll love the Zymatic and the company is great.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 24, 2018, 04:48:05 PM
Like banjo-guy, I've used a Zymatic since they first came out.  I also have a couple Picos, and they sell kits of my recipes (full disclosure).  I've found all the systems easy to use to make great beer.  Unlike banjo-guy, I haven't had any issues with mine.  I think they're a  great way to make beer with the least amount of effort in terms of the physical stuff you don't want to do anyway!  And the customer service is about the best I've seen in any company.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 06:46:36 PM
Thanks for chiming in Robert, I went ahead and did a little research on Darauflassen thanks to your comment.  And thank you so much to both banjo-guy and denny for letting me know about their first hand experiences with the Zymatic.  Denny, do you use your other picos to test the picopaks that you've created as the Zymatic never got the picopak adapter it was supposed to.  That's one of the things I'm excited about with the "Z" is that it comes with the adapter.  Also, are either yourself or banjo-guy considering upgrading to the Z with their trade-in program?  Just curious if that's a popular option with Zymatic owners.  Thanks again!  Anymore input from anyone to keep the conversation going would be great!
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 24, 2018, 07:25:08 PM
Thanks for chiming in Robert, I went ahead and did a little research on Darauflassen thanks to your comment.  And thank you so much to both banjo-guy and denny for letting me know about their first hand experiences with the Zymatic.  Denny, do you use your other picos to test the picopaks that you've created as the Zymatic never got the picopak adapter it was supposed to.  That's one of the things I'm excited about with the "Z" is that it comes with the adapter.  Also, are either yourself or banjo-guy considering upgrading to the Z with their trade-in program?  Just curious if that's a popular option with Zymatic owners.  Thanks again!  Anymore input from anyone to keep the conversation going would be great!

Yeas, that's one reason I have the Picos.  Picobrew tells me they're sending me a Z4.  They built me a custom Zymatic, so I doubt I'll trade it in.  And again, AFAIK, there is no specific adapter for Paks.  I believe they redesigned the step filter so Paks would fit.  But I'm not certain.  I'll ask the next time I talk to them.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 24, 2018, 07:25:45 PM
Would you use a Carboy as your larger fermenting vessel? Or what would you recommend?

Buckets or 10 gal. corny
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 24, 2018, 08:05:06 PM
That's awesome Denny!  You must have a good relationship with the company.  My curiosity can't help but ask, how did they customize your Zymatic, what special tweaks did they include for you?  Thanks!
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 24, 2018, 10:08:28 PM
That's awesome Denny!  You must have a good relationship with the company.  My curiosity can't help but ask, how did they customize your Zymatic, what special tweaks did they include for you?  Thanks!

I'm in their ads and have tested a bunch of stuff for them.  The sell Paks of my Little RIPA Rye IPA, my Bourbon Vanilla Imperial POrter and I think a couple others.  For the custom unit, they added a plate on the front that says "Badass" and put on a know that goes to 11.  ;)

https://www.picobrew.com/Store/products/zymatic.cshtml

https://picobrew.com/blog/2017/04/04/meet-home-brew-wizard-denny-conn/
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: banjo-guy on February 24, 2018, 11:00:23 PM
I preordered the new Z. They gave existing owners a nice discount and additional savings for referrals.

I trust the company but I really need to see specifics about the product before I go ahead with the purchase.
Denny has a much better idea of the new Z than I do. I’m pretty sure that he has seen it firsthand. ( or at least the new Z in its current state). He is sworn to secrecy!
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: NewBrewer on February 25, 2018, 12:34:49 AM
Ok Guys!

So I just pulled the trigger & bought the new PicoBrew Z as I went down the rabbit hole doing research I just couldn't stop myself. Plus it's fully refundable until it ships in July so I figured it was a no brainer to get the discount which expires on March 15th and then do more research.

I got to take advantage of the discount going on and used a coupon code from a forum member to get an extra $50 off. If anyone moves forward I would love for you to use my coupon code KYZ5R ...you'll save $50 and I'll save some money too. I love the community element of saving money on this item!  Also anyone with a Zymatic can exchange their current model for a $600 credit towards any of the Z models

Even though I pulled the trigger and just bought one I would love to still discuss the merits of this machine as I have till July to cancel if I want. Happy Brewing! So excited!
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: majorvices on February 25, 2018, 03:11:29 PM
I have a zymatic that I have had for over a year and I like it, aside from the tray cracking I have had no issues and PicoBrew replaced it for free. It's very easy to do back to back 2.5 gallon brews to get 5 gallons. A lot of people don't realize that most successful comercial breweries brew several times to fill one tank so there's absolutely no reason why you can't run two batches.

I'm interested in the Z but a little disappointed it isn't a whole new reworking of the system. Some of the cons of the Zymatic is the limited mash tun and I'm not super crazy about the way it handles hops. It also doesn't "boil" instead holds at 207 degrees. But it does work so I like it.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 25, 2018, 03:47:22 PM
I have a zymatic that I have had for over a year and I like it, aside from the tray cracking I have had no issues and PicoBrew replaced it for free. It's very easy to do back to back 2.5 gallon brews to get 5 gallons. A lot of people don't realize that most successful comercial breweries brew several times to fill one tank so there's absolutely no reason why you can't run two batches.

I'm interested in the Z but a little disappointed it isn't a whole new reworking of the system. Some of the cons of the Zymatic is the limited mash tun and I'm not super crazy about the way it handles hops. It also doesn't "boil" instead holds at 207 degrees. But it does work so I like it.

The fact that is gets to 207 has always been a non issue for me.  Has it been different for you?  And it's definitely a pretty much total reworking in terms of the intermals.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: majorvices on February 25, 2018, 04:31:14 PM
I guess I haven't had problems it just seems counter intuitive not to actually boil. I would prefer the hops be included in the boil and I guess you could do that with whole hops. Overall I really like the machine and have recommended it to other local brewers and breweries. But like every system out there it has its pros and cons.

I'm excited to see the changed they incorporate in the Z.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 25, 2018, 05:10:55 PM
I guess I haven't had problems it just seems counter intuitive not to actually boil. I would prefer the hops be included in the boil and I guess you could do that with whole hops. Overall I really like the machine and have recommended it to other local brewers and breweries. But like every system out there it has its pros and cons.

I'm excited to see the changed they incorporate in the Z.

Boiling is so last century!  :)  207 is well above both isomerization and pasteurization temps.  Due to the constant circulation, there's no need for a rolling boil.  Yeah, it's freaky at first, but when you stop to think about it it makes more sense.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: BrewBama on February 25, 2018, 07:07:28 PM
Based on that logic, would it makes sense for us that are still using 20th century propane burners out on the Big Deck to simply heat to just less than a boil?


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Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: denny on February 25, 2018, 07:18:27 PM
Based on that logic, would it makes sense for us that are still using 20th century propane burners out on the Big Deck to simply heat to just less than a boil?


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

The key to the Zymatic being able to do it is the constant circulation that mimics a rolling boil.  If you can do that, maybe it would be fine on other systems.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: Robert on February 25, 2018, 07:33:47 PM
Based on that logic, would it makes sense for us that are still using 20th century propane burners out on the Big Deck to simply heat to just less than a boil?


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The key to the Zymatic being able to do it is the constant circulation that mimics a rolling boil.  If you can do that, maybe it would be fine on other systems.
I've gone to barley a simmer for no more than 45 minutes, lid almost all the way on, getting barely 4% volume reduction.  I brew in a 10 gal stockpot over two burners on the stove, and with slightly different heat on each burner I get vigorous circulation of the wort.  The wort breaks readily, hop extraction is fantastic, and the wort quality is superior to anything I made before (beer too.)  I bet you COULD get good circulation on a propane burner.  I think my uneven heat really helps (I know big breweries sometimes use mechanical agitators to get circulation where their heat is very even.)  Maybe you could put a copper flame tamer under half the BK,  or disable a few of the burner elements on one side.  Low intensity is the way to go.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: Kevin on February 26, 2018, 09:47:06 PM
I'm also interested in purchasing a Pico Z to allow me to get serious about brewing. At the moment, I live in an apartment and having a full 5 gallon setup is impossible. I love the idea of 2.5 gallon batches but with the ability to increase volume in the future. I have thought about the Pico C and the Pico Pro but I don't like how limited you are with volume. Plus, you have to use Pico packs which limits experimentation.

I'm curious if anyone has actually seen a prototype and has any first-hand thoughts?

If you are interested in purchasing one as well, feel free to use my code (KZ6MX) http://z.picobrew.com?kid=KZ6MX (http://z.picobrew.com?kid=KZ6MX) to save $50. Full disclosure, it also helps me save some money too.
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: pacerra on February 28, 2018, 01:28:03 AM
This is the only machine I have ever brewed on. Great way to start you can do anything any other homebrewer can with this machine. Love it .

If you want a discount (I get a rebate also) use this link

https://www.picobrew.com/Store/Products/Z/?pbref=KZ5NK
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: pacerra on February 28, 2018, 01:42:50 AM
I wonder, if you brew two identical batches back to back in the 2.5 gallon version, can you add both to the same 5 gallon keg to ferment  once your done?  How would that work?  Thanks again for your input!


Yes that is done all the time. The new format is modular so you can set up in increments of 2.5 gallons but for me, I have always brewed on the zymatic which is 2.5. I upgraded and am staying at the 2.5 size but again I can double and ferment 5 gallons. (I’d rather brew different recipes and run multiple 2.5 gallon taps).

Again link below will give you (and me) a discount.

https://www.picobrew.com/Store/Products/Z/?pbref=KZ5NK
Title: Re: PicoBrew Z - Any thoughts for a new brewer?
Post by: pacerra on February 28, 2018, 01:51:00 AM
I have a zymatic that I have had for over a year and I like it, aside from the tray cracking I have had no issues and PicoBrew replaced it for free. It's very easy to do back to back 2.5 gallon brews to get 5 gallons. A lot of people don't realize that most successful comercial breweries brew several times to fill one tank so there's absolutely no reason why you can't run two batches.

I'm interested in the Z but a little disappointed it isn't a whole new reworking of the system. Some of the cons of the Zymatic is the limited mash tun and I'm not super crazy about the way it handles hops. It also doesn't "boil" instead holds at 207 degrees. But it does work so I like it.

The fact that is gets to 207 has always been a non issue for me.  Has it been different for you?  And it's definitely a pretty much total reworking in terms of the intermals.

Re: your comment on the hops just drop them into the brew keg at the appropriate time and don’t use the hop cages. I do this for flameout and whirlpool and use the cages for bitter and late addition hops. Flameout and whirlpool was the answer to my hop flavor(that and getting the water chem right).

Discount available with this link.

https://www.picobrew.com/Store/Products/Z/?pbref=KZ5NK