Author Topic: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter  (Read 2091 times)

Offline galapagos jim

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PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« on: September 30, 2013, 02:15:17 PM »
Two new homebrew appliances launched on Kickstarter recently.

PicoBrew
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1708005089/picobrew-zymatic-the-automatic-beer-brewing-applia

BrewBot
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cargo/brewbot-the-smart-brewing-appliance

I'm curious what other homebrewers think of the idea of an automated brewing machine. What's your opinion? Would you use one of these machines? Have you kicked them?

I'm fascinated by the machines but my opinion is mixed. There's an obvious problem to solve that I feel the pain of: all-grain homebrewing is a time-consuming hobby with lots of tedious clean-up work. Yet I can't help feeling that to an experienced homebrewer, these machines are like selling a bread-making machine to a baker. Yes, it's consistent and has good mechanics but it blinds you from the intricacies of the process and the limitations of the machine can restrict creativity.

(Then again, I'm an advocate for creativity being inspired by constricted conditions so I could be talking out my arse here.)

From a marketing standpoint there's the "it's so simple anyone can do it" aspect of a brewing machine. That's nice, but the lack of instant gratification in brewing, not the complexity, is what I think will prevent even this type of machine from entering the mass market. A good number of these, like many a homebrew kit, are probably going to gather dust in the garage after the initial novelty wears off. After all, you don't need a $1500 machine to make good beer: at a minimum you need a big soup pot and a bucket.

The fact that these machines don't manage the fermentation process bothers me. These are really just wort-making machines. That's the more complex part of the process if you brew all-grain but it's only half of the story. The endorsement by White Labs is a little puzzling to me.

Maybe I have too much invested in my current practices to see the value in this level of automated brewing. I'm biased for sure.

I did have an opportunity earlier this year to taste beer produced by one of the prototype PicoBrew boxes. A friend of mine knows one of the founders and passed me a growler of machine-brewed porter. It was good but not remarkable. Too roasty for my tastes, somewhat light-bodied and lacked complexity in the flavor, but nothing technically wrong with the beer.

And worth noting these projects aren't the first to market with a homebrew machine:
http://www.williamswarn.com/

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2013, 02:49:13 PM »
Are any of these machines self-cleaning or do they just do the fun part and make me their b!tch?
« Last Edit: September 30, 2013, 05:04:28 PM by Big Al »

Offline denny

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2013, 08:51:40 AM »
Not interested.  I brew for the brewing, not the beer.  Well, not as much as the brewing...;)
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2013, 09:04:34 AM »
I'm sure there's a market. There is already a market for fully automated systems from Sabco/Morebeer/Blickmann and besides time, space is a constraint for many - especially those in cities or apartments. These are the first systems I've seen that allow full recipe control and all-grain brewing - so that's cool! I think the picobrew even lets you set mash steps. If you can pick your grain, hops, mash temps, etc, all the rest is just labor. Plenty of people spend money to reduce labor. And at $1300 for picobrew, it's well under the cost of a larger system.
 
I do think a thermoelectric fermentation chamber custom designed to hold a keg would be a great add-on.
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Offline narvin

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 09:37:45 AM »
Like most gadgets that try to do everything but can't do any one thing well, these would end up sitting in the corner collecting dust
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Offline galapagos jim

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2013, 10:54:32 AM »
Are any of these machines self-cleaning or do they just do the fun part and make me their b!tch?

The video and FAQ for PicoBrew say that the bins are dishwasher-safe. They do caution to use enzymatic cleaning tablets, not regular dishwasher soap. There supposedly also a cleaning cycle for the machine innards. Fairly well thought-out, IMO.

I don't recall the BrewBot page talking much about cleaning. It's been a while since I looked at the WilliamsWarm but I think it has an automatic cleaning cycle.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2013, 07:08:19 AM »
Yet I can't help feeling that to an experienced homebrewer, these machines are like selling a bread-making machine to a baker.

One of them actually advertises that point on its kickstarter page. I thought that was a strange pitch for a hobby.
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Offline gymrat

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2013, 07:20:48 AM »
Those machines would take the fun out of brewing for me. If you want something so easy anybody can do it go with a Mr Beer or Brew Demon kit. Those are a lot cheaper.
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Offline tcanova

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2013, 07:52:48 AM »
Yeah but what kind of efficiency does it get, cause I get.....  ;D
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2013, 08:59:54 AM »
Yeah but what kind of efficiency does it get, cause I get.....  ;D

Paint it blue and the efficiency increases by 10%. ;)
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Offline bwana

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 10:00:31 AM »
If I got one of these how could I justify spending 10 ours out in my garage watching football?

Offline geek_chaser

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 05:23:33 PM »
My husband does the clean up.  ;D  so I'm good with what I've got.
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Offline jamminbrew

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 08:59:32 PM »
" We started PicoBrew LLC in early 2010 out of frustration with the state of the art:  home beer brewing takes entirely too much time, is too imprecise, and frankly, when you account for all of the clean-up, is not all that fun."
" Or perhaps you have home-brewed before, but you're painfully aware of the time and effort involved:  6-8 hours of tedious brewing, then messy cleanup and potentially bad batches and batch-to batch variability..."

I rather doubt this guy ever really brewed before. I enjoy pretty much the whole process, even the cleaning.
Neat gadget. Not for me.
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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2013, 05:10:26 AM »
So you just chill it in an ice bath, pitch at room temperature, and after 5-7 days hit it with 20 psi overnight and it's ready to drink? Wow! And all this time I've been doing it the other way!

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: PicoBrew and BrewBot: new homebrew appliances on Kickstarter
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2013, 07:42:37 AM »
So you just chill it in an ice bath, pitch at room temperature, and after 5-7 days hit it with 20 psi overnight and it's ready to drink? Wow! And all this time I've been doing it the other way!

Did either say fermentation is complete after 5-7 days?
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