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The craft brewery revolution is well underway in the United States, which means it’s becoming easier than ever to find unique, small-batch brews across the country. And now, the latest craft brewery to emerge is staking its claim in none other than your kitchen, and it’s all thanks to the PicoBrew’s Pico C . This sleek, affordable home-brewing machine offers beer enthusiasts a new way to explore their passion — by actually taking part in the creation process via an easy-to-use, easy-to-clean machine that fits on a countertop.
Part of the extensive PicoBrew family, the Pico C is one of the more recent offerings to come out of the company. But thanks to years of crowdsourced feedback and refinement ( all of PicoBrew’s products have gone through Kickstarter ), the Pico C stands as one of the most user-friendly offerings yet.
The real value proposition of the Model C is that you’re able to condense the many steps of beer-making into a single machine, which means a lot less waiting around for you.
As the girlfriend of a rather committed (old school) home brewer, I’ve spent many an afternoon quite literally watching a pot boil as my dear dedicated beer maker heated water with grains, added hops, and painstakingly waited for the temperature to come down to just the right level to pitch his yeast. And as fascinating as this may be to the innocent bystander, it’s still much less efficient than the process offered by the Pico C.
So how exactly do you get started with the Pico C?
Once you’ve unpacked the machine, you’ll need to connect it to your Wi-Fi network and log into your PicoBrew account (create one beforehand to save yourself some time). You have to have an internet connection in order for this machine to work because the Pico C needs to be able to read RFID codes, and upload brewing instructions.
When you first use the Model C, you’ll want to complete a “first rinse,” which cleans all the requisite parts. It takes about 10 minutes, and will have you assembling the brew keg, filling said keg and the reservoir with water, and connecting the keg hoses.
Once this is done, you’ll insert your PicoPak (think of it as a Keurig pod for beer) into the main filter bin, fill the attached keg with water, and push start. While you can make some adjustments yourself by turning the knob on the machine (changing the ABV and aspects of the taste), it’s not necessary, and if you’re looking to cut down on steps, you can certainly forego this part. Then, once you’re locked and loaded, the Pico C will keep you updated on the status of the brew via the companion web portal.
The brewing itself will take between two and three hours depending on the recipe, and then you’ll need to let it sit to ferment and carbonate. The machine is pretty loud, though it’s not quite as bad as, say, a vacuum cleaner.
Two to three hours later, the boiling process will have been completed, and you’ll be left with hot wort. From there, just seal the fermentation keg ports, and let everything cool overnight. The next day, once the keg is at room temperature, you can add your yeast, and give the entire mixture about one to two weeks to ferment. Afterwards, you’ll place the keg in your fridge in order to get cold, and let the yeast and other residue settle to the bottom.
Finally, the Pico C will come back into action, pressurizing your keg and pushing your beer into the serving keg. Once this is filled, you’ll throw in the provided sugar and pop on a seal in order to carbonate the keg and finish the fermentation process. And in about another two weeks or so, you’ll have beer that’s ready to drink. Alternatively, if you’d like to speed up this last bit, you can use a force carbonating kit, which adds those bubbles in a matter of days instead of weeks.
All this to say, this countertop machine allows you to heat water, mash, boil, and ferment, all in one. It also cuts down significantly on the amount of transferring that you may have to do from your boiling pot to your fermenting keg and back to your finishing keg (though as detailed above, there is still some pouring involved), which means it creates a whole lot less of a mess.
Really, for a novice brewer like myself, what I loved best about the Pico C was that there were surprisingly few steps involved.
In fact, much of the work takes place before you ever begin, as you’ll have to make your way over to the Brew Marketplace to create a PicoPak, that small packet of ingredients that you’ll stick in your Pico C and turn into beer over the course of a couple weeks. You can either search for existing PicoPaks created by professionals in the PicoBrew community, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can create your own, adjusting ingredients like the grains, hops, and dry hops. You can even see how your edits affect the ABV of your beer, and other key metrics.
Unlike traditional home brewing, you won’t be monitoring temperatures or be responsible for adding hops or yeast at specific times, nor will you need to deal with the mashing process by hand. Really, you’ll just need to push a few buttons, and let the Pico C do the rest. And again, having watched the home-brewing process from afar (and then done this process up close) there is no doubt in my mind that this is by far the more convenient route to go.
Not only is the brewing process straightforward, but so too is the cleaning setup.
In standard brewing, there’s quite a bit of sanitizing that needs to happen in order for your beer to be safe and palatable. With the Pico C, all the parts that need to be cleaned can be run through the dishwasher, and while you’ll still have to do some liquid transferring, the keg hoses are quite easy to connect, which means that there’s generally less spillage involved.
Oh, and as an added bonus, the Pico C not only lets you create home brews, but will also features a built-in sous vide machine. It’ll take a lot less time for you to cook your dinner in this hot water bath than it will for you to make a batch of beer, and is, in fact, quite effective at delivering well-cooked, tender food products.
For the most serious of home brewers — those who are perhaps dedicated to the art and science of making beer — having the equivalent of a Keurig create alcoholic beverages may not be the most exciting proposition. But even so, it is an extremely convenient and easy-to-use method of creating what I found to be surprisingly delicious beer (thanks to PicoBrew’s partnerships with a wide range of local breweries who provide the recipes for the PicoPaks ). And if you’re just getting started making your own beer, I really can’t think of a better way to get introduced.