PicoBrew Pico Craft Beer Brewing Appliance

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PicoBrew Pico Craft Beer Brewing Appliance
Price: $599.99
Shipping Options:: $5 Standard
Shipping Estimates: Ships in 3-5 business days (Thursday, Feb 09 to Tuesday, Feb 14) + transit
Condition: Factory Reconditioned

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5 Stars at Best Buy

I bought this in PicoBrew’s Kickstarter campaign, and I would warn prospective buyers to be VERY wary if you are not already comfortable with homebrewing. I have made four beers on mine since September (blonde, stout, IPA and wheat) in vastly different temperatures, and all but the IPA (probably because it was dry hopped) have an apple juice overtone. They do NOT taste remotely normal - I’ve had a lot of well made homebrews (two that I made myself with a homebrewing friend), and these are botched. I suspect this is a yeast problem and not a sanitizing problem since it happened in brand new brewing and serving kegs. I mention temperature because you’re warned to stay within the listed temperature range, which is very difficult in my apartment because there’s no central air. I had wild temperature fluctuations for the first two beers (mid Atlantic summer and fall) so I started fermenting in the basement, where the thermostat is set high 60s. Nothing has worked. You will also spend hours emailing back and forth with PicoBrew support, because the manual is missing A LOT of basic information - like, how to clean and sanitize after brewing (which is a joke with the unwieldy keg brush they give you). I’m not kidding. I also had to ship back the faceplate circuits when the pump refused to shut off. This is NOT a simple way to brew. If you have perfect temperature control and maybe use different yeast, you might get a halfway normal beer. I’m going to make a couple more, and if they fail like the first four, I’m selling it.

Note this is the Pico, not the Zymatic – will only brew the Pico-packs from the Picobrew website (although they now have the Freestyle roll-your-own packs).

I don’t know, folks. You can buy a lot of craft beer for $600.

For $600 you can start brewing for real very easily.

http://www.northernbrewer.com/fermenters-favorites-essential-all-grain-brewing-starter-kit-7-gallon

http://www.northernbrewer.com/deluxe-brewing-starter-kit

Yeah, for about $100, you can get set up for home brewing and be brewing 5 gallon batches at a time, though you won’t have the dispensing keg at that price, you’ll be using bottles which actually is easier and doesn’t take up nearly the fridge space.

I wouldn’t call bottles easier. Kegging is a lot easier long term, just requires more up front investment in equipment.

The apple juice overtones are definitely a fermentation issue that has nothing to do with the appliance itself. Typically it’s from fermenting at too warm of a temperature. I have no idea what kind of instructions they give with this, but fermentation temperature requirements is dependent on which strain of yeast you are using. Most ale strains you want to ferment in the low to mid 60’s. If you are measuring temperature on the outside of your fermentation vessel, it will also typically read a few degrees cooler than it really is where the active fermentation is going on, so you need to take that into account too. Finally, you should perform a diacetyl rest, which simply involves raising the temperature to 65-68F for a two day period near the close of the fermentation. While you can still make good beer without controlling your temperature like this, you will definitely get much better results with temperature control during fermentation.

An easy way to achieve this kind of control is to use a temperature controller like https://www.amazon.com/Inkbird-Itc-308-Temperature-Controller-Thermostat/dp/B01MDSWXY4 with an old refrigerator, freezer, or chest freezer. There are other ways to do it, but those are the most common in the hobby it seems.

For anyone that is seriously interested in homebrewing, or has questions or needs help with it, I’d highly recommend http://homebrewtalk.com/ as a resource.

I realize this is just to illustrate a point, but i’d be remiss not to note that Anheiser-Busch recently purchased Northern Brewer and Midwest Supplies. Please, shop elsewhere.

This is a lot of money for something you can literately do in a plastic bucket.
Or, if you want to jump start your home brew, You can get a Mr Beer reusable beer making kit for >$50.
https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Beer-Long-Craft-Making/dp/B01LYRAR0B
Meh.com has these for $25 from time to time.
https://meh.com/forum/topics/mr--beer-homebrewing-kit

There are almost 500, small batch craft brew, breweries in my relatively small area. It’s equal to about 1 brewery for every 1200 man, woman, and child. Filter that down to the numbers of people who drink beer and you have roughly one craft brewery in town for every 200 beer drinking people. One place has 101 local and regional beers on tap every day!
Anyway, I used to make my own beer but, wow, what a hassle and I couldn’t make it as good as some of these places where, for a few dollars I can go and fill my growlers with as many different beers as I can imagine.
For a hobby, beer making is really fun and rewarding. To turn it into a K-cup’ish type set-up just doesn’t seem to me to have any appeal whatsoever.
There. That’s my $.02

This is very helpful, and completely missing from the Pico manual that PicoBrew included. I’m looking at it now, and here’s what it says for the “fast fermentation” schedule (there’s also “standard fermentation” which takes an “average 10 days”):

75-84 F = 5 days fermentation
70-74 F = 5-6 days
65-69 F = 6-7 days

It gives no indication that outer temperature is a few degrees lower than active fermentation temperature - they give you a stick-on thermometer for the brewing keg.

And yes, I’m highly suspicious of the dry yeast packets they provide, but I’m worried about even weirder things happening if I buy my own yeast.

I seriously wish you the1brian were advising me when I started this. PicoBrew clearly did not think through how to explain things clearly to a newbie audience.

I’m one of the original kickstarter backers, but I also had some previous brewing experience at least 10 years ago using carboys and plastic buckets.

This is not as easy as portrayed, but certainly easier than when I was doing it with buckets. Much more compact and lots of experimentation. It took me 5 batches to get to the point where I enjoy the beer. Average 10 days fermentation even with the fast fermentation adaptor. I also only pitch half as much yeast as they put in the instructions. They also don’t tell you about clarifying the beer by using whirlfloc or cold crashing, but you quickl learn to do both. The serving kegs are annoying, I started tapping the brew kegs (I now own 4).

If you are looking to start brewing, this is a great price for this machine. Brewing beer, no matter what format you take, involves lots of trial and error. Anyone looking to make beer cheaper than purchasing it is mistaken. I brew beer because it’s like an art not because it’s easy or cheap.

Gotcha! I do like Wind River Brewing.

I would never ferment a beer at the temperatures listed. Anything over 72 degrees can result in off flavors and yeast issues. Yes it will ferment faster. But it will taste much worse. I ferment most of my ales at 64-68 degrees for 4-6 days then I raise the temp to 70-72 to finish.