A lot happens at the intersection of Tech and Beer—especially in Seattle. But this time, we’re talking more about what you can brew at home and not how you can imbibe out in public.
On November 1, local startup PicoBrew is launching the Pico C, a countertop machine that takes state-of-the-art technology to turn pre-measured hops and grains into 5 liters of beer in two hours—though you’ll have to wait nearly two weeks for it to be carbonated and ready to drink. At $549, this isn’t exactly a cheap purchase. But compared to the many (many) six-packs some of us purchase or the mess and fuss of traditional home-brewing equipment, it’s not an unreasonable investment. And others seem to agree: In May, Pico C was wildly successful on Kickstarter, raising record-breaking $1.9 million (of a modest $350,000 goal) from 4,300 backers. Those units purchased have already shipped.
Pico C looks a little like a Nespresso machine, but there’s more sophisticated tech at play here. (In fact, today the mobile app—BrewPulse, a sort of virtual brewmaster—is available for free download.) The purchasable packs that you plug into the machine are from small craft breweries all around the country; local options include Stoup, Elysian, Populuxe and more. You can also brew kombucha (without keeping that weird science project in your fridge). And with the Pico C model, the company is adding PicoStill, a copper home distilling attachment that a whopping 40 percent of Kickstarter backers chose to add on. CEO Bill Mitchell, who started PicoBrew in 2010 with his brother Jim, says he expects that “craft spirits are poised to follow in craft beer’s footsteps.”
Bill Mitchell is a former Microsoft vice president; Jim is a food scientist and physicist. The rest of the team is CTO Avi Geiger and brewmaster Annie Johnson, who is the first woman recipient of the American Homebrewer Association’s Homebrewer of the Year award. If you experiment with recipes from the PicoBrew recipe library—many of those are her inventions. And hey, they're probably better than what your homebrewing buddy comes up with.