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Meet the PicoBrew Zymatic, the the world’s first fully automatic all-grain beer brewing system.

Brewing your own craft beer at home is a difficult, complicated and time-consuming process. Now, two former Microsoft veterans want to help you make a perfect glass of beer in less than an hour and with a push of a button.

picobrew4In what is probably one of the more badass Kickstarter campaigns we’ve seen, a Seattle-based company called PicoBrew has developed what they call the world’s first fully automatic all-grain beer brewing system that’s the size of a microwave.

The PicoBrew Zymatic basically allows you to have a full-scale brewery on your kitchen countertop. The device is simply a brewing box connected by hose to a Cornelius keg.

To make beer, you pour in your desired amount of malted barley, hops and water, then push a couple buttons to set a recipe. Three-and-a-half hours later, that water turns into beer. All you need to do is add yeast and let your new concoction ferment for a week and voila — you’ve got great-tasting craft beer at your disposal.

“It is, essentially, an espresso-maker for beer,” Bill Mitchell said in the Kickstarter video below.

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The PicoBrew team. Co-founder Avi Geiger is third from left and to his right is fellow co-founder Jim Mitchell. Third from the right is Jim’s brother and PicoBrew’s third co-founder, Bill Mitchell.

Mitchell, his brother Jim and Avi Geiger are the co-founders of PicoBrew. Mitchell is well-known in Microsoft circles, having spent nearly two decades leading teams that developed PDAs, smartphones, automotive and wearable computing.

Back in 2010, he reached out to his brother, Jim, a food scientist and physicist who followed in the footsteps of his father, Dr. William Mitchell, the inventor of Pop Rocks, Tang, Cool Whip and other foods. Using an off-the-shelf Arduino-based controller, off-the-shelf pumps, relays, valves and a custom heating loop, the brothers began building a proof-of-concept device to brew beer at home.

Things were going well after one year, but there was a big void for engineering work needed to take the Zymatic to the next level. That’s when Geiger, another Microsoft vet who worked on several hardware devices in Redmond, joined the team and became the third co-founder.

Then, in August of 2012, PicoBrew set up shop in a 4,000 square-foot space in North Lake Union that served as both a lab and office space. A few other employees came on board and the company spent the next year refining the machine (and brewing a ton of beer in the process). Now they’re nearly ready to sell the Zymatic to customers and just need some Kickstarter money to finish the production process.

picobrew5There’s some sweet technology behind the Zymatic. The PicoBrew Recipe Crafter is a web-based software that logs data and records recipes so you can brew identical beer time after time. Brewers can also share and import recipes made by others.

“What people can do with this machine is limited only by their own imaginations,” Mitchell said.

The Zymatic, which can be easily cleaned in a dishwasher, may also appeal to more than just individuals brewing at home.

“The amount of time we can save using this is incredible,” said James McDermet of Fremont Brewery in the video. “It basically allows us to do the pilot brews that we can’t fit into our big brew system. It’s pretty incredibly engineered.”

Paul Shipman, founder of Redhook Brewery, calls the Zymatic a “breakthrough.”

“The craft brewers address small audiences, but not down to individual human taste of one or two individuals,” Shipman said.

As of Monday afternoon, less than 12 hours after launching the Kickstarter, PicoBrew was already one-third of the way to its $150,000 funding goal. The 25 pilot Zymatic’s, which sold for $1,299, are already gone, while the 75 machines at $1,399 are sure to run out soon if today’s interest is any indication.

Comments

  • Justin F

    Is ‘north lake union’ the same thing as wallingford?

    • Taylor Soper

      Basically. They’re right near Gas Works Park.

  • Out For Justice

    Sweet! Great job! Now that is inspiring.

  • tcanova

    Correction, three and a half hours later the water turns into wort. Add the yeast and then a week later you have beer.

  • Michael

    As an all-grain homebrewer, I find this to be nothing more than a novelty. I don’t think the guys involved with production actually homebrew themselves or even enjoy homebrewing. Homebrewing is not tedious or dull. We ENJOY the steps involved as well as the time it takes. It’s a skill, an art. These guys have it all wrong. Best of luck to them though. I expect to see this in the SkyMall magazine alongside the overpriced flex belt ab toner.

    • Annie

      It’s not a novelty, it’s just not for you. I am a 18 year all-grain home brewer.
      I like the machine for the multiple rests you can program. Also for yeast and hopexperiments. It’s my pilot system. Cost is relative. I have two Blichman 25 gallon kettles…. and burners…. fermenters…. corny kegs up the ying yang…. I just spent $200 on false bottoms…
      People used to think cell phones were a novelty, too.
      Cheers dude

  • Jacob

    Get out of here with this nonsense.

  • Frank

    Essentially what they’re saying from this video is: “We’d love homebrewing if we didn’t have to homebrew”.

    It’s not homebrewed if you didn’t make it yourself. Using a 1300 dollar machine to have it make beer FOR you is NOT homebrewing, plain and simple. It’s called being lazy.

    What a shame. This device is an insult to homebrewers and the art of craft brewing. I seriously hope it fails.

  • Matt

    this product is a complete disgrace to homebrewing. ill agree with my fellow homebrewers below. all of the “issues” with homebrewing they mention are some of the things that you do to say “hey i made this myself” not hey a machine made this for me. go buy a 6-pack if you have any of the same views as the guys making this project

  • Buddy

    Can it make a 20 Gal batch.

  • GSW

    How do you make multiple hop additions? How is the water added and is there an opportunity to make changes to the water profile? How about sparging – is this a no sparge system, if so it won’t be as efficient. And what about fermentation, something that makes a huge difference in flavor? It looks like you ferment in the corney keg – but then you will leave beer on dead yeast – so you better drink fast or autolysis will make it taste like meat. So many questions, but this things doesn’t look that earth shattering to me. As far as controlling temperatures and even programming in both mash and boil temperatures with digital controllers or laptops that’s already been done. Buy an electric brewery with the same types of controls to make more beer for less and still have more variables you are able to control if you so choose.

    • Aaron

      There is no worry about autolysis unless they don’t drink the beer within several months.

      I’m more concerned that the wort is never boiled.

      Also, there aren’t many beers you can drink after a week of fermentation…at least not many with complexity.

      • GSW

        Yeast – yes, it wont matter if consumed quickly, but unitank extract systems a few brewpubs use seem to suffer from muddy beer, but yest that minor. Boiling – I didn’t see that either. Does the wort go into a compartment in the machine to boil for an hour? It seems like these guys spent a lot of time on the processor and basically cut out key steps in the process. I feel sorry for people that paid so much for this thing.

      • 862

        transfer the wort into a fermentation bucket ., run 2 batches to get 5 G . then ferment while you use the system to make another 2.5 G of something else

    • 862

      I read up on this and there is no sparging and only about 50 to 65% efficiency .
      It does not boil . It runs water through the whole system and you ferment in the keg but it has a filter that i assume filters the wort before it goes into the keg .
      you then transfer the beer to your keg system or bottle .
      I am thinking of getting one to avoid the picking up of heavy pots and tuns as I have a bad back . Seems like a good thing as far as that is concerned

  • GSW

    How do you make multiple hop additions? How is the water added and is there an opportunity to make changes to the water profile? How about sparging – is this a no sparge system, if so it won’t be as efficient. And what about fermentation, something that makes a huge difference in flavor? It looks like you ferment in the corney keg – but then you will leave beer on dead yeast – so you better drink fast or autolysis will make it taste like meat. So many questions, but this things doesn’t look that earth shattering to me. As far as controlling temperatures and even programming in both mash and boil temperatures with digital controllers or laptops that’s already been done. Buy an electric brewery with the same types of controls to make more beer for less and still have more variables you are able to control if you so choose.

  • GSW

    As Aaron pointed out where does the boiling of the wort occur?

    • divechief

      I assume it boils the wort. I see three tanks that might use the hops for different additions. I can maybe see this for a micro brewery trying different styles. there are enough Micro and Pico’s around maybe they will find a market. I don’t see it controlling water chemistry. That is a way for a home brewer taking it to the next level.

      I don’t see this cracking the home brewer market but good luck to them.

  • Nick Pederson

    Don’t these people understand that homebrewers are frugal as all hell.

  • Travis

    Hasbro Easy Brew Oven / Peek-a-Brew. I only find one reason to consider this a useful brewing tool. Homebrewers, forget it, but for commercial brewers, this will allow them to make small QC test batches. Adding new flavors, adjuncts, mashing grains at different temps, extraction testing of amount of crush you apply to grain. New types of hops. Blending. For a homebrewer, this machine is a waste of valuable time. But for a commercial brewer, this will allow them to be creative without sacrificing a larger batch a beer which requires a larger grain/hop/yeast bill.

  • Michael Richards

    As cheesy as this looks and sounds, I think this concept can give a new
    dimension for creative brewers and engineers in the future to rethink
    and re innovate the brew process. I’ve been sitting here for hours
    tonight pricing out complete home brew systems and looking at plans and
    specs, etc., and it’s a lot of work, time, and money. If anything, it
    seems like a very inexpensive way to create new recipes.

  • Annie

    Dear Geeks,
    I homebrew and was skeptical so I wrote and asked to see the machine. It does boil, it does mash, it allows for multiple hop additions.
    It us not an espresso maker for beer. That was not a good comment.
    You design your own recipes or use theirs which are all good. I should know, I helped design them. You can change your water chemistry the same as home.
    The machine uses the corny to heat your mash water. A filter box holds the grain and water is recirculated through it at gentle rate to extract sugars. You can program in as many stepsas you want. TThat’s an achievement some home brewers have a problem with.
    There is no art lost. You still ferment the beer and either push it out to another corny for serving or bottle it.
    Home brewers are not frugal! I have plenty of $$ invested in my 25 gallon system that doesn’t include my kegorator or fermentation chambers.
    Honestly, a Brew Magic is $6500 and you load it up and press a few buttons.
    It’s not for every established home brewer but what do you care if it brings more people into the hobby?! Your local homebrew shop will get more customers. More beer enthusiasts who appreciate better beer.
    Feel free to send me a note and I can answer questions directly.
    @Buffalowing on Twitter. Cheers! Annie Johnson AHA Home brewer of the Year 2013

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