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PicoBrew - Bill Mitchell
PicoBrew ‘s Bill Mitchell at the GeekWire Summit 2014

PicoBrew, whose high-tech beer making machine allows amateur brewers to easily craft delicious stouts, porters and IPAs on their kitchen countertops, is in hop heaven.

The Seattle startup just secured another $1.2 million in angel financing.

The new funding will be used to bolster manufacturing, with co-founder Bill Mitchell telling GeekWire that sales are soaring. In fact, he said demand is so strong for the Zymatic beer-making machine that they’ve had a “hard time making a dent” in their order backlog.

The Picobrew Zymatic
The Picobrew Zymatic

New competitors with geeky beer-making machines also are emerging, looking to tap into the craft beer making craze. Earlier this week, CNET reported on the Brewie beer making robot, a 55-pound, $2,000 high-tech beer making device that automatically makes 5.2 gallon batches of beer.

Mitchell tells us that PicoBrew has a four-year head start on his new rivals.

“We’re starting to see some fast-followers on the crowd-funding sites so we’re spending time to make sure that our hard-work and IP is not just copied by knock-off product companies,” said Mitchell, who prior to PicoBrew spent nearly two decades at Microsoft leading teams that developed PDAs, smartphones and wearable computers.

PicoBrew raised $1.2 million earlier this year, and it shattered its KickStarter goal last year by raising $661,026.

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. The device also offers a way to mimic great craft beers — say an oaky oatmeal Stout or raspberry wheat ale — using what the company dubs its “predictive recipe crafter tool.

Given all of the whiz-bang gadgetry, Mitchell has dubbed the device an “espresso maker for beer.” At this point, Mitchell said they’ve conducted 1,000 test batches, refining the process.

Like the Brewie, PicoBrew’s Zymatic device is not cheap, with a price tag of $1,799.

“Appliancizing brewing is a great goal, though  — our mantra is “getting the world brewing” —  and we think this new industry is going to be huge and there will be plenty of room for healthy competition to produce the best brewing appliance products, just like there is with espresso makers and bread machines,” he said.

Given the craft beer movement in places like Portland and Seattle — has anyone stepped inside Chuck’s Hop Shop lately? — the demand appears to be there for beer-making geeks.

Mitchell was one of the presenters at this year’s GeekWire Summit during our “Inventions We Love” segment, and you can watch his highly entertaining pitch below. “This little baby right here eats grain and hops and water, and poops out really great craft beer,” said Mitchell.

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