A Seattle startup has developed what it calls a “3D printer for beer” — a device that can be used by just about anyone inside their own home to brew craft beer.
PicoBrew, which already brought you a badass high-tech beer-maker in the form of its Zymatic product, today launched a Kickstarter for Pico, the smaller, faster, and easier-to-use version of the Zymatic that is half the cost.
The company’s first product was the PicoBrew Zymatic, a $1,999 beer-making machine that allows amateur brewers to easily craft delicious stouts, porters and IPAs on their kitchen countertops. PicoBrew raised more than $660,000 with its initial Kickstarter and has now shipped more than 1,200 Zymatic devices.
The Pico, on the other hand, retails for $999 and at a limited time price of just $499 for those that pre-order from the Kickstarter campaign. While the Zymatic targeted brewing professionals, the Pico is more for the home craft beer enthusiast.
“This is the main step in our ‘get the world brewing’ mission for the company,” PicoBrew CEO Bill Mitchell told GeekWire. “It’s the culmination of five years of work — it’s a big deal for us.”
The Pico uses similar technology that you’ll find in the PicoBrew, but with reduced complexity and cost. The device itself measures 12 inches wide, weighs 31 pounds — it’s half the size of the Zymatic — and produces five liters of fresh beer after one brewing session.
A key part of Pico is the new PicoPak system, which features pre-packaged ingredient combinations available from brewers and breweries around the world. All the user has to do is fill a keg with water, load the hop and grain modules with the pre-packaged products, and hit “brew” — after brewing, the beer is fermented by adding yeast from the PicoPak, and then transferred to five liter serving kegs and carbonated.
“Pico uses ready-to-brew PicoPaks from breweries around the world so customers don’t have to figure out where to acquire great grain and hops, and so even new brewers can brew great beer the first time,” Mitchell noted.
Mitchell added that he hopes the Pico will act as a “3D printer for beer” that helps bring together craft brewers and customers.
“This is really going to be disruptive,” he said. “We’re effectively creating a worldwide farmers market for craft beer which bypasses conventional big beer brewers and connects customers directly with craft brewers.”
PicoBrew also recently created a PicoBrew BrewMarketplace, which lets any brewer publish their beer ingredient combination and earn royalties on every sale.
“BrewMarketplace is like a giant App Store for beer,” Mitchell said. “Any craft brewer and even homebrewers can join our PicoBrew Developers Program and develop their own PicoPaks which they then earn royalties on. BrewMarketplace is an entirely new channel for beer distribution worldwide that works around some of the consolidation that has occurred in beer distribution, and allows small brewers worldwide to sell their wares to a global audience without restriction.”
The Pico is PicoBrew’s third product. Earlier this year, it rolled out a second product called KegSmarts, a Wi-Fi enabled device that hooks up to a standard kegerator and provides information on an OLED display like temperature, quantity, and type of beer — all of which can be monitored and controlled from a mobile device.
PicoBrew, which has raised $5 million to date, now employs 33. The company was founded in 2013 by Mitchell, who spent nearly two decades at Microsoft leading teams that developed PDAs, smartphones, and wearable computing; his brother, Jim; and Avi Geiger, another former Microsoft employee.