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At Picobrew’s CES 2016 booth on the show floor in Las Vegas.

Walking past startup booth after startup booth on the show floor at CES can get a little repetitive — each company with employees talking about their products, maybe a few demos here and there, perhaps some business cards and pamphlets to take home.

But at booth No. 72351 inside the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, one Seattle startup did something a little out of the ordinary to catch your attention.

PicoBrew, the Seattle-based company that builds at-home beer-making machines, was probably the only exhibiting startup at CES to wheel in a vintage 1960’s Citroën H Van to their booth.

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The vehicle itself belongs to George Dyke, a PicoBrew board member and leading angel investor who also happens to be the largest Citroën collector in Canada.

Several months ago, the PicoBrew team was trying to come up with marketing ideas that would help get more PicoBrew-made beer in the hands of customers. That’s when Dyke noted how the Citroën is still used as a food truck in Europe and volunteered one of his vehicles for the company to use at CES.

“We’re an unconventional company, so we rebelled strongly against the idea of doing a conventional booth anyway,” PicoBrew CEO Bill Mitchell told GeekWire. “This was a no-brainer.”


The set-up certainly attracted a lot of attention, with folks stopping to check out the van and taste some beer.

“The awesome thing is that we are at a show where we have mostly technologists and people who love beer — the Venn diagram is 100 percent overlapping,” Mitchell said. “So people stroll along and say, ‘wait, tech and beer?’ What’s not to like about that, right?”

PicoBrew not only attracted the attention of CES attendees, which include media, investors, and other industry insiders. The startup has been a CES Innovation Award honoree for the past two years — in 2015, it won an award for its original high-tech Zymatic beer-maker, which allows amateur brewers to easily craft delicious stouts, porters and IPAs on their kitchen countertops. This year, it won for Pico, the smaller, faster, and easier-to-use version of the Zymatic that is half the cost.

PicoBrew’s Pico device was a 2016 CES Innovation Award honoree.

This was PicoBrew’s second appearance at CES. Mitchell, a former Microsoft executive who co-founded the company in 2010 with his brother Jim and former Microsoft colleague Avi Geiger, said he enjoys being around so many other founders at CES. The CEO also noted that several of PicoBrew’s Kickstarter backers were at the show and came to the company’s booth to try some of the dozen sample beers that PicoBrew brewed specifically for CES.

“We’ve had a great opportunity here to mix it up with people that are most likely to appreciate this product,” Mitchell said. “If you love craft beer and love the art of creation and technology, it’s kind of got all three.”

See more from PicoBrew at CES with our video below, where my colleague John Cook and I filmed our daily recap from the company’s booth in Las Vegas:

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