PicoBrew started as a beer-making machine company. Now it’s clear the vision goes beyond that.
The Seattle startup today unveiled its latest non-beer related product with the PicoStill, an attachment for the company’s Pico brewing machines that allows everyday people to distill hop oil, water, essential oils, and even spirits for those that have the proper licenses. It’s available on the Kickstarter page for PicoBrew’s new Pico C device, which just eclipsed $1 million raised two weeks after launch.
PicoStill uses a copper distilling coil to produce oils, including hop oils that are used by breweries to infuse hops aromas and flavors to a beer. The device speeds up the process also known as “dry hopping,” which typically takes up to a week and is traditionally done in large batches. With PicoStill, that same capability is now available to anyone at a faster clip and for small batches.
PicoBrew co-founders Bill Mitchell and Avid Geiger showed off the new device at the company’s growing North Lake Union office in Seattle.
“Adding hop essences is not a new concept, but we haven’t had an easy way to do it,” Mitchell told GeekWire.
Mitchell said that folks who have proper licensing and training (there are regulations around at-home distilling, particularly in the U.S.) can also distill spirits like vodka and whiskey with the PicoStill, which costs $170 or $499 when bundled with the Pico C. It will also retail for $349 when it arrives in stores this fall.
“If you have a license, you can have the ultimate cocktail and beverage machine setup for less than $500,” he noted.
In a statement, Nathan Kaiser, owner of 2bar Spirits in Seattle, called PicoStill an “an amazing tool for prototyping new batches of spirits as we perfect and expand on our line of vodka, bourbon and moonshine.”
“As a quickly growing craft distillery, the PicoStill will help us avoid costly and unnecessary large test batches so that we can make smart investments,” he added.
Pre-orders for the new device went on sale today as part of the Kickstarter for Pico C, a re-engineered version of the company’s automatic craft beer brewing appliance that is cheaper and smaller. The Kickstarter surpassed the $1 million mark on Monday morning and has already cracked the top 10 for most-funded Kickstarter campaigns ever.
Mitchell, a former Microsoft executive, founded PicoBrew in 2010 along with his brother, Jim Mitchell, a food scientist, and engineer Avi Geiger. Their first machine, the Zymatic, was introduced in 2013 and the first version of the Pico, aimed at kitchen-counter brewers, debuted in 2016.
PicoBrew’s mission has been to simplify the home beer making process by radically reducing the equipment and time needed to brew quality craft beer. Ready-to-brew PicoPaks containing the measured ingredients for beer are available from a wide range of brewers in the company’s BrewMarketplace. In October, GeekWire took home a Pico to run through the process and get an idea just how easy it could be, and whether the end result was worth it.
The 56-person company is now venturing outside of just beer-making machines. The Pico C has kombucha brewing capabilities and customers can now distill oils with PicoStill. In December, PicoBrew rolled out a new sous vide cooking feature for the Pico devices. The startup, which raised a $10.6 million investment round last year, is now calling the Pico the “ultimate kitchen appliance.”