Massachusetts Beverage Business



FEW TRENDS ARE BIGGER right now than homebrewing.  But the problem, of course, is that homebrewing takes time and we are an instant gratification culture.  Enter Bill Mitchell, an 18-year Microsoft veteran, who has set out to reinvent homebrewing with the PicoBrew Zymatic, a table-top brewing machine that promises to simplify the process of making a batch of custom beer.  Mitchell, who worked on PDAs, smartphones, automotive, and wearable computing during his time at Microsoft, says on his project’s Kickstarter page that he got tired with the overly long process of homebrewing as well as the difficulty of repeating a beer recipe when he found one he liked.  After a few years of prototyping, he put his PicoBrew Zymatic up on Kickstarter, and the project met its $15O,OOO funding goal in just one day. 

The device itself looks somewhat like an oversized metal microwave that you can hook a five-gallon keg to.  Once a recipe is selected and the machine loaded with the appropriate amount of grain and hops (and the keg with water), it can be turned on and left alone.  In less than four hours, the keg will be filled with unfermented beer.  From there, the keg just needs to be chilled, yeast added, sealed and the beer fermented.  A week later the beer can be carbonated and it’s good to go.  Obviously, the process still takes some time and patience, but the actual beer brewing appears a lot simpler and takes up far less space than conventional setups.  It’s also a more repeatable process thanks to the web-side software that lets people find and share exact recipes designed specifically for the PicoBrew.  The custom recipe “crafter” lets the user choose different beers by styles and get the specs needed for the brew.  It also lets the user translate more traditional beer recipes shared in the BeerXML standard into something that can be used with the PicoBrew.  Mitchell compares the concept to an espresso machine or breadmaker for beer – but of course the real test is how the beer tastes.  Purists might scoff at this setup, but for those who don’t have a garage or basement for a full-on beer brewing system (or just don’t have the time to muck around with it), this seems like a cool concept.

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