Craft Brewers Conference 2017

PicoBrew reaches further into home brewing with kombucha and gluten-reduced beer options

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

PicoBrew’s three new kombucha PicoPaks will soon be available from BrewMarketplace, PicoBrew’s online marketplace for craft beer.
PicoBrew’s three new kombucha PicoPaks will soon be available from BrewMarketplace, PicoBrew’s online marketplace for craft beer.

Related tags Brewing Beer

PicoBrew has extended its reach further into the home brewing market with Pico Model C, a less expensive version of its original Pico machine with added kombucha brewing capabilities and a gluten-reduced beer option to be launched in late 2017.

The Pico machine allows consumers to replicate beer recipes from over 150 craft breweries with biodegradable PicoPaks, made from sugar cane pulp, that can be ordered from PicoBrew’s online marketplace. Both machines are designed to improve the precision, repeatability, and overall quality of the home brewing process, according to PicoBrew.

PicoBrew was founded in 2010 by food scientist, Jim Mitchell, his brother Bill Mitchell, a former corporate VP of Microsoft, and Avi Geiger.

The Seattle-based company saw a strong demand for its first home brewing machine, Pico, after raising $1.4m on the fundraising site Kickstarter last year.

This month the company has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Pico C, which reached its $350,000 goal within seven hours and is now up to nearly $800,000, according to PicoBrew marketing communications coordinator Lindsey Scully.

Disrupting traditional three-tier model

Working with a number of breweries from around the world, including ones in Belgium and Canada, allows PicoBrew to offer consumers a variety of beers they are not normally exposed to. It also gives consumers control over the brewing process, allowing for adjustments in the flavor profile.

In addition, hyper local breweries without distributors or packaging capabilities can extend their brand recognition by selling their own PicoPak through PicoBrew.

“Because it’s all dry ingredients we can ship anywhere,” ​Skully told BeverageDaily at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. “It’s disrupting the normal three-tier distribution model.”

How it works

Once users receive their PicoPak, which is filled with hops and grains, they insert it into the Pico machine. The user then adds two gallons of distilled water and lets the machine brew for one to two hours depending on the recipe. The liquid is automatically transferred to a mini keg where yeast is added and it ferments for roughly one to two weeks.

The current retail price for the Pico appliance is $799 on Amazon and it is also sold via other major retailers. PicoBrew plans to sell the Pico C for a suggested retail price of $549 once the machine goes to market.

Pico C directed towards health-conscious consumers

A new priority for the company is better capturing health-conscious consumers by offering kombucha and gluten-reduced beer options with the Pico C.

“We really take health and wellness seriously,”​ co-founder Bill Mitchell said. “We’ve been asked about ‘gluten-free’ beers for some time. Gluten-free beer recipes are often limited in terms of flavors and aromas, so the enzyme we’re introducing to reduce gluten actually works with all of our PicoPaks.”

The brewing enzyme Clarity Ferm helps to significantly reduce the gluten content in beers made with barley or wheat, making them more accessible to people with gluten sensitivities, while maintaining the full flavor and aroma of the beer, he added.

In order to brew kombucha (available in three varieties: classic malt, ginger malt, and lemon malt), the user must add a SCOBY (the bacteria and yeast starter culture) to their fermenting keg and let it ferment for approximately seven days (SCOBY which are reusable, are not included in each Pak).

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