As an avid homebrewer with less and less time to homebrew since my son was born, I was pumped to have the opportunity to get my hands on a Pico Pro homebrewing appliance to review. For those unfamiliar with Pico Brew, they provide a lineup of automated homebrewing appliances capable of creating many different styles of delicious homebrew. Avid homebrewers might be turned off at the idea that the Pico Pro won’t let you customize your recipe as you have to purchase one of the hundreds of PicoPacks from their BrewMarketplace but there are some amazing beers to choose from. These PicoPacks come with all of the ingredients (grains, hops, yeast, etc) so you are ready to go.
Arrival & Setup
The Pico Pro arrives in two boxes, one very large box, and one smaller box. Everything was packed safely as to minimize any damage that might come from shipping. The Pico comes with everything needed to get started, including:
- Sous vide adapter
- Transfer tube
- Keg cozy
- Black keg wands (2)
- Keg seal
- Keg seal stopper
- Ball lock CO2 regulator
- 3/8 thread adapter
- Dip tube brush
- Keg brush
- Hops Pak cradle
- Cleaning tab
- Party tap
- Quick-start guide
- 74-gram food-grade CO2 cartridges (x2) (US Only)
You don’t need to have much in the way of technical skills to get this setup so that’s a bonus.
Setup truly is a breeze on this machine. The directions are extremely clear and it took me less than 10 minutes to get it ready to brew. Once you power the Pico up, you easily connect it to the internet and update the firmware and register your specific machine to you Pico account. Right after you finish the machine setup, it will walk you through your first rinse. The first rinse only takes about 10 minutes and is easy to follow along either on the Pico display or in the instruction manual.
Once the first rinse was done, I was excited to jump into brewing my first batch. I had a few PicoPaks to choose from but I decided on the Coronado Brewing Stingray IPA as my first beer on the Pico. Getting started on brewing is as easy as putting the Pico Pak in the Step Filter, adding water and pushing the Start button. This is the easiest brewing experience you are ever going to find. Now that the brewing has started, I am able to log on to my Pico account and follow the progress online. I must admit that since I am doing this in my garage, I was a little nervous on my first batch that something might go wrong and I wouldn’t be there to catch it but I rest assured knowing that I could follow along live on my tablet from inside the house.
Typical brew times probably varies per PicoPak but it should take about 2 or 2.5 hours from start to finish. Following along online is such a great feature. I can see what step it is at, temperature, etc. I would occasionally pop into the garage to make sure everything was still good and loved getting those smells from the grain, a smell I’ve come to love as a homebrewer.
After about 2 hours or so, my beer was wort was ready to be moved to the fermenting keg. Setup for this was just as easy as any of the previous setup and was ready to go in less than 5 minutes. The wort needed to cool down so I put it in my temperature controlled beer fridge to cool overnight. Luckily, I have one beer fridge and one kegerator so I have multiple options to cool down my wort.
The next morning, the beer was down to the temperature I was hoping for and I went ahead and pitched my yeast. Now, we wait!
After about a week or so, I got out the hops that came with the package for dry hopping. I carefully opened the top of the fermenting keg and carefully dropped in the dry hops. Instructions for all of this came with the package and it is very easy. Be sure to keep everything sanitized!
Rack & Carbonate
After about 3 weeks, I knew my beer would be ready. This is typically longer than I would usually wait but life happens sometimes and I got busy. It is important to note though that letting it ferment longer does nothing bad at all so I was not concerned.
Setup for racking the beer was also just as easy as anything I’ve done so far. Hooking up a few different connections and pressing a button on the Pico and I was ready to rack my beer. This process was quite short and now I had my keg of beer that I’m ready to carbonate!
The carbonation process has a few options but I already knew that I would be hooking it up to my kegerator, setting the serving PSI and leaving it for about a week to get all nice and bubbly.
We have beer! It looks, smells and tastes like beer! Seriously though, this tastes just like a Stingray IPA. I was very satisfied with how this turned out. It pours a crystal clear golden orange, with just a ring of foam, spotty lacing. Very clean looking brew. Smells of faint grapefruit and sweet malt. Maybe a tad of mango. Very faint of any real aroma, but the hops are there. Taste of grapefruit, mango, sweet malts, maybe some apricot. Very balanced with a slightly bitter finish.
Well, this machine is incredibly easy to operate and it cranks out some damn good beer. If you are even remotely into the idea of automated brewing, this is definitely for you. The only thing I wish is that I could have more freedom to brew my own recipes but I know that is precisely what the Pico Zymatic is for. I’d highly recommend this for anyone looking to get into brewing that does not want to bother with purchasing all the equipment tied to traditional homebrewing.