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Automated brewing machines Pico vs others?

Hey guys, I know a lot of people generally seem against these newer machines. As someone with very little brewing experience and a passion for the latest tech, I really want to start with one of these. Does anyone have experience with these “automated” machines? Northern Brewer sells these two Pico’s:

Pico C
Pico Zymatic

I’ve heard other good things about Brewie as well. I’m assuming Brewie would be the ecquivalent of the Zymatic and offer much more in terms of features and customization than the small Pico C. Seems like there’s just a lot of different brewing machines out there all of a sudden, but I believe only Pico and Brewie are finished with production and shipping.

I’m not familiar with any of them but think it kind of takes the fun out of brewing having it so automated. To each their own of course. Some of those are pretty pricey and expensive per batch. That said my brew system was about $3,000 and partially automated but also brews 20 gallons. There is still a lot of work involved with it.

If you don’t mind the price, want good beer and not so much involvement, hey why not?

My guess is the advice you will get here will be to start out with a basic homebrew kit and see how you like it before spending that kind of money.

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My opinion is learn how to brew then if you want to get one of those all in one machines go for it. It’s like a road trip. The journey is the fun part not the destination but that’s just me.

@denny should have some insight.

It depends on what you’re going for. If you’re really into the brewing process, then, I’m with @hd4mark, it takes the fun out.

If you’re into recipe design, or ingredient comparison. Then these machines give brewers something that I personally struggle with; consistency.

Personally, I think you should know show to brew the old fashioned way, before relying on automation, but then again I also learned driving stick, and did it just long enough to learn that I had no desire to drive stick regularly.

Guess you never had a sports car.

Nope. Not enough money. I had a Jeep CJ-5. Pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum from sports car.

Would love a Tesla Roadster. But no stick there either.

Same here. The $200,000-$300,000 price tag is making me hesitant. But, I’ll likely end up with one. I can get over it not having a manual tranny.

I’d much rather have a jeep as opposed to a highway buggy…
Grainfather is another one… I’d rather see you do a hands on approach too… BUT, you will be you and do as you please… We won’t snub you… promise… So as you look at those gizmo’s, do give us your take on what will do what for you… Now that said… I’d pick one that has 220 volt… That will help shorten your brew day… 110 volts will get it done… but very slow… Sneezles61

I thought of a grainfather for my son to do recipe design in his apartment but I can’t figure out if these machines actually do a 60 min boil and if so where does all the steam go… I guess I would need to see one in action before pulling the trigger.

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If your brewing 5 or more gallons indoors you will need a good hood fan or your going to have problems

Yup, that is why I was asking the question about these machines, such as the grainfather. I had heard somewhere that they may not get to a “rolling boil”. I would like to see one in operation out of curiousity.

I already set my son up with equipment to do small batches , 1-2 gal is what he wants to do. Got him a small brewtech 5 gal kettle, false bottom, brew bag, 3 gal brew bucket fermenter, and an induction burner he can put next to the window with a fan sucking the steam out.

These machines are interesting if you have the ability to design your own recipe otherwise I wiould just go buy some beer.

Maybe brulosohy has done a side by side comparison of beers brewed conventionally verses through a grainfather type method. That would be interesting to read.

Would he be able to put it on the stove top… use that exhaust fan then too? You’d be able to use the stove receptacle too… I’ll go do some hunting about for these gizmos Sneezles61
Now after a short looking… You’ve got the mash and boil… robo brew… grainfather and pico zymatic…
The first one is the least expensive… but need to add some parts to, so you’ll need to know whats not included…
The second one is just about the same as the third one… but about half the cost and one of the guys doing the comparison liked it…
The third one, another guy said its built like a tank… he’s all in favor of it…
Pico Zymatic isn’t like the first 3… It looks a bit more compact, has a couple of kegs/cylinders that help make the machine cut back on its size…
Thats just glossing over them quickly… I’d say they have their place and each would work just fine… You’d have to understand just whats included and not…

When someone says these machines take the fun out of brewing, I know they haven’t tried them. When I first saw the Zymatic, the first words out of my fingers were “DO NOT WANT!”. Then I tried one and wouldn’t give it back. It simply saves you the labor, and doesn’t stifle your creativity. The Pico systems are more hands off, but I still giggle every time I brew with one. I love them both and look forward to getting a new Z1. The Grainfather is a great system that’s definitely more hands on. I decide which of those 3 I want to use depending on my goals and the amount of time and effort I want to put into a brew. I have a Mash and Boil, also. It’s kind of a more cheaply made Grainfather. I’ve been following the Brewie for years and have a friend who has one. I’d advise you to stay well away from that one. Loads of problems and poor customer support.

I will have to look closer at them. One mentioned “100 recipes “ which I may have mistakenly interpreted as you have to use their prepackaged ingredients… like a Kerig K-cup…
If you can fact add your own grains and hops etc then it could be a winner. I am happy with my traditional set up, but my son being a Bioengineer living in the city would appreciate the ability to do small batches with whatever variables he wants to introduce. So being hands off is ok, but ingredient flexibility is key for him. Interesting thread… great info!

The Pico uses premade recipe packs, but you can have them make up a PAk based on a recipe you design. I’ve done that several times.

Wondering which one is easier to clean. They certainly have their place but I still stand behind my statement to learn the basics first. You still have to design a recipe measure out and crush your grains add your hops transfer to a fermenter and clean your equipment. Then bottle or keg. Basically they are BIAB or at least the grainfarter anyway which is pretty simple anyway. I could see using it for big batches under 5 gallons is probably more trouble than its worth.

Denny, I thought I heard you are developing recipes for Pico? If so, just a broad brush stroke on which ones you have done or close to completing… What about water treatment… Not that its really needed, but as we advance, it sure would be a great option… Maybe only for pH mash is presume… Sneezles61

No, not really…my Zymatic recipes are in the community library. I gave them my recipes for Little RIPA (scaled down Rye IPA) and BVIP and they made Pico Paks out of them. Annie did the test batches and recipe development for those.

You use distilled water in the Pico and they put appropriate water adjustments in the Paks.


Me dont like these machines reminds me of brewing coffee it takes away the fun of plan. And brew

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