About this project
THANK YOU BACKERS, FOR AN AMAZING KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN! IF YOU MISSED OUR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN, PLEASE COME SEE US AT PICOBREW.COM!!!
Seattle Times - "... produce a never-ending supply of absolutely top-notch beer, in any style and flavor you can imagine"
USA Today - "...the at-home beer brewing system PicoBrew looks very timely"
CNET - "Just add water, grain, and hops. The PicoBrew Zymatic can serve up your homemade brew with minimal hassle and cleaning"
Washington Beer Blog - "Their beers had all of the consistencies and flavors of any professionally brewed craft beer"
Medium - "Here's a little box that could change the beer world forever"
Fast Company - "There is clearly a big potential market for the Zymatic"
RedOrbit - "Tech news sites have hailed the Zymatic as a modern marvel while large breweries have taken to using the machine to try out new batches"
GeekWire - "...one of the more badass Kickstarter campaigns we’ve seen..."
PennyArcade - "I back a lot of hardware on Kickstarter.... But there’s a marked difference between what they’re pitching here and what I usually see."
ARS Technica - "... takes the legwork out of home-brewing"
DudeIWantThat - "Even at a $1,600 investment, it would really only take about 6 weeks of home brewing for me to recoup the cost of a PicoBrew Zymatic in consumed beer."
CoolThings - "No more complicated microbrewery setups in the basement -- just a simple tabletop rig you can set up conveniently in the kitchen."
The Drainage - "F...ing Cool : PicoBrew Zymatic: Automatic Beer Brewing Appliance"
The Verge - "The PicoBrew Zymatic is the Nespresso of beer brewing"
Stretch Goal Summary
10/29/2013 Last Stretch Goal - Thank you Zymatic(TM) hardware-level backers! The support you've shown has been overwhelming, and we're happy to announce that you've earned all 4 stretch goal rewards! We have 18 hours to go and we've already had unprecedented support, but if we can top 650K we want to throw a little party: a PicoBrew Backer Bash!
10/24/2013 Stretch Goal #4 - Thank you again! Well, you earned it: a spare Keg Lid and Airlock for all Zymatic(tm)-level backers! Looks like we're well on our way to another big milestone too -- 600k! There are still 5 days to go, so here's what we're going to do. We have a special "keg accessory pack" that we were planning on selling separately -- we're now going to throw that in with your Zymatics if/when we hit 600k in pledges.
10/19/2013 Stretch Goal #3: 500K! - Thank you for your votes on the 500K Stretch Goal Reward! The votes were strongly in favor of a spare keg lid and airlock so upon reaching 500K we'll be adding this to all machines that ship (in addition to the fermenting lid + airlock already included).
10/16/2013 Stretch Goal #2: 400K! – We will now be including sampling ports with all machines. We think you’re going to love ‘em! This is what we use every day in the lab to draw our samples.
10/11/2013 International Reward Level – We’re pleased to announce that we are adding an International Reward Level! We are making the PicoBrew Zymatic™ available now in 110v or 220v versions to ship to your international location (non-Us and Canada).
10/06/2013 Stretch Goal #1: 300K! – Thanks to your great support we are able to include a custom keg-cozy with all PicoBrew machines! Why a custom keg cozy instead of off-the-shelf? Turns out that slipping those off-the-shelf cozies on/off the kegs is not so easy (think sliding a sweater on/off a hot stainless-steel wiener-dog!) So ours opens up via either snaps or a zipper (we’re testing both as we speak to see what works best).
10/1/2013 Wow, 100% of Goal in 34 hours! – We’re very excited and humbled by the amount of support you’ve shown for PicoBrewing! It’s just been overwhelming! We’re so lucky to have such great support (and to have the ability to crank out kegs of our favorite beers on demand!). Thank you Kickstarters!
Why can't we brew beer at home as easily as we can make a loaf of bread with a bread-maker, or a shot of espresso with an automatic espresso machine? Making quality beer this easily: that was the dream 3 years ago, and we're proud to announce that after thousands of man hours of R&D, we've made that dream a reality in the form of the PicoBrew Zymatic(tm).
So how does one PicoBrew anyway? We're glad you asked! PicoBrewing is a quicker and more enjoyable way to brew! The basic steps are simply creating (or borrowing) a recipe, loading ingredients into a container we call the "step filter", and selecting the recipe to brew using the rotary encoder on the front panel of your PicoBrew Zymatic(tm).
After 18+ years as an executive at Microsoft leading pioneering efforts in PDAs, smartphones, automotive and wearable computing I know a thing or two about creating computing appliances. Jim has spent much of the last two decades building innovative food processing plants in CA, following in the footsteps of our grandfather, Dr. William Mitchell, inventor of Pop Rocks, Tang and other fun foods.
We got to work quickly in early 2010 and began building a succession of Proof of Concept (POC) systems based on an off-the-shelf Arduino-based controller, off-the-shelf pumps, relays, valves and a custom heating loop.
A succession of POC prototype machines followed as we incrementally invented a new brewing process that allowed for the pre-loading of ingredients and total hands-free automation. By late 2011 we had created a proven solution, and were ready to move to the next step: Functional Prototypes (FPs). A custom motherboard design was needed, however, and significant mechanical engineering lay between us and a shipping product.
One fateful day in the Fall of 2011 I met with my old colleague Avi Geiger at one of Seattle's great local craft breweries. Avi was a long-time Microsoft hardware architect and beer aficionado, and as luck would have it, had just left Microsoft. When I told him about what we were doing at PicoBrew he was intrigued. We quickly decided to join forces and Avi became the third PicoBrew co-founder, bringing us the perfect set of complementary new skills (electrical and mechanical engineering).
In 2012 our PicoBrew team made rapid progress on a sequence of 4 custom ATMEGA controller boards, firmware, web-side services and software. These improvements manifested themselves in Functional Prototypes 1 through 3 (FPs).
In August we started refining our process (especially mash efficiency and hops utilization) and focusing in earnest on reliability and repeat-ability testing, and we took a lease on a 4000 sqft lab/shop/office space in downtown Seattle on North Lake Union. This allowed us to move out of our home shops and into a real wet-lab and shop space and hire full-time employees, expanding our prototyping and testing capabilities tremendously. We were also able to take the final step towards manufacturing our first PicoBrew product by hand-building final Engineering Validation Test (EVT) units.
The past year has been spent mostly refining our PicoBrewing process, testing recipes, and refining prototypes of the custom parts we need as well as sourcing our necessary off-the-shelf parts. (Avi's quite the CAD-jock, but we had some great summer intern help too!)
Now, after over 3 years, thousands of man-hours of effort and over a dozen prototypes, we're almost ready to manufacture the world's most automatic all-grain home-brewing appliance!
We're excited to partner with Seattle-based designer Will Hays to bring you this artist's series of shirts as well:
Whew, It's been a long journey! We now have our machines at the final EVT (Engineering Validation Test) phase, though, and we're really excited to introduce PicoBrewing to the world! We have a few final steps before we can start manufacturing the PicoBrew Zymatic(tm), and some of them, like cutting the tools for injection molding of our step-filter, are expensive. So we need your help: Please pledge today and allow us to take these final steps to bring you the most automatic all-grain beer brewing machine at the best price we can arrange!
Thank you from the PicoBrew Team!
Risks and challenges
Like many Kickstarter projects, we face common risks associated with bringing a great new product invention to production. The main risks include:
To re-invent brewing and take it into the 21st century, we needed the diverse contributions of our founding team: Bill for the software and overall new appliance design and innovation, Jim for his background in food chemistry and food processing plant design, and Avi for his mechanical and electrical engineering expertise. Together with the rest of our team we've had the right stuff to innovate in a truly cross-disciplinary fashion as this product has required.
To create a system that brews beer at the touch of a button, we've had to re-invent the beer brewing process. Consequently we've labored over nailing down precise fluid flow rates and flow path dimensions, hops ulitlization,rates, mash efficiencies, and multiple other brewing parameters so that we could prove out the science of this new approach, and then nail the engineering.
Many Kickstarter projects run into problems when they launch before they've figured out a production plan or even designed, blueprinted and sourced all of their parts. PicoBrew founders have built a diverse array of products before from miniature smartphones to massive food processing plants. We've owned multi-million dollar product development budgets and we've built cool stuff on a shoestring. We've taken stuff to market: it's always hard, but we know how to do it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter