Brewing an IPA with Pico Brew

Drink Features Pico Brew
Brewing an IPA with Pico Brew

Note: We’re giving away a Pico system in a contest ending on Friday, Nov. 11. Sign up now!

I have a friend who makes his own crackers. I know. It sounds ridiculous, but he has a family of six and he says making crackers at home saves him serious coin. Also, he swears it’s fun. It’s possible that he and I have different definitions for the word “fun,” but honestly, crafting your own crackers isn’t that crazy in our new, maker-crazy culture that puts a premium on anything that was hand crafted. If you judge the world by Pinterest, everybody is making their own belts and beef jerky. And it’s awesome. I just don’t have it in me. I don’t even have the patience to grow a garden. I like the idea of cultivating my own tomatoes, in theory, but there are also three grocery stores within two miles of my house with excellent produce sections. Why bother growing my own when buying is so easy? Historically, I’ve felt the same way about brewing my own beer. Why go through all that effort when I can just buy a six-pack that’s definitely better than anything I could possibly brew in my garage? I’m not knocking home brewers. You keep doing what you do. Fist pound. I’m just not that kind of guy.

Or so I thought. Then I started playing around with Pico Brew, a sleek new appliance that promises to streamline the home brew process. Forget the home brew kits you dabbled with in college—this thing is an automated, fully dialed in system that aims to take a bit of the mystery and, difficulty, out of brewing your own beer.

Here’s the marketing pitch from Pico Brew: “The Pico is an automated beer brewing appliance that can brew 5 liters of craft beer in about 2 hours and grain-to-glass serving time of less than one week. It uses ready-to-brew PicoPak ingredient kits from the worldwide BrewMarketplace.”

And for the most part, that’s all true. You load a PicoPak, which has all of the ingredients necessary to brew a certain style of beer, push some buttons and connect some hoses and two hours later, you’ve brewed a mini keg of beer. Then you let it ferment for several days and shazaam, you’ve got your own beer.

The truth is, Pico Brew isn’t as simple as it sounds. There’s a whole lot more to it than pushing a couple of buttons and waiting a week for your own batch of home brew. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s part of the joy of this little system. You still have to clean the hell out of everything (often and thoroughly), you still have to add yeast, and dry hop it, and carbonate it…Even in this automated system, there’s plenty of room for human error. And that’s a good thing. If it was as automated as a Keurig, why bother at all? The beauty of the Pico is that it guides you through the process while still allowing you to participate in the process, so you feel a bit of ownership when you pour your first beer from the keg.

I brewed an IPA that smelled dank and looked tasty as hell, but was flat. I screwed up the carbonation. It was totally my fault, and I’m actually glad I made the mistake because it gives me a reason to go back and brew another batch.

Another reason to keep brewing—a bunch of breweries have partnered with Pico Brew, developing PicoPaks that allow you to brew specific beers in your own home. Abita, Rogue, 21st Amendment Brewery…a handful of big breweries are playing along. And maybe I’m crazy, but being able to whip up a batch of Brew Free or Die IPA in my own kitchen is fun. A hell of a lot more fun than making your own crackers.

We’re giving away Pico systems. Yeah. Just giving them away. Sign up here.

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