Open Source Subnet An independent Open Source community View more

It's like a coffee maker, but for beer

A former Microsoft engineer has invented a machine that dumbs-down the beer brewing process.

It's Friday. If you're anything like me, you're at least a little excited about the beer you'll drink tonight, tomorrow, and/or while you're watching football on Sunday.

Image Alt Text

Credit: PicoBrew

The PicoBrew system and ingredients.

And, if you're like me, you're somewhat picky about beer. Certain kinds of beers fit certain situations better than others. Sometimes I just pace back and forth in front of a beer section, trying to decide which craft beer I'll be bold enough to try, only to regret passing up one of the other options that sounded good. And it's not like you can brew your own. Who has the time for that?

Well, soon, everyone might. The Smithsonian Magazine recently profiled Bill Mitchell, an 18-year Microsoft vet who has moved on to create the PicoBrew Zymatic, which automates much of the drudgery involved with home brewing. Users can just download a recipe and pour water and the company's provided malted barley and hops into the machine, then simply press the "brew" button. After about four hours, two and a half gallons of unfermented beer is ready. The user then simply has to add yeast and wait about a week for it to ferment. Once that four-hour brewing process is completed, the machine can simply be broken down and washed in a dishwasher.

Mitchell partnered with his brother Jim, who has experience in food processing, and hardware architect and former colleague Avi Geiger to make home brewing a more worthwhile experience.

Today, the home-brewing process typically involves an eight-hour "brew day," as Mitchell described it, during which home brewers have to mash grain by hand and try to cook barley at the right temperatures to achieve a good brew. And, as anyone who has humored their friends' attempts at home brewing already knows, the end results are not always worth the trouble.

That explains the popularity of the project. The company launched a Kickstarter on September 30th, with a $150,000 funding goal. They received $661,026, as well as press from USA Today, The Seattle Times, Fast Company, and several other news sites and blogs.

And the beer it makes has already received its accolades. Mitchell told the Smithsonian Magazine that both batches he entered into the Washington Homebrewers Association's XBrew competition received awards. If that's not enough, the company also welcomes visitors to come see the device and sample the beer themselves at its Seattle office.

Editors' Picks
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies