Earlier this week I learned about a new invention that would allow for counter-top brewing at the touch of a button. No boil overs. No burners in the garage. No worries about correct temperature control, water flow, or finding someone to watch the kids while you brew. Two questions immediately came to mind:
1. Could this be true?
2. If it is true, would I actually want to use this thing?
The “thing” that I am referring to is the Picobrew Zymatic. As of writing this, it has 5 days left to solicit investment dollars on Kickstarter. And it’s already raised over $510,000 (on a goal of $150,000.) It’s the Keurig of beer-making and, if it works like they say it does, could significantly alter the entire beer landscape as we know it.
Here are a couple of predictions.
Craft Beer sales will increasingly pull market share from the Mega-Breweries.
People who make their own beer are the same people who appreciate great beer the most. Just like people who truly know how to cook appreciate great food. Once you understand how beer is made and the effects of the different ingredients and the patience and skill it takes to make a great beer, your appreciation for craft beer is raised tremendously. This means more support for great beer and less support from the crap that the big guys have been churning out for the last century.
Local Homebrew shops will flourish.
You might be thinking “What? What the hell are you talking about? This contraption is going to kill homebrew shops – it makes brewing too easy!” Wrong. The Picrobrew only facilitates the “hot” phase of the brewing process. You’re still on your own for the fermentation phase – kind of important. You still need fermenters, equipment for yeast starters, measurement tools and, most importantly, ingredients. Barley, hops, yeast – these come from your homebrew shop and the more beer you brew, the more ingredients you need.
Your homebrew show also has KNOWLEDGE. I can’t stress this enough. The Picobrew doesn’t protect you from using a shitty beer recipe. It doesn’t teach how to formulate recipes or give you advice on what yeast to add, what additional ingredients can be added to the secondary.
It won’t replace the all-day brew sessions.
People will brew MORE 5-gallon and 10-gallon batches, not less. This thing only makes about 3 gallons worth of beer. That’s about 30 beers, which might seem like a lot until you throw a party and you’re out of homebrew within an hour. Or until you go on a business trip and realize that your wife drankyou’re your best stuff while you were gone (that’s never happened to me, of course). But the real thing is this – thie machine takes 90% of the fun OUT of homebrewing. Standing around the brew kettle on a weekend afternoon with a bunch of friends, smelling hops, judging the quality of the first runnings – that’s what it’s all about.
Bottom line for me is this: I don’t want it. It’s not just because these puppies are expected to retail for over a thousand bucks (once it’s $99 and I can buy it in SkyMall, I might take a gamble). It’s because I like the PROCESS of brewing. It’s therapeutic, rewarding, and fun. It’s the same reason I don’t own a bread machine or a push-a-button espresso maker. Others will love this thing (it’s pretty cool technology) and I think it may help raise the overall beer IQ of the population – but it’s not for me.