Just four hours into the launch of its new “Z series” automated brewing appliance, Seattle-based PicoBrew has already pre-sold more than $1 million worth of equipment.
The company, which was founded in 2010 by former Microsoft executives Bill and Jim Mitchell, today announced the launch of what it is calling the “first professional-grade, all-grain brewing appliance line.”
The four products in the Z series line – appropriately named Z1, Z2, Z3, and Z4 – range in price from $2,500 to $8,500 and are being marketed to bar and restaurant owners, commercial breweries and avid hombrewers.
The units are currently being sold at discounted prices as part of a pre-order offer on the company’s website. They give purchasers an opportunity to brew as much as 10 gallons per batch in about four hours.
Speaking to Brewbound, PicoBrew CEO Bill Mitchell said he believes the new line has the chance to disrupt the three-tier system in two ways: The units give restaurateurs the opportunity to brew their own private label brews without investing thousands of dollars in large-scale brewing equipment. They also give craft breweries a chance to expand distribution without having to ship any product.
“Part of the issue in the craft beer industry that we are addressing is distribution,” he said. “I want to be able to access great craft beers that aren’t sold in my local area. So we invented this distribution vehicle for craft beers from around the world.”
Enter the company’s “PicoPaks,” scaled down recipes of commercially available brews.
“Think of it as a micro-contract brewing model that is hyper local if you will,” he said. “The more organics that a beer has, the less well it travels. You can’t get a lot of great craft beers outside of the region where they were produced. We’re addressing a gap that exists both in home and in commercial settings.”
In addition to offering users the chance to brew and serve their own unique beer recipes, as well as those from 200 craft breweries around the world, the Z series units — which will ship in June — can also produce cold brew coffee and kombucha. Beers are ready in about a week, while cold brew coffee can be made in under an hour, Mitchell said.
The devices are also Wi-Fi-connected, and can collect data on the popularity of brews by region, or how users might be altering recipes.
“We provide a feedback loop to the publisher,” Mitchell said. “So a brewery like Coronado can get this information back, and it creates a tighter loop between the brewer and the customer.”
Despite the focus on creating systems for commercial use, Mitchell said PicoBrew is also continuing to innovate on more affordably priced units for homebrewers. His goal is to eventually market an appliance that costs less than $200.
“Is our grand vision that everyone has a Pico or a Z series unit on their counter at home? Yes, because we are tackling the art and science of brewing in general,” he said. “Our mission, from the start, has been to reliably replicate recipes, and we don’t expect people to use one of our larger industrial units in their home.”
That vision has led to $20 million worth of funding from 50 investors, including ZX Ventures, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s “global growth and innovation group,” which is tasked with identifying disruptive technologies.
Moving forward, Mitchell said he envisions PicoBrew units becoming more commonplace in the spirits, cannabis and non-alcoholic industries, as companies look to experiment with a variety of beverage products. He’s also eyeing a possible IPO.
“No beverages should be left out of this,” he said, adding that the company “has a broad enough portfolio that it could go public.”
A press release with additional details is included below.
PicoBrew Introduces Its Professional “Z Series” Craft Beer Brewing Appliances, Available Now for Pre-Order
February 13, 2018 – Seattle, WA – PicoBrew, maker of the world’s first line of automated craft beer brewing appliances, launched the PicoBrew Z Series, their first professional-grade, all-grain brewing appliance line.
The Z Series is targeted at restaurants, bars, brewpubs and craft breweries interested in producing small batches of custom craft beers and kombucha, but is also perfect for avid homebrewers seeking greater precision and repeatability and larger batch sizes. The Z Series brewing appliances are available for pre-order today at www.picobrew.com/z at special discount pricing and will begin shipping in June 2018.
The new Z Series builds on the pioneering technology created in 2013 for the award-winning PicoBrew Zymatic, the world’s first all-grain brewing appliance, and extends it with a blend of unique, data-center-industry inspired functionality to produce a family of modular, scalable brewing appliances. The upgraded fluid distribution and heating components work together with the new modular, rackable and stackable chassis components to create truly scalable brewing solutions. The new Z Series features stainless-steel, heavy-duty components and was designed with simplified maintenance in mind. The Wi-Fi-connected appliances can be used to create recipes that run brewing cycles with precise control over temperature, fluid flow and timing, or brewers can download and run existing recipes from PicoBrew’s extensive recipe library.
The Z Series gives brewers the capability to produce between 1 to 10 gallons of beer at a time, with each model increasing the output by 2.5 gallons. Special pre-order pricing will be offered until March 15th:
- Z1 produces up to 2.5 gallons per brew cycle (MSRP $2,500, Pre-Order for $1,499)
- Z2 produces up to 5 gallons per brew cycle (MSRP $4,000, Pre-Order for $1,999)
- Z3 produces up to 7.5 gallons per brew cycle (MSRP $6,000, Pre-Order for $2,999)
- Z4 produces up to 10 gallons per brew cycle (MSRP $8,500, Pre-Order for $3,999)
The pro-grade Z Series features upgraded components suitable for professional use in high-duty-cycle environments where up-time matters. Its modular design allows brewers to scale batch sizes to meet their needs, from small experimental batches to more cost-effective production quantities.
“I’m super excited about the Z Series. It has the flexibility to let me brew pilot batches up to 10 gallons with the potential to sell them in my tasting room,” said Barry Chan, co-founder and brewmaster at Seattle’s Lucky Envelope Brewing.
“We have heard the demand for larger brewing-volume solutions from our customers loud and clear,” said Dr. Bill Mitchell, CEO of PicoBrew. “After almost 2 years of experimentation and prototyping, we arrived at the Z Series: a modular solution that can meet the needs of advanced homebrewers, bar and restaurant owners and pro-brewers alike.”
Ron Zimmerman, proprietor of The Herbfarm restaurant and early adopter of the Zymatic, looks forward to the increased capacity of the Z Series and to sharing his recipes with beer fans worldwide: “Over time, the Zymatic has led me all over the beer world, through styles, ingredients, and eras. I’ve particularly enjoyed exploring the near-forgotten flavors of lost beers, the first of which was my Franklin’s Old Ale. For all-out versatility, nothing beats the infinite grain bills, hop additions, and mash schedules of the Zymatic,” Zimmerman said.
In addition to brewing with loose grains and hops, the Z Series appliances can also brew PicoPaks, biodegradable recipe packs that come filled with the water amendments, grains and hops needed to brew craft beers from more than 200 breweries around the world (To see the current selection of PicoPaks, visit the PicoBrew BrewMarketplace).
PicoBrew Network for Homebrewers
PicoBrew also announced today the launch of the PicoBrew Network (PBN) for Homebrewers.
“The PBN program together with PicoBrew’s BrewMarketplace enable essentially an ‘AppStore for Beer’,” said Mitchell. Brewers develop recipes on Z Series devices using their own loose ingredients, then follow the PBN portal process to create and publish PicoPaks which other Pico and Z-Series customers can brew. All PBN published brewers earn royalties on their BrewMarketplace sales and receive unique data insights on their customers. The new “Homebrew Beers” store on BrewMarketplace is set to explode as more than 800 homebrewers have already joined the PBN with the intent to publish.
“While we have all probably dreamed of quitting our day jobs and opening a brewery, startup costs and a competitive landscape make this option unworkable for most homebrewers,” said Mitchell. “The PicoBrew Network (PBN) gives homebrewers the opportunity to distribute the beers they create and earn royalties, while PicoBrew does all the work of marketing, manufacturing and fulfilling the Paks.”
“Our record-setting Kickstarter launch of the Pico C last Spring has resulted in thousands of thirsty craft beer lovers constantly foraging for their next great beer on BrewMarketplace,” said Mitchell. “We can’t wait to see how customers of the new Z Series are going to use these innovative all-in-one beer creation and distribution machines to expand their businesses by publishing into this marketplace, and we look forward to meeting the pico-beer millionaire.”
PicoBrew was founded in Seattle in 2010 by brothers Bill and Jim Mitchell, a former Microsoft executive and food scientist, along with engineer Avi Geiger. Combining their food science and technology expertise with their passion for homebrewing, they set out to improve the craft beer brewing process for small producers and homebrewers. PicoBrew introduced its flagship product, the award-winning Zymatic® automatic beer-brewing appliance for beer brewing professionals and homebrewers, in 2013. The Pico™, designed for consumer craft beer enthusiasts, followed in 2016. Both product lines are designed to improve the precision, repeatability and overall quality of the brewing process to create consistently delicious craft beer. For more information, visit www.picobrew.com or follow PicoBrew on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.