The Internet of Beer #CES2015

Given that this week saw a return to the future depicted in the classic movie, Back to the Future 2, it seems fitting to air a video interview with an inventor of a device that would make the fictional Dr. Emmett Brown proud. In the above interview, PicoBrew CEO and Founder, Dr. Bill Mitchell, describes the Zymatic, a magical device that converts raw ingredients to the beverage of Oktoberfest.

As one would be expected for a device shown at International CES 2015, this device combines processing smarts and Internet connectivity to allow even the most inexperienced to brew their own beer.  Brewing starts by pouring the grain, hops and water into the Zymatic. Then, about three-and-a-half hours later, the unfermented beer is deposited in the keg. Yeast is then added and about five days later, the beer is ready. Mitchell indicates that the Internet connection allows one to remotely monitor to his batches.

Annie Johnson, who is PicoBrew’s Master Brewer, points out that connectivity allows her to easily and precisely control temperatures, which is a huge challenge for traditional home brewing approaches. Johnson explains that the Zymatic puts amateurs into the realm of the professional brew masters as the consistency in brewing means that, as Johnson says, “The beer is good from the beginning.”

A map of beer that is being brewed at a given moment by the PicoBrew Zymatic.
Example Live Brew Map

The connectivity also creates a giant network of beer recipe creators. Johnson explains that she regularly provides new recipes to what she describes as PicoBrew’s community of brewers. Similarly, like YouTube, home brewers upload their recipes to the PicoBrew community. To illustrate their Internet of Beer, they have a map on their website, displaying “livebrew” locations, as well as history of recently brewed beers.

Bill Mitchell explains that part of his and his brother’s motivation in starting PicoBrew was to make beer brewing easy by doing things, such as

An upshot to their improvements is that by getting the beer right the first time, dollars and time aren’t wasted.

This former Microsoft executive brought the unit to market in an efficient way, using crowd-funding to prove the concept. When we met at CES, PicoBrew was just introducing it beyond their initial crowd-funders. Based on the homepage of their website, it looks like PicoBrew is set to announce something else on Sunday, October 25th.

At a list price of $1,999, this contraption isn’t necessarily for the average Joe Six Pack. But, based on this Joe Six Pack’s experience at CES, however, even the most non-discriminating beer drinker would enjoy a pint of brew from PicoBrew’s magical device.


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