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Home brewing robots get a little cheaper with the PicoBrew Pico C

The PicoBrew Pico C is an automated beer brewing machine which offers a lower price and some design tweaks on its predecessor.

The PicoBrew Pico C automated beer brewing machine.
Joshua Goldman/CNET

After a successful Kickstarter campaign 18 months ago for the $800 (roughly £640 or AU$1,000) Pico Model S, PicoBrew is trying again with an entry-level model, the Pico Model C.

The C cuts down on some of the ornamental features of the original while also making some improvements. Gone is the stainless steel construction, replaced with hard plastic; the OLED readout has been cut down to two lines. The keg that comes with the C is a streamlined version of the one the company has used before and now includes external clips instead of bolts that go inside the container, making it easier to sterilize.

The Pico C still takes the PicoPaks that include all of the needed ingredients in a biodegradable housing. But if you're thinking the Pico makes beer like an espresso machine makes coffee, you'll be in for a shock: It still has to sit aside for weeks before it becomes beer.

Apart from the initial cost of the PicoBrew itself, the biggest downside of this product is the cost of the PicoPaks themselves. At $20 a pop they cost about as much as the beer does to buy. This is potentially counteracted by the fact that this is the only way you can taste some of these beers -- they're either hyperlocal brews or are available exclusively from PicoBrew. I can attest that the Half Squeezed IPA recipe I tasted gave contemporaries such as Magic Hat #9 or Harpoon Camp Wannamango a run for their money.

If you're a burgeoning home brewer who wants to take some pain out of the brewing process, the reduced price of the PicoBrew might be an attractive buy. Meanwhile serious brewers will probably get more out of the company's prosumer model, the $2,000 Zymatic (about £1,350 or AU$2,580).

The Model C debuts on Kickstarter at 9 a.m. EST today for $279 (£220 or AU$365) and it will retail for $549 (£440 or AU$720) later this year.