PicoBrew's PicoPaks just became fully customizable. On display at CES 2017, the PicoBrew Freestyle lets you make a beer exactly to your liking with a few clicks.
PicoPaks are the prepackaged ingredients that work with the push-button brewer -- the $800 (converts to roughly $1,100, £650) PicoBrew Pico. Previously, you picked your PicoPak from a list of professionally crafted microbrews. If you think you can do better, now you can.
The PicoBrew Freestyle allows you to make full use of its online interface to select all of your beer's ingredients -- the hops, the malt, even the yeast -- then the company will ship you your selection, complete with a customized name.
I spent some time with the system at CES, and Freestyle is delightfully intuitive to use.
You start by picking a base type of beer, you have six options ranging from stout to hoppy IPA. Then, Pico will offer suggestions at each of the next phases, but you can drag and drop various grains and hops to your heart's desire and completely change the character of your beer. Better yet, as you make changes, the stats of the beer listed at the top of the page change too. You'll see the beer's color, bitterness and alcohol level, and all of them alter actively as you tinker, as does the price of the Pak.
PicoBrew obviously limits you to the types of malt and hops they have in stock, but they have a decent selection. The site will also stop you if you try to push the recipe past what the Pico can handle, but you still have a wide range of wiggle room.
The only concern I have with the PicoBrew Freestyle is strangely the Pico itself. We're putting it through its paces for a review, and it hasn't impressed me yet. If the Pico ends up winning me over, the Freestyle will be an awesome feature that's available now and free for PicoBrew's customers.