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The PicoBrew system is a homebrew machine. The system allows you to purchase pre-fabricated “packs” made to replicate actual production brewery recipes. There are also packs that clone popular styles and popular brewery beers.

Setup is actually pretty simple. The box the unit comes in is massive. There is the machine itself, but there are also all the accessories that are needed, i.e. the two kegs for brewing and serving and tubes and such for cleaning and transferring liquid.

Upon setup, you will need a wi-fi connection so that the machine may register itself and so that when you do insert a prefabricated pack, it can look up the specifics, and you can adjust the alcohol or bitterness level if you want.

The process isn’t just a like a coffee Keurig machine, though. It is still a hands-on process, the machine just facilitates a lot of the liquid transferring, and handles the boiling/heating of the liquids. For the most part, you can just let the machine do it’s work and you don’t need to monitor the temperature as much as you do with a stove-top home brew type system. You are given the option to follow the same standard fermentation schedule, or you can do a fast fermentation and a force carbonation (as opposed to a standard carbonation). A lot of the cleaning of equipment is still handled by hand as well.

The two kegs it comes with are handy too. They take up as much space as a gallon carboy would, but they look a lot cooler. The existence of the kegs themselves eliminates the need for bottling the beer as you can serve it right out of the keg upon refrigeration.

Additional purchases that you will need and can be bought locally are water, sterilized water or vodka, hydrogen peroxide, fragrance-free dishwashing detergent, and a large bucket or container for cleaning.

The beer I chose to brew was a Pliny the Elder clone. The resources and instructions for the process are all available online via PDFs, and instructional videos. The e-mail correspondence is very quick as well, if you have any questions or concerns. The machine also serves as sous vide machine, for those that want to impress your friends or need to convince your significant other that it deserves counter-space.

All in all, I am happy to have this unit in my house. I am in the process of brewing my next beer and will update on the process as I get used to it.

For additional information, or to purchase, please visit:
PicoBrew Website

Brick Warriors Packs at TRU

These packs are on clearance at Toys R Us. The lowest marked price tag says $1.98, but I scanned them anyways and it ended up being $0.98. So I went ahead and picked a couple up seeing that ordering these pieces and paying for shipping would have possibly cost a little bit more.

Below, a pic of the 3 series available in the $5 and under bin, and each pic thereafter representing one of each pack I picked up.

Russian River Brewing Company

Russian River Brewing Company
725 4th Street, Santa Rosa CA 95404

I have been to this location many times, the only time I could say to plan ahead would be during Pliny the Younger season. Expect possibly a 30-60 minute wait for a table, but well worth it for the food and awesome service.

There is a bar that is usually full, but some standing room and a side area to order beers while you wait for a table, or you can just come in and stand at the bar and try beers.

To the left of the entrance is a section where you can just order beers to-go, growler fills, and merchandise so no need to wait around.