How PicoFerm works
With the PicoFerm, an oval device that fits onto the fermentation seal, you can know when your beer is done fermenting. It’s battery-operated and hooks up to your Wi-Fi.
It uses the Pico C’s temperature sensors, even when the brewer is in low-power mode. Using that data, plus the amount of CO2 the yeast is producing, it can tell you how much time is left before your beer is ready.
The PicoFerm has a power button and three lights: red for error, yellow for progress, and green for complete. They didn’t seem to stay lit up all the time, and we’d have to press the button to see whether the light was yellow or green.
Once fermentation is complete, the next step is “racking” (i.e. transferring the liquid from the brew keg to the serving keg). This requires cleaning sanitation. Once again, the Pico C guides you through the process, making it much easier.
Once you’ve got your beer in the serving keg, well, it’s still not exactly beer. It needs carbonation. You can do this with the natural way, which uses carbonation sugar and twice the number of days you fermented.
You can also force carbonation. A CO2 regulator screws into the top of the keg, and 36 hours later, you can start pouring a fully realized beer.
After brewing, you can go through the manual for more cleaning steps. The machine definitely needs a fair amount of care. While the machine itself is sturdy, we can’t help but wonder how long PicoBrew will last as a company.
If you buy regular home brewing equipment, you can get your supplies from anywhere. With the Pico C, you need the PicoPak, RFID tag and all. The company is obviously still innovating, but the real indicator is the marketplace. The more breweries that sign on to make PicoPaks, the more attractive the machines become.
Don’t buy the Pico C expecting to save a bundle. If you see a lot of PicoPaks that pique your interest, and you’re responsible enough to regularly descale your espresso machine, you could find a lot to enjoy with the Pico C. Just remember that it takes effort to make beer with the device. It’s not going to make you a cold one on demand.