Pico is a countertop automated brewing system that’s on a mission to change the way homemade beer is brewed. This microwave-sized appliance completely automates parts of the homebrewing process including mashing and hopping, resulting in crazy easy homemade beer, right in your kitchen. Now, I know what you’re asking: why is the Sous Vide Guy writing about an automated beer machine? I have the answer.
Brewing beer requires precise temperatures, much like sous vide. For years, creative homebrewers used their homebrewing supplies to cook sous vide, and creative sous viders used their immersion circulators to brew beer! What a world we live in.
Jim Mitchell, a food chemist and bro-founder of PicoBrew (founded by two beer loving brothers), started using one of their brewing appliances as a sous vide machine and cooked up some gourmet meals for the PicoBrew team. Fast forward a bit, and they now provide an adapter to convert the Pico brewer into an actual sous vide machine.
Pairing a Beer with your Steak has Never Been Easier.
While cooking sous vide is one of my favorite hobbies, drinking beer is a close second. So it’s only natural I had to get my hands on one of these.
The Pico unit comes with what they call a Step Filter, which holds the grains and hops during brewing. I call it a sous vide container, because it’s nearly identical to what we all use on a regular basis. The heater is also 1500W, surpassing nearly every sous vide machine on the market (immersion circulators, at least). Those are a few grand slam features right off the bat, so what’s the catch?
The container can only hold 5 quarts of water – for most cases, this is more than enough to cook a few steaks, but it does limit your total cooking space similar to how an all-in-one sous vide machine does. The second negative is that the Pico reservoir (top lid of the machine) needs to be filled with distilled water only, and it takes about a gallon to fill it. This water isn’t used for the actual water bath, but the Pico requires it to operate due to heating and steaming.
Overall, the Pico performed great during my first brew and during my first sous vide cook with it. However, with prices of sous vide machines dropping dramatically, I’d strongly consider grabbing an immersion circulator if you plan on cooking sous vide on a regular basis. Nonetheless, I do support PicoBrew’s vision of creating a multi-use appliance, even if it serves as an introduction to sous vide.