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Picobrew – Pico Pale Ale – Rise of the Machines

Homebrewers have all had that look of dismay from their beloved better halves and family members when we see the sun’s out, race to the shed early in the morning and start pulling out pots and pans, in my case Crown Urn’s and Rubbermaid Esky and start to fire up the kettle for a Brew Day!  What should be elation for the homebrewer can turn into intrepidation.  How long will brew day be today? How mad will my better half and the kids be with me if I end up homebrewing all day?  For this reason and many others “Picobrew Zymatic” and many other wonderful ‘robot’ brewery systems have been coming to market of late in a rapid fire fashion. I for one am very excited about anhc5 “Systems Wars” – Rise of the Machines where top Australian Homebrewers will put all different manner of these marvellous brewing machines through their paces.  The same brewing ingredients, different systems – which machine will win the war and rule them all?  Stay tuned…

Pico Pale Ale KitPIcobrew setup Pico Step Filter Picobrewing & Enjoying a Brew Hitting the Numbers

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, my trusty co-founder Angus Florance aka ‘the beer mule‘ was tasked with a much bigger muling effort on his latest trip to Seattle, WA.  He was to bring back the mighty Picobrew Zymatic and we were to put it through its paces which we have 3 times in under 6 weeks – I have already upped my brewing regime by 3 to 1 in terms of frequency – another goal behind buying a Picobrew Zymatic – on top of the first brew – the Pico Pale Ale, I have put down a West Footscrazy Flanders Red and Bulldogs Bite Golden Sour Ale both recipes coming soon to our Flyday Beer Blog of the week @BeerCoAU.  Having picked up Gus @Melbourne Airport with some very large oversize luggage, Rog, Gus and myself set about our first Picobrew – 3 blokes, 1 box of brewing ingredients, 1 super fancy brewing machine and a Corney Keg – let’s brew 🙂

To say the process was simple from start to finish is understating it really.  Resources available to picobrew from the comprehensive self explanatory manual to the online community and portal are amazing!  I will not bore you with the details of brew day but fair to say after the initial read of the manual, booting up the laptop, connecting the Picobrew Zymatic to the wifi and hitting the magic brew button we were kicking back drinking beers – craft and home brewed, chatting and watching the amazing machine do its thing! Talk about Hands off! brewing.  I did do something to cool the keg, poured the contents just under 10L into a fermenter and pitched some yeast and then clean up which was very straight forward – Rinse cycle, Drain, Dishwasher – done! All in half the time it used to take me to brew on my old two vessel system.  Will I still use my two vessel brewery from time to time to brew bigger batches and continue to crave for a super cool 3 Vessel System – Yes and Yes!  But one thing is for sure, I am already achieving my initial goal of homebrewing more styles more frequently, not upsetting the family as much with ‘way too long brew days’ and knocking out some consistent clean beer with repeatability as a core ingredient in my new home brewing process.  I can not wait to put down another APA this weekend and then an AIPA testing new and wonderful Crosby Idaho Experimental Hops #4 and Crosby Idaho Experimental Hops #6.  I can now use a system that is consistent because its a machine! All hail the rise of the machines 🙂

Malt Bill

Hops

  • Magnum 6g 13.5% A/A @60 mins
  • Perle 11g 8.9% A/A @ 15 mins
  • Cascade 10g 6.2% A/A @10 mins – you could use Crosby Cascade for more floral fruity aromatics
  • Cascade 31g 6.2% A/A @5 mins – you could use Crosby Cascade for more floral fruity aromatics

Dry Hopping

Dry hop into the secondary fermenter after racking or yeast off for 72 hours prior to bottling or kegging – thx Vinnie @RussianRiver for that tip! and thanks Steve Dresler @SierraNevada for keeping it simple on the old 2:1 rule of hop additions for Cascade to Centennial.  You might recognise this recipe is very similar to the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone recipe on BYO.com

Adjuncts

  • 1/2 tsp or 2.5g of Irish Moss into the kettle/corney keg when pico brewing 10 mins out from flame-out

Amendments (Water)

To balance the water and lower mash pH – you could also amend the malt bill with some Gladfield Sour Grapes Acidulated Malt to assist here around say 2% of the grist depending on your water/mash pH targets

  • 1/2 tsp Calcium Sulphate
  • 1/2 tsp Calcium Chloride

Mash

  • Single Step Infusion Mash @66.7 C for 60 mins

Boil

  • 60 mins

Yeast

Fermentation

  • Let it go for 7 days in primary then racked to a carboy for secondary fermentation and to get off the yeast and dry hop for 3 days prior to bottling

Bottling or Kegging

I bottled this one but you could easily keg into a half size 9.5L Party Ball Lock Keg.

You get about a slab of beer from a Picobrew.  I managed to bottle 8 tallies and 13 stubbies – a bakers dozen.  Better get my brewin’ back on again and can not wait for @beero’clock tonight to test taste our first Picobrew – cheers!

Pico Pale Ale in bottles