As we’ve noted many times, backing a crowdfunded hardware project can be a bit of a crapshoot. But one company that has consistently come through is PicoBrew with its various beer brewing appliances (the pulled Pico U notwithstanding). This week PicoBrew announced that its crowdfunded PicoBrew Z line of professional grade brewing appliances is available for immediate purchase.
Meant for restaurants, bars, pubs and the like, the Z series is an all-grain brewing device that can make beers, kombucha, cold brew coffee and spirits. Depending on the model, the Z line allows users to produce gallons of craft beer or cold brew in a short amount of time (hours), at a price point meant for businesses (or very hardcore homebrewers). According to the press release:
- Z1 produces up to 2.5 gallons of beer/4 gallons of cold brew per brew cycle (MSRP $2,749.99)
- Z2 produces up to 5 gallons of beer/8 gallons of cold brew per brew cycle (MSRP $4,999.99)
- Z4 produces up to 10 gallons of beer/16 gallons of cold brew per brew cycle (MSRP $9,499.99)
In addition to using the standard beer and kombucha PicoPaks, the Z line also allows customers to customize their brews by using their own ingredients.
The Pico Z was notable among the PicoBrew line of products because it was pre-sold outside of a platform like Kickstarter and direct to consumers. While sidestepping a massive platform like Kickstarter was a gamble for the company, it paid off as PicoBrew raised $2.2 million in one day. Those early backers also got a bargain paying just $1,499 for the Z1, the Z2 for $1,999, and the Z4 for $3,999.
Worth noting is that the Z3, which was part of the crowdfunding campaign and made 7.5 gallons, is not listed on the company’s current purchase page. We’ve reached out to the company to find out more. UPDATE: A company spokesperson emailed us with the following:
Since the Z series is meant to be modular, we decided to focus on the configurations that our users have expressed the most interest in to streamline our communications and purchasing. Theoretically, a Z3 is just 3 Z1 units. A user with a Z2 could upgrade to a Z3 at any point by purchasing an additional Z and they automatically configure themselves to work together.
The crowdfunded beer brewing appliance market is tough. Brewbot, iGulu and Hopii were all successfully funded projects that went under for various reasons. A new entrant in the crowd-backed beer making market is BEERMKR, which costs $399 and is projected to ship this summer. Elsewhere, the crowdfunded Brewie recently partnered with connected air lock Plaato for an integrated home brewing solution.
By opening up to cold brew coffee and kombucha, PicoBrew has also opened up its potential market. In addition to bars and restaurants, it’s not hard to see cafés and grocery stores possibly purchasing Zs to craft their own blend of non-alcoholic drinks. This de-centralized move towards production at the edge is part of a larger trend we see in other categories with Bellwether ventless coffee roasting and the Breadbot.
If PicoBrew can crack into these new markets, the Z definitely won’t be the end of the line.