Robobrewer Battle: BEERMKR vs Pico Brew vs Electric Mash and Boil

beermkr automatic brewing machines beer maker pico minibrew brewart brewdroid

The Battle of the RoboBrewers is on! Over the years, you have probably heard about the army of automatic home brewers that have hit the market. There’s BEERMKR, BrewArt, Pico, an array of electric mash and boil machines, and plenty of others that have bit the dust (RIP). What all these machines have in common, is that they're trying to make brewing easier and faster by automating certain aspects of the brewing process, or in the case BEERMKR, the entire process. We’re going to walk through the categories of the machines, their pros and cons, and how they can fit into your arsenal of brewing equipment.



BEERMKR ($579): All grain, all-in-one automated brewing machine, handles all the steps, is WIFI connected, pressure monitoring, yeast management, open for customization, no transfers, no cleaning, no boiling, no exposure to the outside world.

 beermkr automatic beer brewing machine homebrewing all in one beer maker

Pico Brew ($549 - $1999): All grain wort making machines. Comprised of a tub where you load your grains and compartments for adding hops (Zymatic / Z), or a non-customizable Keurig k-cup inspired container that comes pre-loaded with grains and hops. Sadly, Pico Brew has gone out of business, but their comparison is worthy to include in the category since they were so active until early last year.

beermkr automatic beer brewing machine homebrewing all in one beer maker

Electric Mash & Boil ($300-$1500): this category is getting pretty crowded. Machines like Grainfather, Mash & Boil, Robobrewer, and Speidel Braumeister. These machines have large capacities for grain and water, electronic controls, baskets, pumps, and chillers. They take the traditional mash and boil process and smash them together into one giant $1000 pot. Prices range from $300 for a Mash & Boil without a pump and without a wort chiller, up to $1500 for the German engineered and manufactured Braumeister.

beermkr automatic beer brewing machine homebrewing mash

Graveyard: there are a lot of automatic brewing machines, like the Pico Brew, that are no longer with us and are therefore omitted from this comparison. Scroll to the bottom for details on these now defunct brewers.


homebrew equipment complicated

Starting brew day doesn’t have to be a chore if you have a robot doing it for you.

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+5 min

5 min

BEERMKR: Just 5 minutes of prep, which includes screwing the valves onto the beer bag, waste bag, and mash tun, filling the system with water, adding your grains, and pressing brew. You can use all your own ingredients or use a recipe kit (called a MKR KIT, includes grains, hops, yeast, CO2, bags, all the goodies). This is the last you’ll be needed until it’s time to pitch yeast.

+20 min

20 min

Pico Brew: Load the system with your grain and hops if you have a Zymatic/Z1, or install the Pico Pak if you have a C/Pro. Traverse the menus and follow the instructions to get everything plugged into the right spot. You’ll have a number of hose lines that connect to kegs, so ensuring those are hooked up properly

+20 min

20 min

Electric Mash & Boil: these machines have to heat up a lot of water and most have a delayed start option that allows you to set brew time 24 hours in advance and they’ll heat the water up so it’s ready for you. We’ll be generous and start the comparison timer with the water hot already. You’ll add your grain to the strainer basket and set up the pump. You may need to program in the mash settings on the app or the control panel interface.

  


mash brew automatic brewing machine beermkr

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+0 min

5 min

BEERMKR: automatically brings your mash up to temperature in an extended step mash. This hits all of the enzyme activation temperatures along the way and produces 80% efficient mashes on average. After the mash is complete, BEERMKR heats up the wort to 165º to pasteurize it and achieve a hot break, then begins cooling the wort. It does not boil. Instead, it relies on Steam Hops (www.steamhops.com) to provide the isomerized bitterness. This allows you to treat a hop boiling schedule like you would a mash schedule. Just add all of the different timed hops at once. You can also produce a hop tea with collected wort if you don’t wish to use Steam Hops. The thermoelectric heat exchanger automatically cools the wort down to pitch temp.

+0 min

20 min

Pico Brew: all of the Pico Brew systems handle the hot side the same way. They recirculate hot water through the grain bed first, then after the mash program has finished, they will move the water flow through the hops at higher temperatures. After this is complete it will output your wort to a keg where you need to wait for it to cool down to room temp, approximately 24 hours.

+225 min

255 min

Electric Mash & Boil: you program in your mash schedule and the controller will maintain it. The pump will recirculate the wort ensuring even heating. While you don’t need to stare at it the entire time, you do have to be around in case the mash sticks. You shut off the pump and pull your basket of grain out of the kettle. Flip the switch for high power and give it 30 minutes to heat up to boiling temperatures. The machine will now boil your wort. Add hops like normal. Most include a standard immersion wort chiller coil that is plugged into a water source. After the boil, hook the chiller up to a water source and pump water through the coil until it has achieved the pitch temps.



 temperature controlled fermentation

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+5 min

10 min

BEERMKR: after your beer reaches pitching temperatures you will receive a notification on your phone that it’s time to pitch yeast and add your Steam Hops. Pull the grains, add yeast and hops, close it up, and hit the button. The BEERMKR will monitor the CO2 being output by the yeast and will maintain the temperature profile set out by your recipe. You can set this profile if you are doing your own recipe or a new yeast strain.

+5 min

25 min

Pico Brew: since Pico Brew are wort makers, they don’t provide much help when fermenting the beer. They have pressurized caps for their kegs that ferment the beer under 7psi of pressure which suppresses some off flavors from developing when the beer is fermented warm. No other temperature control is offered, so the variety of styles it can produce without additional temp control is limited.

+30 min

285 min

Electric Mash & Boil: after wort has been cooled, you must transfer it to a fermenter which will require sanitizing and some form of temperature control. These machines do not manage the fermentation process.

 


open system customize your beer own ingredients beermkr

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+0 min

10 min

BEERMKR: the BEERMRK system is completely open, so you are free to add adjuncts at any time in the process. In fact, while BEERMKR supplies complete MKRKITs with everything you need, you can actually use your own grains, hops, and yeast.

+0 min

25 min

PicoBrew: The Zymatic / Z1 are customizable brewers so you can bring your own grains and adjuncts. The Pico C/Pro are not, so you are brewing with whatever came in the Pico Pak. The option to toss dry hops and adjuncts in the fermenter is there.

+0 min

285 min

Electric Mash & Boil: this is homebrew, it is already custom.

  


beermkr no transfer automatic brewing beer making machine

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+0 min

10 min

BEERMKR: a vibratory motor move yeast and hop waste down to the waste bag so you have a clean beer to drink.

+60 min

85 min

Pico Brew: you are entirely on your own!

+60 min

345 min

Electric Mash & Boil: you are entirely on your own!



carbonation serving beer tap automatic beer maker

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+5 min

15 min

BEERMKR: your beer is brewed, fermented, and served out of the same bag. This eliminates the need to transfer your beer at all, so no need to sanitize, clean, or bottle. Just detach the valves on the brew tub and the waste bag, remove the bag, and place it in the BEERTAP. Plug in the BEERTAP valves, close it up, and screw in a CO2 cartridge.

+20 min

105 min

Pico Brew: the Pico machines transfer finished beer from the fermenting keg to the serving keg by pumping air into the top of the fermentation keg to pressurize it enough to push the beer out the output line. They claim this doesn’t oxidize the beer, but I’m not so sure. Gases readily mix, so the chance for oxidation is real. You’ll need to sanitize the lines as well as the new keg that you are transferring to.

+20 min

365 min

Electric Mash & Boil: again, you are on your own!  But you know this, it’s home brewing…



dishwasher safe brewing equipment automatic beer maker

TIME IN STEP

TOTAL TIME

 

+1 min

16 min

BEERMKR: everything that needs to be cleaned is dishwasher safe, so just toss it in the dishwasher.

+30 min

135 min

Pico Brew: the Pico machines have cleaning cycles that need to be run after every use. This entails filling the tub with water and cleaning solution and running the cycle. This takes about 30 minutes to finish, then you need to run a rinse cycle.

+30 min

395 min

Electric Mash & Boil: break out your elbow grease or fill everything up with PBW!

 


beermkr automatic brewing machine beer maker


BEERMKR

For home brewers and newbs alike, BEERMKR is the way to go for an easy and fun brewing experience. It has successfully removed all the tedious steps of cleaning, sanitizing, racking, while managing to make an all-grain beer-making machine that you can completely customize to your own tastes. BEERMKR has automated the entire process with precise temperature and pressure management throughout, which means you get consistently delicious beer, every time. For folks new to brewing, BEERMKR is a low-risk way to dive into brewing; as you learn more about the process, you can start to customize your recipes to your own taste. If you are already a pro, BEERMKR is a high-tech pilot batch machine that allows you to experiment and test new ingredient and flavor combinations without risking days of work and an entire batch. All in all, BEERMKR checks all the boxes, and truly delivers on the promise of an automatic beer making machine.


Honorable Mentions


MiniBrew ($1,333): We didn’t include MiniBrew in this article because it is not available in the USA. The MiniBrew is a big machine that mashes, boils, chills, ferments, and serves all out of their copper kegs. It is an innovative system and impressive to see everything they were able to pack into their device. There are a lot of parts and setup and cleaning can be rather involved, but it’s a good effort and we’d be excited to see it come to the USA at some point.

 

Brew Art ($449 for the fermenter, dispenser no longer available):An extract fermenter from Coopers Australia. Pour in syrups and hop extract, out pops beer. This machine doesn’t actually   brew, it’s a cold side machine only, so your ingredient experimentation is limited to the syrup and oil packs Coopers produces.

The Graveyard

Sadly no autobrewing article would be complete without talking about those who are no longer with us, let’s pour one out for the homies.


Pico Brew Zymatic ($2000), Pico Pro ($799), Pico C ($549): Pico Brew released the Zymatic, and the updated Z, as well as a few Keurig k-cup inspired machines that brewed beer from inside a compostable box filled with ingredients called the Pico Pro ($799) and the Pico C ($549). There are still a few machines available on Amazon, but the company is out of business so no more ingredient packs are being made. These machines were wort makers. Once the wort was done, you would be responsible for managing the fermentation, which is challenging without the help of specialty refrigeration.


Brewie+ ($1,699): A few are still around on MoreBeer which provides support, but the company has taken down their website and there are many report no response from the company. Brewie was plagued with hardware issues that appear to have been too much for the company. When it worked, it was a fancy wort maker that could handle 17lbs of grain and up to 4 hop additions. It outputted the wort to a carboy that you would then need to manage the fermentation of.


Igulu ($750): Igulu was a massively popular Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign that raised over $1.1M from over 1,000 brewers but never delivered. The project backers are continuing to post updates, but sadly this appears to be done.


Brew Bot ($3000): Brew Bot is a gigantic brewing device from a 2014 kickstarter that also failed to deliver. It promised to both brew and ferment, but like Igulu never delivered on their campaign.