PicoStill Brings Automated Distillation to Your Kitchen Counter

PicoBrew says its the "maker of the world's first line of craft beer brewing appliances"—and who I am to say that it's not? The company's newest introduction, the PicoStill, is a "high-performance distilling accessory" for use with PicoBrew's Pico and Zymatic brewing systems. It's another "first-of-its-kind" device—this one, though, is designed to make "it possible for any homebrewer or professional brewer to create their own essential hop oils to enhance the aromas and unique flavors of beer." But that's not all it does. PicoBrew says "Licensed and properly permitted craft distillers or individuals can also use the PicoStill to produce a wide range of alcohols." I'll permit craft distilling in my home, so I guess that makes me a "properly permitted" individual. (Actually, I believe the laws regarding home distilling vary by state. Check with your local authorities before setting up your own speakeasy, please.)

There's a reason for the tales of people going blind from drinking moonshine made from stills hidden back in the wooded hills of the southern Missouri Ozarks. Craft (or crafty) distillation isn't as simple as baking a cake or making soup from scratch—and there are plenty of people who can't do either of those successfully. Evidently, even people who can't boil water should be able to use the PicoStill. According to PicoBrew:

PicoStill incorporates the most precise temperature control and safest technology to make distillation both simple and safe. PicoStill is a modern-day vacuum still that mitigates inherently dangerous situations produced when alcohol vapors are near open flames or other sources of ignition by using indirect heating sources and operating under vacuum to reduce temperatures and prevent flammable vapor leaks. It also incorporates patent-pending mechanisms to make distillation even safer, such as heating that shuts off automatically if the vacuum seal is broken and a custom methanol collection chamber to automatically isolate congeners.
By developing technology that automatically separates the methanol from the heads, we have significantly reduced the dangers inherent in distilling spirits," added Mitchell. "The PicoStill provides commercial distillers a versatile, safe, and easy to use small batch distilling solution.

The absolutely cool-looking PicoStill includes a copper distilling column and a clear-glass infusion chamber, said to be "crucial for essential oil extraction and designing flavored spirits." In addition to being super-safe and super-helpful, the PicoStill is super-fast, too. "Water-extraction hop oils can be produced in less than an hour, and infused into the beer, compared to dry hopping which can take up to a week." Oh, add super-versatile to that, too. "In addition to hops, PicoStill can also distill water, herbs, spices, grains and more."

The PicoStill joins PicoBrew's other recently introduced smart device, the Pico Model C. In fact, the company says, "PicoStill is one of several new devices PicoBrew is introducing at CES that have turned [our] line of craft beer appliances into a full countertop brewery and the ultimate kitchen appliance." The new Pico Model C is capable of brewing 5L kegs of craft beer "using award-winning recipes from more than 160 breweries around the world." (Owning a Pico Model C is a heck of a lot cheaper than traveling to all of those craft breweries to sample their liquid wares.) The Pico Model C uses PicoPak ingredient packages that contain milled grains, hops, something called "water amendments", and yeast. Finicky beer drinkers can even customize existing PicoPak recipes or use PicoBrew's FreeStyle recipe editor to create their own signature craft beer. The automated brewing process takes about two hours, with grain-to-glass in 7-10 days. The Pico Model C uses a "reimagined" two-piece brewing keg that has a simplified hose connection and is dishwasher safe. (By the way, if, in addition to your craft beer brewing and distilling, you also like to cook using the sous-vide method, there's no reason to spend $100 to $200 on a dedicated sous-vide device. The Pico Model C can do it instead.)

The PicoFerm is a new Wi-Fi connected smart fermentation device that attaches to the Pico Model C keg and closely monitors the fermentation progress until the exact time the beer is ready to carbonate and drink. PicoBrew says that a variety of factors are monitored, "including temperature and pressure inside the keg, to accurately predict fermentation progress" and the PicoFerm can send alerts to the user that the Pico Model C requires attention. "For data geeks, users can also track their brewing progress, plus see a detailed report of their fermentation progress, through the BrewHouse portal on PicoBrew.com."

The Pico Model C is available now with an MSRP of $549. The PicoFerm is currently available for pre-order with an MSRP of $59. The PicoStill is available for pre-order at a special intro price of $249. The MSRP of the PicoStill will be $349.