Brewing your own beer can be a fun and rewarding experience. But it takes knowledge and patience to transform raw ingredients into delicious beer. What if there was a way to automate this process and make brewing beer less labor-intensive?
There are a growing number of options on the market for automated brewing systems. We think that the PicoBrew Pro is the best system currently available. Its smart design, ease of use, and range of customizability make brewing super fun and pain-free. You’ll love brewing with this high quality and great looking piece of technology.
We love brewing beer. But we also understand that not everyone has the desire to uncover every detail about the brewing process. Automated systems make great beer and that’s what’s most important.
What Is The Best Automated Brewing System?
If you’ve already brewed beer at home, you know it can be a long day. Milling the grains, measuring hops, heating water, sparging, boiling, chilling, cleaning… It’s a wild ride and that’s why we love it!
An automated system takes a lot of the labor out of brewing. There are many options on the market with different degrees of automation. A fully automated system will basically do it all for you. You only have to push a few buttons. The less automated the system, the more you’ll have to do yourself. That might be adding grain, adding hops, racking the beer to a fermenter, or packaging in a keg or bottles.
Of course, all beer needs time to ferment. So don’t expect instant results within an hour or two. For most beers, you’ll still need to let it ferment about two weeks before it’s ready to drink.
Here we’ll break down our favorite automated brewing systems and tell you our top picks:
PicoBrew Model C
Best Budget Automated Brewing System
The PicoBrew Model C is an entry-level automated brewing system. This simple, straight-forward brew machine is a great budget option. With an output volume of 1.3 gallons, it’s designed for small-batch brewing.
Making beer is simple: you add your water, raw ingredient pack, and press brew. In about 2 hours, the PicoBrew Model C produces great quality wort. The machine uses WiFi connectivity to track the brewing process based on the recipe.
PicoBrew offers three different options for choosing your brew recipes:
- PicoPaks: Hundreds of pre-packaged recipes from famous breweries are available on their website. The Model C automatically recognizes the PicoPak and begins the specific brew cycle.
- Freestyle PickPak: You can build a custom PicoPak on the PicoBrew website. You choose your grain, hops, and yeast. Other variables, such as bitterness and alcohol content, are programmed as well. PicoBrew ships the custom packs to your house. The Model C recognizes the recipe and starts your brew.
- The UnPak’d Upgrade Kit lets you buy raw ingredients from any shop and assemble a recipe yourself at home.
After the brewing process, you let the wort cool and pitch the yeast. You have to transfer the beer from the fermenting keg to the serving keg once the beer’s fermented.
The transfer starts by using the system’s “Rack” mode. The Model C begins transferring the beer from the fermenting keg to serving keg using an air pump.
The beer carbonates by the addition of the provided priming sugar. Inside the sealed serving keg, the priming sugar converts into CO2. Two weeks later, you have carbonated beer that you can serve directly from the serving keg.
Dimensions: 12.5″ wide x 16.5″ high x 15″ deep
|Most affordable automated brewing system||Small batch size|
|Ability to brew custom recipes||Plastic construction|
|Range of commercial recipes available||Noisy operation|
|Oxidizes beer when transferring using an air pump|
Where to buy: Amazon
The Beer Droid is a great looking piece of equipment. Its sophisticated design and futuristic appearance would definitely fit inside a trendy kitchen. And at a batch volume of 2.6 gallons, you get a lot of beer per brew.
Brewing on the Beer Droid is completely automated. You add the ingredient pack (called a Brewprint), press start, and a week or two later, you have beer. From there, you need to either keg or bottle the beer, using the priming sugar method similar to the PicoBrew Model C.
All brews are made from a dry malt extract base. The system doesn’t actually mash or boil the wort. That’s why we think that the Beer Droid is more of a novelty than a great piece of brewing equipment. That said, you can still make great extract-based beer.
There is a small amount of customizability with the recipes. From the Beer Droid website, you can design your beer based on five characteristics:
- Elements: type of dried malt extracts
- Enhancers: specialty extracts, flavorings, sugars
- Hops: 9 different hop profiles
- Yeasts: 9 different yeast profiles
- Primer: priming sugar for natural carbonation
The fermentation is closely monitored through WiFi connectivity. The Beer Droid makes it easy to follow your beer and know exactly when it’s fermented and ready to package.
Dimensions: 19.5” x 19” x 18.5”
|Beautiful, futuristic design||Expensive|
|Sophisticated WiFi integration and control||Very limited manual control|
|Great fermentation control||Not all-grain beer|
|2.6 gallon batch size|
Where to buy: Amazon
Our Favorite Automated Brewing System
Made by the same company as the PicoBrew Model C, the PicoBrew Pro’s brewing process is exactly the same. The choice and customizability of the ingredient packs are identical as well. PicoBrew Pro offers key upgrades making this product our favorite automated brewing system.
The PicoBrew Pro comes with two stainless steel kegs used for fermenting and serving. These replace the Model C’s custom fermenting keg and the basic serving keg. These two upgrades are the most important.
The beer is transferred from the fermenting keg to the serving keg using a closed transfer. This prevents any oxygen from spoiling the beer. You can carbonate the serving keg using a CO2 tank, which is quicker than natural carbonation. For hoppy beer, using CO2 to carbonate is especially beneficial to ensure the freshness of hop flavors.
On top of the increased control over the quality of the beer, the build quality of the PicoBrew Pro is much better. Made from study powder coated steel, the PicoBrew Pro looks and feels more professional than the Model C.
We really like the PicoBrew Pro and think it’s well worth the extra cost compared to the Model C.
Dimensions: 16” x 12 ”x 13.81”
|Sturdy construction||Noisy operation|
|Range of commercial recipes available||Small batch size (5 litres)|
|Oxygen free, closed transfers|
|Quick forced carbonation|
|Ability to brew custom recipes|
Where to buy: Amazon
The Brewie+ is a sophisticated automated mash and boil system. You can create custom recipes with complicated mash rest and hopping schedules.
The brew day starts by weighing and milling your grain and adding the ingredients to the Brewie+. The machine needs to be connected to a water source and from there, you can start the brew. A few hours later, the Brewie+ will have conducted the mash, boil, and chilling process. But at that point, the automation ends, leaving the fermenting and packaging to you.
Since this is a 5-gallon system, you will need a lot of space and extra equipment to ferment your beer. Transferring to a fermenter and packaging the beer once finished is completely manual. You’ll either need a 5-gallon keg system or a bottling bucket and about 60 clean 12oz bottles.
We think the Brewie+ is a really cool piece of equipment that can make amazing beer. However, it is very pricey and requires a lot of extra equipment to make finished beer.
Dimensions: 29” x 13.3” x 18.4”
|Large output volume: 4.7 gallons (18 liters)||Very pricey|
|Brew completely custom recipes||Big and heavy|
|Needs to be connected to a water source|
|Need fermenter and packaging equipment|
Not exactly a truly automated brewing system, The Grainfather uses automation to make brewing easier. We consider this as an all-in-one, all-grain brewing system. This means that you mash, sparge, lauter, and boil all in the same vessel. You still do most of the work, but the Grainfather makes the brewing process super smooth. Check out our Grainfather G30 Connect review here.
You can program and store brew recipes and load them into the system on brew day using WiFi.
Brewing with The Grainfather is a lot like a traditional all-grain brew day. You need to add your raw ingredients manually, at the times specified in your recipe. The system will perform all the mash, boil, and chill steps using the control system and timers. But you will need to add the grain, remove the grain, and add the hop additions yourself.
Like the Brewie+, you will need a way to ferment and carbonate the beer as well.
Dimensions: 17.3” x 18.9” x 29.5”
|Large batch size||Limited automation|
|Very high quality||Need fermenter and packaging equipment|
|High knowledge of brewing process required|
What To Look For In An Automated Brewing System
Level Of Automation
As you can see, none of the systems reviewed here will completely make beer from grain to glass at the push of a button. There will always be manual steps. Pitching the yeast and carbonating are always left to the user. Systems like the Beer Droid are almost fully automated, but this comes at a cost of limited customizability.
The higher the level of automation, the less control you have over your final product. You will make great beer on any of these systems. If you want the most creative control, an all-in-one system like The Grainfather might be your best option.
Some important features you should consider when choosing your system are:
- WiFi connectivity: almost all automated systems connect to WiFi. Using your smartphone, you can log on to the brand’s app and follow the brew progress. This information can be super useful in controlling and monitoring your brew. Also, it’s pretty impressive to show off to your friends!
- Recipe bank: take a look at the available recipes on each brand’s website. Also, make sure it’s affordable and practical to have those recipe packs shipped to where you live.
- Dimensions: we have listed the dimensions of each product reviewed above. If you live in a smaller space, be sure to make sure whether the machine will fit in your intended brew space.
Most homebrewers brew a typical size of 5 gallons or about 20 liters. For automated systems, you usually see smaller volumes. A lot of these systems are meant to be used in your kitchen and fit in among your other appliances.
For batches larger than 10 liters, systems like The Grainfather are more practical.
As technology advances and more players enter the market, we expect to see prices drop. At the moment, you’ll be paying a premium price for almost any automated brewing system.
On top of the initial price tag, the cost per batch using pre-packaged kits is also pricey.
If saving money on beer is your goal, an automated system is not an ideal solution.
Automated brewing systems are revolutionary in the homebrew world. What was once a hobby practiced only by die-hard hobbyists is opening up to all types of amateur brewers. This is great for homebrewing in general as it widens the community.
Either way, we’re sure you’ll make great quality beer, with ease, that you can enjoy with your friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I learn to brew all-grain on an automated brewing system?
Automated systems will give you a great overview of the entire brewing process. Depending on the system, you’ll be hands-on for certain portions of the brew day and fermentation process.
That being said, jumping from an automated system to a traditional all-grain set-up might be difficult. If you get the homebrewing bug once you start automated brewing, make sure you check out our other guides on brewing and equipment. There is a lot to know before you dive headfirst into all-grain brewing but we’re here to help!
What styles of beer can I brew on an automated brewing system?
You can brew just about any beer style on automated systems. But if the system uses only pre-packaged ingredient kits, you’ll have to brew what’s available.
Certain styles, like lagers and sour beers, need specific fermentation techniques. Keep in mind that you might need equipment to brew the exact beer you want.