Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Beer Keurig" Shows Crowdfunding Works, Sometimes for No Apparent Reason

No, I am not really going too deep into the crowdfunding legal world. I am mostly venting. My co-bloggers, especially Steve BradfordJoan Heminway, and Haskell Murray, are far more knowledgable than I am on the actual legal regime. 

Kickstarter and other sites have done some creative things to help people start their businesses, and I am fine with that. There are travel jackets and luggage, as well as other things like potato salad and gadgets that someone thinks someone else needs.  That's all good.  But some of the ideas just seem dumb to me.  Case in point: the PicoBrew, about which one outlet noted: Seattle company develops 'Keurig for beer.' 

So, the deal is that you can make your own beer recipes (or borrow from others), and make beer at home.  Fast(ish).  KOMO News explained: 

Depending on the recipe, users add grain to the main compartment of the step filter and add hops into the appropriate hop cages inside the unit. The entire canister slides into the Zymatic and the brewing begins.

The brewing takes about four hours, leaving the unfermented beer in the keg that originally held the water. Add the yeast, then after a week of fermentation you get beer ready to be carbonated for dispensing from the keg.

So, if I want a (potentially) good craft beer, I can plan a week ahead, and zowie, with a little work I will have a bit more than a 12 pack at the ready. The Keurig was bad enough -- it's wasteful, expensive. And, did I mention it's really wasteful?  But it can make pretty good coffee in a way that is more convenient in some circumstances. So there's that.  

PicoBrew doesn't seem to have any of those things. I mean, it does let you act like you brewed beer yourself, if you wanted to be that guy or gal.  But really, this seems like an expensive gift for people who don't know really understand what it means to make your own beer.  

I am all for people coming up with ideas to build creative businesses.  And I am all for letting people spend their money on things they like (goofy or not). But that this thing raised $1.4 million still seems wrong to me. I know, some people really like this making stuff at home without really "making" much of it, but even with the recipe delivery services, there you're just over paying for someone else to do most of the work for you. I get that. That allows you to pay someone else to do most of what you don't want to do, while giving you flexibility and fresher food.  Maybe it's pricey and not too creative from a cooking perspective, but still sensible for some folks. 

The PicoBrew website quotes CNET as saying, "They tasted liked craft beers I would pay money for." After paying $500 to $1000 for the machine, plus ingredients, I am pretty sure you would still be paying money for the beer.  And you would be doing the work, waiting for it to ferment, and carbonating it, too.  I just don't see the great value. Personally, I'd much rather buy my craft beers straight from the good folks at places like Bell's, Founders, and Chestnut Brew Works, LLC(!).  Now if I could just get a distributor in the state to make the first two more accessible. Hey, Kickstarter . . .


Crowdfunding, Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Joshua P. Fershee | Permalink


About two years ago, one of my law school classmates crowd-sourced the restart of his family brewery that had gone silently into the night during Prohibition. They're making some very respectable beers now. This passion also derived from this great-grandson's passion for interesting home-brew. In fact, if you look out on the public there has been somewhat of a renaissance in the coalescence of breweries, wineries and distilleries driven by personal interests.

I have no idea the value of Picobrew; but, I would proffer that some spouse is looking at it as a birthday or Christmas present for those basement brewers!

Posted by: Tom N. | Dec 2, 2015 5:23:28 AM

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