Q1: Can I use your brew kits if i don't own a WilliamsWarn®?
A: YES. You can brew them to 5 or 6 US gallons size (19-23 litres) in your own brew set-up. See our Traditional Home Brewing Instructions
Q2: What is the shelf-life of your ingredients?
A: We have a 2 year shelf-life for our brew kits. Over a long storage period, liquid malt extract can darken, so we endeavour to keep the product as fresh as possible. Dry malt extract is known to not age as it's drier. When Santiago Aon won the Gold Medal at the Asia Beer Awards in 2012, the liquid malt extract he used was 4 months old and we know that that extract beat 45 other breweries who had made fresh wort. This shows that extract within its shelf-llife is a great product for brewing with.
Q3: How long does the beer last in a WilliamsWarn®?
A: It can last about 1 year and by that stage a good beer taster will notice aged flavours. But there is no reason to keep the beer in a BrewMaster or BrewKeg for a year as you're holding up brewing production by keeping a beverage in there for a long time. The oxygen pickup in our hardware is the lowest in the world as we have no beer transfers and it is oxygen pickup during beer transfers that ages beer. The fact that it's kept cold after fermentation makes it even more resistant to aging compared to beer kept warm during the distribution chain and on the supermarket shelves, because higher temperatures accelerate the aging process too. From a health point of view it would last years. Beer is a safe product as it has alcohol in it and hop components which are anti-bacterial. However, most individuals who have a few pints each night can take a month to empty one and the beer will still be very fresh. In a nutshell, you don't need to worry about the beer going off as even the slowest drinker would empy a brewery or BrewKeg after a few months and the beer could actually be in there much much longer.
Q4: What is the ingredient cost per litre of beer or per dozen beers and what are the payback times for the BrewMaster and BrewKegs?
A: In New Zealand, the cost is NZ$51.30 for the ingredients, clarification agent and CO2 to make 23 litres (6 US Gallons) in a BrewMaster. So $9.33 per dozen 330ml cans (12oz) or NZ$2.33 per litre or $1.17 for a pint (500ml). The average price for 1 dozen cans is about $22 dollars for standard beers. Therefore if you brew by the 7 day cycle and make the 5.5 dozen beers the brewery can produce, you save $3622 per year and the payback is about 2.2 years. See the BrewMaster Payback calculation
For a homebrewer, to put together a BrewKeg50 in a fridge and all the basic components, it costs about NZ$2500. This set up can produce 50L per week and so the payback in this case is about NZ$7874 per year so a payback period of 3.8 months.
For a bar or restaurant with a chiller set up already, if the beverage is sold through the on-premise draft beer taps, the payback is about 6 brews, so a few months,
Craft beers are more expensive in New Zealand for example, so when making a craft beer in a BrewMaster it's even cheaper in comparison. It's about $13.63 per dozen equivalent to make craft beer in a WW as you need to add a bit more hops amd malt to a standard kit, but this is very cheap compared to the $60 per dozen price tag on craft beer in NZ. The savings are then $13,261 per year and the payback 7 months if you brew a batch a week. In a BrewKeg50 set up for a homebrewer, the savings would be $28,828 so the payback is about 4 brews (1 month).
Q5: How many litres does the hardware make?
A: The BrewMaster makes 23 litres which is 5 UK gallons or 6 US gallons. The BrewKeg50 make 50 litres which is 13.2 US gallons. The BrewKeg25 makes 25 litres which is 6.6 US gallons. The BrewKeg10 makes 10 litres which is 2.6 US gallons.
Q6: What happens when you run out of beer? Do we have to wait 7 days without beer?
A: You can bottle or keg a brew and get on with the next brew and keep brewing on a consistent 7 day cycle. If you buy our counter-pressure bottler you can bottle a batch from a BrewMaster or BrewKeg25 in 30 minutes and get on with the next brew while enjoying your beer out of bottles. A BrewKeg50 would take an hour to bottle the entire batch. Our counter-pressure bottler is easy to use and purges air out of the bottles to reduce oxidation and also provide a back pressure so that when you fill the bottles, there is no loss of carboantion. See our Bottler video here.
You can also connect to the BrewMaster or a BrewKeg and fill a cornelius homebrew keg with minimal oxygen pickup and no loss of CO2. The keg then keeps in a fridge or kegerator in the usual homebrew manner and the brewer then starts another brew in the WW straight away. Some WW brewers use our hardware as the production unit, fill kegs and only drink from the kegs as they make another brew. See our Kegging video here.
However some brewers like the time-gap between brews to try other great beers out in the market place, as they wait the 7 days. You need to research different beers and their flavours and that's the time to do it.
Q7: Can you really make beer in 7 days? Isn't it cheating or making it too fast?
A: We are not doing anything outside normal brewing practice. The 7 day process is particularly easy for ales fermented around the 20'C/68'F mark. It's also possible for lagers fermented at the warm end of the lager temperature range (e.g. 15'C/59'F) to be made in 9 days. Lagers fermented closer to 10'C/50'F would take more time (e.g. some German Pilsners).
For the 7 day process we use dry ale yeasts that ferment very well. Dry yeast in the 21st century are great for making beer on a small scale. They're viable (alive), vital (energetic) and don't need aeration or a starter culture. Our yeast starts within a few hours and fermentation is over in 3 days if at 20'C (68'F). So......
- 3 days fermentation - carbonation occurs in the pressure vessel after 1 day. No bottling or kegging required. Temperature control to +/- 1'C ensures fermentation doesn't stop.
- 1 day warm maturation for the tail to end. The yeasts we use make no off-flavours that would need extended maturation times to reduce.
- 1/2 day cooling and keeping cold ready for clarification
- 2 1/2 days clarification by adding a special finings agent. Take off all sediment from the tank by closing the valve and removing the sediment bottle.
- Consume on Day 7.
Homebrewers have a longer process because they all make flat beer that then needs to be carbonated. Breweries don't do this. Homebrew is different to large scale brewing in this respect...until now. With our system it’s more similar with respect to not taking any extra time to carbonate the beer. Why would you want to bottle beer and wait 6 weeks when the yeast makes all the bubbles you need in the first fermentation? Kegging the flat beer and having to gas up is also another step that isn't necessary. Just make carbonated beer in the first place.
Some lager breweries have long maturation times. That's true. For example some cellar beer cold for 3 weeks. But that's not a rule anyone needs to stick too. Those breweries are old breweries that have a tradition they like to stick to because it’s a tradition. These breweries have been around hundreds of years and that’s how they cleared their beers in the 1800's in barrels in caves before modern clarification agents were developed. It was also a seasonal law to not make beer over the summer months when grain harvest was happening, so ageing beer for months was a tradition for that reason too. That's all. Many modern breweries have a 2 day cold storage period just like us. And that's not for maturation of flavour, it’s to form chill haze (a protein-tannin complex) that gets filtered out later to make the beer clearer. You only need a long maturation if you have an off-flavour. But why use a yeast that makes an off-flavour? Use a yeast that ferments fast, flocculates well and finishes clean. Then chill the beer as soon as you can. Beer ages. It’s like bread, it should be drunk fresh.
Some brewers age beer to reduce the hop bitterness, but it's much easier just to reduce the amount you add in the first place rather than using time to do that for you. Staling chemicals increase in beer every day it sits, so by using time as a process step you can reduce some flavours but the flip-side is you increase ugly aged flavours in the beer too.
Some breweries have an extended time (e.g. 1 day to 3 weeks) for sitting the beer on raw hops, a process called dry hopping and that may be necessary. You can also dry hop with our system using the sediment bottle under the tank. We find the dry hop flavour is evident after 1-2 days.
There are many breweries that have similar process to ours. 7 days. Guinness is made in 5 days for example. Many breweries are a few days longer than 7 days because they need to transfer beers from tank to tank, clean tanks, go through filters, clean filters, store the filtered beer while other beers are being bottled, send it to a filler, package it, warehouse it and distribute it. They also have to shut down in the weekends. So that all adds up to a 2 week process for example.
But at the end of the day, beer is made out of malt, hops, yeast and water and the real test is the blind taste test, no matter how you make it.
In June of 2012 a brewer by the name of Santiago Aon Ratto won a Gold Medal for a Pilsner he made in his 3rd brew in a BrewMaster, at the Asian Beer Awards in Singapore. This is the first time homebrew had ever been up against full-scale breweries and the recipe he and Ian Williams made for this event beat 45 of the biggest and brightest global breweries. It was a one-off recipe, never made before and it was fermented with German lager yeast and fully completed in 9 days at 15'C/59'F. You can read more about this remarkable victory here in our website.
Before we won this award, in our own blind taste tests, our beers beat most beers from commercial breweries also. It's top quality and the freshness of the beer helps us achieve these results. You can read more about this here.
So if you ever hear anyone saying you can't make beer in 7 days it's just not true.
Q8: Are there any full-scale breweries making beer in 7 days and is it of a high standard?
In the 1990's a brewery with a 7 day process won 4 out of 6 of the awards at the Brewing Industry International Awards in London. This is the premier brewing competition in the world. This brewery beat 800 other beers of all different process time lengths, some cellared for months no doubt. The beers were blind tasted by 36 brewmasters from breweries all around the world, over many days. You can't be a judge in this competition unless you work for a brewery. This brewing group cleaned up like no brewery had ever done before or will ever do again. I repeat: a 7 day process for lagers.
The most famous Australian lager is made in 7 days also.
Guinness is one of the most famous ales in the world. From Brewhouse to Bottling its about a 5 day process. Fermentation is done in about 2 days. Warm storage a day or so. Cooled. Clarified. Packaged. 99.5% of homebrewers have never worked in a brewery so they just don't have this knowledge so it's often a surpise to hear famous ales aren't stored for weeks and months before packaging. This is due to the history of homebrewing and the need to carbonate a flat beer, which in the case of bottled homebrew, requires many weeks of storage. So homebrewers assume breweries have this time-consuming carbonation step too, which is just not the reality.
Most beer is not like wine, where there is an off-flavour (e.g. tannins in the wine) that needs to be aged out to make it drinkable. Beer is like bread. It's best fresh. Beer stales quickly which is why the No.1 beer in the world (by volume) has a 3 1/2 month shelf-life.
Our 7 day process is especially for warm fermented ales around the 4-5% alcohol mark. Higher alcohol beers need more time to ferment and lagers fermented colder at 15'C/59'F take 9 days.
Some beers benefit from some aging and that can be done too. In fact, the average home-user of our hardware may start consumption on the 7th day, but they can also be drinking after a few weeks storage so they can assess any flavour changes themselves in the course of emptying the vessel. There will be a natural gaining of knowledge there regarding when a beer can be consumed.
Some special beers aged beers do need extended periods of ageing but they are the exception not the rule. For those beers, once made in WilliamsWarn hardware, they could be bottled with our counter-pressure bottle filler and aged for months or as required, before consumption.
Q9: What is the real advantage of your machine?
99% of homebrewers make flat beer. So 99% of homebrewers on the planet chose to let ALL the bubbles the yeast is making dissipate into the air. The yeast makes 10 times the CO2 we need in the final beer, but homebrewers let is all go. THEN.....they have a second step where THEY CARBONATE THE BEER! For bottled homebrew that re-carbonation takes weeks. It's a main reason why 500,000 New Zealanders (32% of all NZ males) gave the hobby up. For kegged homebrew, 1 week at standard practices with a CO2 bottle attached in a fridge does the job. And that can be sped up if you shake the keg or put on triple the pressure you need and then wind it down later. But why let all the carbonation go to heaven and then go through the trouble of then carbonating it? Why not keep the bubbles you need during the first fermentation and then not have to have any carbonation step? Every transfer damages beer. Less transfers makes better beer. Even purging with CO2 doesn’t stop some oxygen pickup completely.
Most big breweries collect the CO2 coming off and compress it and store it. They then dose it back in-line after filtration as the beer is being pumped to the "Finished Beer Tank". It doesn't take any extra time. Other breweries do what we do and close the tank to let the beer carbonate. But they usually do this at the end of fermentation or maturation and it’s called "tank conditioning" or other names. Some German breweries close the tank half-way through fermentation when the yeast is peaking. They call that a "Pressure Fermentation". What we've done is something new. We close that tank after yeast pitching so that it's a pressure vessel from the beginning. The yeast starts to ferment a few hours after pitching and 24 hours later is all carbonated. The excess then goes to atmosphere but the carbonation step is over and doesn't take any extra time, so just like a big brewery in that regard but unlike homebrewing where you have to add more time to the process to carbonate. The yeast has absolutely no problem fermenting under 2 bar pressure because all yeast do that anyway in big breweries due to the height of the tank. Yeast fermenting at the bottom of a 10m tank that is open to the air (i.e. not under pressure) are living in a 1 bar environment. If the yeast couldn't handle this there wouldn't be vertical brewing tanks anywhere.
The result is the beer is made in a very efficient time and is not oxidised from transfers and therefore extremely fresh.
Q10: Can you really make a good beer with malt extract? Isn’t all-grain brewing better?
In June of 2012 a brewer by the name of Santiago Aon Ratto won a Gold Medal for a Pilsner he made in his 3rd brew in a BrewMaster at the Asia Beer Awards in Singapore. This is the first time homebrew has ever been up against full-scale breweries and the recipe he and Ian Williams made for this event beat 45 of the biggest and brightest global breweries. It was a one-off recipe, using our malt extract as the base and it was fermented with German lager yeast and fully completed in 9 days at 15'C/59'F. One of great things about this win is that he was the only extract brewer amongst the breweries and therefore beat 45 full-scale breweries who didn't concentrate their wort but pumped it straight to a fermenter at their brewery. Our beer on the other hand was concentrated into extract and stored for a short period of time (4 months to be exact) before being opened and re-hydrated into the BrewMaster. And he won! So the myth that great beer can't be made using modern malt extract just got highlighted as being a myth. You can read more about this victory here in our website.
With the launch of the BrewKeg50, bars and restaurants started making their own beers in-house using our extract. The Fox in the Viaduct of Auckland City has 5 tap out of 15 pouring from BrewKeg50's. The number one beer poured is their Fox Gold which is obvioulsy made from malt extract. Every month literally thousands of pints are poured and consumed by the consumers in The Fox from BrewKeg50's. So that answers the question right there. These beer beat other kegs on tap supplied by the mega-brewers making all-grain beer. Of course WilliamsWarn extract is also "all-grain", its just had an extra evaporation step after the brewhouse part of the brewing process to concentrate it into concentrated wort.
Some homebrewers turn their noses up at malt extract. It’s for two reasons. 1) It wasn’t good in the past 2) It ages during storage 3) It makes beer making too easy and it should be hard work
Malt extract and homebrewers all-grain worts are made by the same process, except for malt extract there is an evaporation step at the end, so it can be packed into a can at a smaller volume than the liquid wort and sold. Both methods require mashing, lautering, boiling, whirlpooling so they are not different. Malt extract is in fact also “all grain” so that name is not the best to describe the difference. There are several evaporation steps in the brewing process so its known to not be a problem in brewing. Barley gets dried in silo, hops gets dried when picked, malted barley goes through a massive evaporation step in a hot kiln and the is abut 10% evaporation in a wort boil. Malt Extract just has one more evaporation after all these compared to fresh wort.
Liquid extract does age during long storage periods, so we do our best to ensure all liquid malt extract cans are within their shelf-life. Beer itself once made ages much faster than extract does before brewing. Extract wins homebrew competitions over all-grain brews too.
Our Liquid Malt Extract is combined with our Dry Malt Extract to make beers that beat famous brands all the time in our own blind tasting too. So it’s not correct to say you can’t make great beer from malt extract, you just need to know what you’re doing and have a good one that has been produced in a proper brewery brewhouse.
All-grain brewing has its advantages but it takes much more time. So we are attempting to offer a convenient way for the common-man to make great beer and extract is better for us to use. We do however have recipes for steeping specialty grains and raw hops to add alongside our basic kits to add extra flavours. But it takes a small amount of time compared to all-grain brewing. This is indeed what Santiago did for his Gold Medal Pilsner.
All-grain brewers are welcome to make their own wort to add to this machine as this invention is really focussed on fermentation onwards and improving on the current homebrew methods, particularly the elimination of a secondary process step to carbonate the beer and the poor temperature control. So we also love all grain brewing and have many all grain brewers as owners of WilliamsWarn equipment.
Q11: Can we use other people ingredients in this machine?
Absolutely. You can use anyone’s kits. We just can't be responsible for the quality, the speeed of fermentation and the final clarity. However most should and do work. The yeasts we use suit our system too as they ferments fast and settle well and then react well with our clarification agent to make the beer clear on Day 7 (ales) or Day 9 (Lagers/Pilsner). So you just need to see if the yeast clears well, but in our experience most do. We have many owners of WilliamsWarn hardware using other people's ingredients and that adds to their fun. Another point would be to avoid too much sugar. Yeast hate excess sugar and many homebrewers make the mistake of adding too much. If you want to cheapen it up a bit but use our ingredients, we suggest replacing 500g of our DME with 500g glucose sugar - not standard white sugar (sucrose). But absolutely you can try the variety of ingredients that's out there and vary it all up. And try doing your own blind taste tests with friends to see how the results are. That's how we perfected our ingredients to beat commercial beers in blind tastings and win the Gold Medal in Singapore.
Q12: Does the yeast suffer under pressure?
A: Not at all.1 bar pressure (14.5psi) is the same as the pressure at the bottom of a 10m tank. Beer is made in 10m tanks everywhere globally. So at the bottom of such a tank its 1 bar, at the 9m mark its 0.9bar, at the 8m mark is 0.8 bar etc. So yeast circulates around the tank and ferments fine under this pressure, every day in breweries around the world. If this wasn’t true you wouldn’t have mega-breweries making zillions of litres in huge tanks. Too much pressure is an issue but 1 bar is nothing. We have even fermented at 3 bar and there are 30m tanks out there too with yeast under this pressure. Our suggestion is to brew at 1.5 bar to be representive of the average level of carbonation of a commerical beer.
Q13: When you say the beer is "commercial quality", do you mean flavourless beer, like in the US?
A: No. In the US "commercial" means flavourless. What we mean is that the beer is the same quality standard as a professional brewery selling beers to make a business. Big breweries may be making mainly lagers without much intensity in flavour, but trust us, the investment and attention that goes into quality is enormous. Quality with respect to no off-flavours, no microbiological infections and no unwanted haze (if you're making a clear beer). When we say commercial quality I mean just that, the quality required to keep your business commercial. It's nothing to do with flavour. That's something else entirely. Sierra Nevada makes great beers and that's a commercial business - they aren't giving it away for free. It seems in the US "commercial" means "tasteless" but we are using it here in the context of business terminology. We want people to be making beer that meets these standards. No off-flavours. No infections. Clear or hazy as you like. People have bought our brewries and kits and made their own brand and sell them to pubs. So commercial or professional as an enterprise and commercial in quality.
With this system we have an "Advanced Method" which in the US is known as ""Extract plus grains". We don't like that phrase because the title ignores the hops and other ingredients. When using extract the BrewMaster or BrewKeg is an extract brewery and this method has huge flexibility for us to make all types of beer. Two of the great American beer gurus, Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer wrote a book in 2007 called "Brewing Classic Styles". It has 80 recipes all using extract plus grains. These guys wrote this book because they thought "extract brewing doesn't get the respect it deserves". You can make all those beers, the standard list in the BJCP Style Guidelines, in our machine. So not only light beers but hop monsters too. We will be promoting this method as the real fun part of this hobby with our unit.
You can also make your own all-grain wort and add it. Our brweing equipment is focused on fermentation to consumption, with the secondary carbonation step eliminated, so you can add any wort you like.
So you can make hoppy, bitter, black, brown, estery, aromatic, phenolic or whatever-you-want-beers in our vessels. They just takes the hassle out of it and does it right, without compromising what the yeast needs or the beer needs to make top notch beverages.
Q14: Who is your target market?
A: In New Zealand, there is something like 5000-10000 homebrewers. But there are 500,000 ex-homebrewers. One in three New Zealand men have tried homebrewing and given it up because they didn't get the results they wanted. That's an amazing statistic. It's the equivalent of 50 million men in the US. They are my target market as are beer drinkers in general. With our machine we are solving the complaints NZ homebrewers have, which drove them away from the hobby. Our invention isn't cheap, but we've done it right and that's what matters to us most. Doing it right. No compromise. The tradition here in NZ is extract brewing rather than all grain and bottling rather than kegging, so they had more things to complain about regarding flavour and method. The US market has become more and more sophisticated so certain things like quality of ingredients and flexible brewing methods have developed. So we are combining the passion and knowledge of the US home-brewers, with the quality standards of a big brewery, with the "pressure vessel fermentation" technique so you don't have to transfer the beer to gas it up, with a certain amount of innovation, and an attitude of no compromise, to provide something new for the beer market, in order to bring these guys back into the hobby. We enable the making of it to be easy and right, so that we can focus on the ingredients that go in and beer flavour coming out. But in doing that, we've developed a machine that anyone in any country can use
So our target markets are:
a) ex-homebrewers who were not satisfied with the current options and methods within the hobby
b) global beer drinkers in general who have never made beer before but want to make it right the first time they do it, without having to be a homebrewer for 3 years before you get it perfected.
c) current homebrewers who like the idea that they've never needed to keg or bottle homebrew and like the idea of carbonating during primary fermentation and having the freshest draft beer possible in their homes and businesses.
Q15: What other sorts of alcoholic beverages can be made in your machine?
A: Apart from beers you can make ciders, ginger beer, mead and sparkling wine. We have a hard cider as one of our kits.
Q16: What other sorts of non-alcoholic beverages can be made in your machine?
A: You can make cold, carbonated water in this machine. If you add water, close the lid, put the cooling on and attached a gas bottle to the unit and apply pressure, the water will become carbonated over a few days. You can also add flavour after carbonation via the clarification pot.
Q17: Where can the CO2 cylinders be refilled?
Q18: Can you make gluten free beer with your system?
A: All our beer kits brewed and clarified with our clarification agent, have had the gluten significantly reduced and are being consumed by Celiacs. This means that a Celiac that cannot consume normal beers off the shelf, can consider a WiliamsWarn brewing system to brew on and drink beer again. This will of course depend on the individual and the severity of the Celiac condition so it would be preferable to try a beer made in a WilliamsWarn before considering a purchase.
The gluten in barley is Hordein. The clarification agent we use reacts with Hordein to remove it. The reason we do that is actually to remove it as it’s hazy and also to remove the yeast which makes the beer very hazy. But the consequence of that is that the gluten gets reduced. The ELISA test used to measure gluten is not recognized in the USA as being good enough to determine gluten in beers but there is no better test available yet. In Europe, this test is accepted by legislators who allow a gluten-free claim on the product.
We have had our beers before clarification and after clarification tested using the RIDASCREEN® Gliadin competitive 2nd Generation test. This is the best test currently available. To be classified as "Low in Gluten" in NZ and Australia, the result needs to be under 20 ppm gluten. Before clarification the result is 120ppm and after the usual two clarifications the result we get is 29ppm. Under 20 ppm in the EU and the USA is classified as gluten free. To be Gluten free in NZ and Australia there needs to be no detectable gluten at all. So we can only state "Processed to be very low in Gluten" rather than gluten free.
Lab tests are one thing but a human is another, so we've also tested our clarified beers on Celiacs, and we haven't found one yet that has been affected by the cramps or other affects associated with ingesting gluten. Celiacs have also bought our breweries and happily consume the beer with no side affects. However no reaction felt isn't the same as no reaction at all in the gut, so all we can say is our beers are very low in gluten but not gluten free.
HOWEVER, you can also buy gluten free extract made from Sorghum (e.g. from Briess) that are sold in home brew shops, and use our systems to make gluten free beer. So the answer is yes, if you like beer made from Sorghum.