Q1: How long does the beer last.
A: It can last indefinitely. The oxygen pickup in this system 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. We would guess it would last up to 1 year easily but have not conducted such tests. 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.
Q2: What is the ingredient cost per litre of beer or per dozen beers?
A: In New Zealand, the cost is NZ$39.50 for the ingredients to make 23 litres. So $6.87 per dozen 333ml cans or NZ$1.72 per litre. The average price for 1 dozen cans is about $22 dollars for standard beers, so it’s about one third the cost. Craft beers are more expensive so when making a craft beer in a WilliamsWarn it's even cheaper in comparison. And this is for all-malt brewing. No sugar added. If you want to compromise you could replace 500g of our DME with 500g of dextrose (glucose) sugar (don't use white sugar) and cheapen it more, but we wouldn't recommend using 1 kg of sugar as it puts too much stress on the yeast and can promote a homebrew flavour.
Q3: How many litres does it make?
A: It makes 23 litres which is 5 UK gallons or 6 US gallons.
Q4: What happens when you run out of beer? Do we have to wait 7 days without beer?
A: We supply a filling tube and glass swing top bottles. So you can bottle straight out of the tap at any time. Just attach the tube to the beer tap and open the tap. The glass fills from the bottom. You can actually bottle it all if you want and make another brew. You lose a bit of CO2 gas this way, so for Model 2 we have also developed a counter-pressure bottle filler that we sell for NZ$450 and can be attached to a CO2 line and a beer line at the back of the brewery (not the beer tap) which then allows bottles to be filled after a CO2 flush and against pressure, so that there is a very minimal oxygen pickup and almost no loss of CO2 in the beer. We're excited about this development as it's the best counter filler on the market.
You can also use this beer line at the back of the unit to fill a cornelius homebrew keg with minimal oxygen pickup and no loss of CO2. We have fitting for this option too. 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 the Personal Brewery as the production unit, fill kegs and only drink from the kegs as they make another brew.
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.
Q5: 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? It's just a dumb process. 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. 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. 1-3 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 5 extra 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 WilliamsWarn, at the Asian 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, 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 acheive these results. You can read more about this here.
So if you ever hear anyone saying you can't make beer in 7 days (for ales), get them to do a brewing 101 course. Ignorance is bliss but enlightenment is better.
Q6: 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 machine may start consumption on the 7th day, but they'll 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 do need extended periods of ageing but they are the exception not the rule. For those beers, once made in a WilliamsWarn, they could be bottled with our counter-pressure bottle filler and aged for months or as required, before consumption.
Q7: What is the real advantage of your machine?
99% of homebrewers make flat beer.
(There is one little plastic device that has some measure of self-carbonation but it has no temperature control and no variable pressure control so the carbonation varies depending on ambient temperature and therefore the season. Plus this little plastic device forces you to drink the beer off the entire yeast sediment so not a good method. Plus you have to buy another appliance (a fridge) to make it work otherwise you're drinking warm 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! It's weird. For bottled homebrew that re-carbonation takes weeks. It's a main reason why 500,000 New Zealanders gave the hobby up. For kegged homebrew, 1 week at standard practices with a CO2 bottle attached (that you have to hire) in a fridge (that you have to buy) 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 in the homebrew world, is it considered good practice to 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? Surely that makes sense? Every transfer damages beer. Less transfers makes better beer. Period. There is no argument against this. 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 1 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.
Q8: 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 WilliamsWarn, at the Asian 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 before being opened and re-hydrated into the WilliamsWarn. And he won! So the myth that great beer can't be made using modern malt extract just got chewed up and spat out. You can read more about this victory here in our website.
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.
However these day it's only the storage time that matters. Malt extract and homebrewers all-grain worts are made by the same process, except for malt extract there is a concentration 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.
Liquid extract ages during storage, however but we overcome that by keeping it cold after production until shipping. So it has only been at room temperature a few days it is life. When you understand that extract that has been kept warm for months wins homebrew competitions over all-grain brews, you will comprehend that extract that has been kept cold its whole life will do even an better job than that. There’s nothing wrong with fresh extract as an ingredient for homebrewing according to blind taste test results such as these competitions. Extract can also handle several months storage at ambient temperatures too without a reduction in quality.
Our refrigerated Liquid Malt Extract is combined with our Dry Malt Extract (which doesn’t age at all and can be kept at room temperature) 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.
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.
Q9: Can we use other people ingredients in this machine?
Absolutely. You can use anyone’s kits. Just be aware of a few points. The big problem with extract is ageing and we're the only ones to store it cold at 4'C before sending it to you so you'll get a better result most of the time with ours. Also, 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's 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. Just use as fresh extract as possible. 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.
Q10: 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.
Q11: 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 I mean is that the beer is the same quality standard as a commercial brewery. Big breweries may be making mainly lagers without much intensity in flavour, but trust me, the investment and attention that goes into quality is enormous. It was my job for 20 years. Quality with respect to no off-flavours, no microbiological infections and no unwanted haze (if you're making a clear beer). When I 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 I'm using it here in the context of business terminology. I want people to be making beer that meets these standards. No off-flavours. No infections. Clear or hazy as you like.
With this system we have an "Advanced Method" which in the US is known as ""Extract plus grains". I don't like that phrase because the title ignores the hops and other ingredients. We are 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 machine 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 this unit. The unit 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.
Q12: The machine is quite expensive. Will you make a cheaper model?
A: In time we hope to end up with several models at different prices. However this will take many years to become a reality. So for the present we are focused on making the Generation 2 model and having success with the buyers of that unit making great beers. So for the next few years at least the price will be stable at its current level.
To be realistic though, the unit is quite cheap when you consider we beat 45 of the worlds biggest breweries at the Asian Beer Award in Singapore in 2012 (read about that here). Each of these breweries were on average worth US$50 million. So our little Personal Brewery beat over US$2 billion worth of plant and equipment to make the best Pilsner. By this standard its a bargain! You can instead buy a plastic bucket and bottles, but history shows after a few brews you're most likely to leave the hobby and join the large group of males known as ex-homebrewers.
The effort we've put in, the investment and the parts, labour and technology involved also need to be considered.
Q13: 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 now realise it’s kind of silly to let all the carbonation in primary fermentation escape and then follow that up with a separate carbonation process (which in the case of bottled homebrew takes many weeks).
Q14: 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 are launching our cider in late 2012.
Q15: What other sorts of non-alcoholic beverage 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.