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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Two Cowboys: Our Own Fresh Beer From the WilliamsWarn One Vessel Brewing Innovators in Hastings, NZ

Fresher Beer

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Canada is not one of the top beer drinking nations. Surprised?

It is Canada's most popular beverage by far but we're not drinking enough as a nation. According to our trusted informant at Wikipedia, Canada is ranked 39th in the world with around 63 liters of beer per person per year. New Zealand, Australia, and the United States are all out-drinking the Canucks.

We were wondering why?

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Society owes an enormous debt to beer. Because of beer, we have civilization. Yes, there are health and nutritional benefits to consider. It is the social benefits of drinking beer that has helped to substantially advance civility.

Beer may just have kept us from wiping out each other. Over time, it became much more pleasurable and life-prolonging to meet our foes in battle at a game and then have a "cold-one" afterward. If you know the Canadian Hockey culture, then you will completely grasp its significance. Instead of death by axe and sword on the battlefield, it became puck and stick on the ice, finished with a beer. In the warmer climates, the principle is the same. It all comes down to having a beer after the game. It keeps everyone alive and in good spirits for the next round.

How is it then that Canadians, a sporting nation like any other, are not consuming their allotment in beer? The answer is simple. A lack of "fresh" beer!

Beer oxidizes over time. When it does, it gets a "papery" or flattened-out flavour. Beer doesn't “spoil,” or become unsafe to drink, just less pleasant. How long your beer will remain drinkable depends on many factors. The conditions under which you store it, the style and whether it is canned or bottled all contribute to its expeditious deterioration. Light and oxygen are the enemies of beer.

If your beer has gone from the brewery to a hot truck, to a cold storage facility, to the floor of your local grocery store, it loses flavour more quickly. As a general rule beer keeps the longest when stored at a constant cool temperature and handling is kept to a minimum. The best beer is fresh beer consumed within seven days from brewing, which hasn't been moved, touched and even bottled. Here's the elephant in the room: "Breweries know this! That is why your draft tastes better than the bottle."

It made us think about how we can regularly get our hands on truly fresh beer, short of pulling a heist on the brewery or bribing the local brewmaster?

We tried brewing our own beer. The results were less than stellar, and we abandoned the mission for the local grocery store six-pack after a month of trying. We made friends with our local brewmaster and picked up a keg from the brewery. We sourced some CO2 gas from the local beer gas guy. Hooked it all up to a kegerator from China and pulled the lever. A mouth full of foam is all we managed after fiddling with the regulators for a week.

The only strategy that has worked consistently so far is a significant investment in Growlers that we get refilled every other day at the local brewery. Even this is hit and miss depending on the age of the beer in the keg they sell.


We kept looking for a better solution, and I think we've found it with Ian Williams and the folks at WilliamsWarn. They cracked the code and solved our fresh beer problem. It is something that has since turned our beer world literally upside down.

WilliamsWarn has an appliance (like a coffee machine) that makes fresh beer on tap. And, it does it better than our local brewmaster (don't tell him yet). Here's the real surprise. You can do it all yourself, at home, from the best ingredients in the world, with nearly no specialist knowledge.

The folks at WilliamsWarn generously hosted us in Hastings at their assembly plant to give us a good look at their new BrewKegs and stocked us up on fresh beer. Our real surprise was to see how these BrewKegs is revolutionizing craft brewing in brewpubs, delicatessens, and restaurants all over New Zealand.

Let's just say, North America and Canada's nearly 5,000 craft breweries better buckle up. Fresh beer is in town. Prepare for your world to be challenged.

We are going to track and enjoy it every step of the way.

Hendrik van Wyk
Brewkeg Brewmaster in Training Cowboy

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