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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Two Cowboys: No Longer Paying for Other's Sins with WilliamsWarn's BrewKegs from Hastings, New Zealand

Make Something

When you bake bread you don't start by planting the wheat for the flour.

Rather, you set off to the local grocery or supply store to buy good quality flour. You trust the farmer and milling company to provide you with a quality base ingredient for your baking. The retailers' distribution makes it accessible. All you need to do is take it a few steps further with yeast and flavoring ingredients for a magnificently freshly baked bread.

If that is too complicated, there are even suppliers that will provide you with the frozen dough. All you have to do is pop it into the oven. Now you can do this with beer and cider too thanks to WilliamsWarn.

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The principle is that there is a value chain in any production process whereby the materials are transformed from one stage to the next by adding value until it is eventually consumed. In some instances, it is advantageous to control the entire value chain. The truth is that very few industries in the modern world still do it. It is costly, labor intensive, uncompetitive and inconvenient.

For example, for bread, the farmer plants the grain. The milling company adds value by milling, bleaching, and packaging. The food producer makes the dough and adds flavoring. The baker bakes it, brands it and the retailer distributes. The same applies to the brewing industry. The farmer plants the barley, wheat, and hops. The maltster malts. The yeast producer produces yeast. The ingredients manufacturer makes dry malts, hops, and liquid malt extracts. The brewer brews, carbonates, clarifies, brands and packages for the retailer. Some of the roles and steps in the chain may be combined. It is often done under the pretentious banner of "craft". Mostly, the value chain remains intact, and it is done more for marketing and brand differentiation.

The brewing and distilling industries are coming to terms with an increasingly fragmented value chain. New malting companies and ingredient producers are coming to market and equipment manufacturers like WilliamsWarn are simplifying the brewing processes. The traditional players in these industries have mostly been "shielded" by decades of regulation. A few dominantly large corporations succeeded (and some still do) in working in concert with lawmakers to maintain the status quo and make it difficult for new entrants.

For decades there's been an incentive for the value-chain to remain obscured from consumers through prohibition. Except for an adventurous few homebrewers, moonshiners and bootleggers, most people had no real understanding of how-to, or an incentive to brew their own beer, cider or distill their own liquor. It was labeled as a very difficult "art" or "illegal".

All this is about to change dramatically, for good reasons.

Beer Liberty

Maybe it is the emerging "hipster" value of a growing group of Generation X'ers that are yearning for authenticity or simply a rebellious libertarian streak to take back control of one's destiny. There is definitely a growing movement by more people questioning the logic that the only way to enjoy the sixth food group is through a government sanctioned licensed and excessively taxed supply chain.

There must be an easier and more empowering way to beer drinking pleasure. People have been doing it for thousands of years. Why is it so hard, now? If you knew that freshly brewed beer tastes better, is more healthy, significantly cheaper and easy to do, you will be brewing yourself. It is now possible to enjoy your beverage from the best ingredients in the world, without the government dipping their tax finger in your pint. Here's how.

If you can cook a sausage, you can brew a beer (don't tell your dress-up "craft brewing" hipster friends that you know their secret). It is time to exercise autonomy, freedom of choice, voluntarily associate, apply individual judgment and self-ownership. You can take back control of your beverage. Grow a beard. Un-invite your legislator and stop paying taxes for others' sins. Claim liberty by brewing your own beer.

If you still need a further financial incentive consider this. On 5 August 2016, the Government of Alberta directed the AGLC (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission) to apply a standard markup rate of $1.25/L to all regular beers sold in Alberta ( Whichever way you look at this, it is the government putting their hand in your beer pocket and yanking a massive 30+% (one-third!) from your beverage budget. Add to this the manufacturing margins (which is a pitiful tax hand-back to breweries in the form of a grant), federal excise duty, recycling fees, refundable deposits, retailer and distributor margins, licenses, permits, inspections and to top it all off, GST! It is surprising that the CO2 from brewing is not also taxed through the most recent carbon (tax) levy political plaything.

Are we missing something or is someone actually giving us an incentive to brew our own beer?

Take Control

When we embarked on our journey over a year ago, we had a significant goal in mind. Empower people to take ownership of their own destiny by making something. Give inspiration by showing how others are doing it and tell of the benefits they get from being producers.

If there was ever a case to make something, then it is as simple as brewing your own beer for as little as $1.80 a litre in 4 - 6 days. WilliamsWarn and the ingredients producers make it possible. It is legal to brew and enjoy your own beer in Canada as long as you don't sell it to your friends.

Here's the real bonus. It tastes a great deal better, like home baked bread!

People have come together for thousands of years around a meal and a beverage. Through the levying of compulsory and coercive money collection (taxation) and overbearing legislative authority, the government has increasingly invited themselves to the gathering. It is time to uninvite them.

We are doing it, and you can do it too by producing your own food, and brewing your own beer.

Hendrik van Wyk
Beer Cowboy

P.S. Here is a nice resource if you want to try your hand at distilling: Mile Hi Distilling.

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