The Ballad of Home Brewing Harald

Harald Walt started brewing with a WilliamsWarn Brewkeg10 in early November 2017, only a few days after we officially launched our range in Australia.  Ok, it’s not really a ballad but this is his story…

Once upon a time in near Tettnang

Home brewing in my native country of Germany was not something people thought about for two reasons: first, it’s Germany! Good beer was always available in abundance and at a low cost. Second, home brewing was not legal in Germany until the mid-80s – so there’s no tradition in home brewing.

Personally, I was always interested in how beer is brewed because my hometown area is the famous hop growing region of Tettnang, a small town in Southern Baden-Wurttemberg Germany.

Interestingly, craft breweries couldn’t get a foot in the door either because there had been plenty of small local breweries and every city had its own brand of beer.

When I moved to Australia 8 years ago I experienced a cultural shock, or shall I say a beer shock? Every pub had plenty of beer on-tap but all pubs had the same brands and none of them tasted particularly great. By comparison to Germany, I was forced to drink poor quality, expensive beer.

This was the first time I thought about home brewing. But traditional home brewing in a plastic bucket didn’t look appealing to me, brewing for me was German-style: copper kettles and steel tanks. So, I skipped that idea. Thankfully the craft brewing scene evolved and more and more great beers started appearing around town. Home brewing was put even more on the backburner. That changed when I opened the Sydney Morning Herald on the 8th of June 2016.

My opportunity revealed?

There it was: The WilliamsWarn Brewmaster. A shiny, stainless steel, pressure-fermenter that could allow me to adhere to the German beer purity laws (aka the Reinheitsgebot) and produce outstanding beer. In fact, I already knew that in 2012 and 2013 two WilliamsWarn BrewMaster owners put their beers into an international beer competition against 45 other commercial breweries and won Gold and Silver medals for their Pilsner and American Pale Ale, respectively.

But the price tag and the amount of beer per batch put me off. Although 23 litres is the ‘standard’ batch, I did not want to brew that quantity. I wanted to be able to be nimble with my home brewing and try lots of different beers without having to brew lots of beer volume. So, backburner again and I kept following these genius Kiwis!

Then I saw WilliamsWarn released the 10 Litre BrewKeg. The same technology at a much lower price point. I started to get excited again and when WilliamsWarn announced they were opening their Australian web shop in October 2017, I knew my time had come.

The day of home brewing reckoning has come

I placed my order and on the 7th of November my BrewKeg10 Complete Pack and Bottler arrived. I couldn’t unpack and assemble it quick enough to get my first brew started. Putting it all together was easy. As my first brew I picked Nick’s ‘Silver Medal APA’. Therefore it was not only putting the LME and DME together but cooking a hop tea as well. The kitchen was filled with a lovely hop scent that reminded me of home. I knew I was on the right path.

I put the Brewkeg10 into my kegerator, set the temperature to 23 degrees Celsius and was relieved to see the next morning the bubbles rising in the sediment bottle and pressure building up. Four days later fermentation was done and the brew got chilled down to 1 degree Celsius. It was great to see the solid waste products settle in the sediment bottle and an already quite clear beer sat on top.
On day 5 I clarified my beer and then the moment of truth had come: my first ever brewed beer was ready on tap to be poured. So far, it was just so easy. What next?

And the outcome…

Well, I couldn’t believe what came out of the tap. Did I brew that? Clear and amber in colour with a nice creamy head! And the taste? Holy Cambrivius! A real APA like it was from a hipster run craft brewery in Newtown.
Over the next couple of days I monitored the quality and had a few of my hoppy liquid gold. Quality was top-notch so it was time to put the next piece of Kiwi engineering to the test. The counter pressure bottler.

I hooked it up to the Brewkeg and CO2 bottle and couldn’t believe how easy it was to fill the bottles. Having already drunk 3 litres (for quality control!) I only had 7 litres left for bottling. Beer flies when you’re having fun.

I cleaned all the equipment – a simple easy process – and put the BrewKeg10 straight back to work.

Now a “Happy Dutchman” is fermenting (a WilliamsWarn Dutch Pilsner) and should be ready on tap on the weekend. What’s next? Definitely an IPA, I love the bold hoppy flavours and after that I’m looking forward to close the loop to my home town area and do a Tettnanger Pils. I reckon I need a WilliamsWarn Bohemian Pilsner Kit and real German Tettnanger hops to get it done. How good is that? I love the ability to be creative and experiment too.

There is nothing better than having a BBQ and a great beer brewed at home with family and friends on my deck. Summer can’t come quickly enough!