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April 12, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Turboencabulators and Homebrew

Home brewing made the national television this week. Or perhaps I should say Personal Brewing made the big time. In beer-geek-land, the WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery was launched making a splash in mainstream media as well as going viral within the beer-geek community. It seemed everyone (including Dave the Beer Guy) was commenting on the latest piece of brew-bling to hit Kiwi streets. I’m a true beer-geek magpie and I’m constantly attracted to shiny new brewing paraphernalia. I quickly pointed my browser to the website to get the low down.

The WilliamsWarm Personal Brewery is the brainchild of Master Brewer Ian Williams and Engineer Anders Warn. Seven years of blood, sweat and tears went into, frankly, one of the slickest looking fermentation systems going around. So why did Ian William go to all this trouble? Well, if you believe the accompanying marketing, Ian’s uncle laid down the challenge. In Wayno’s words:

“I’m just so sick of this blimmin homebrew… surely you can come up with a beer that’s better than this rubbish that I brew. You’ve got no idea how horrible [my beer] is.”
And [Uncle Wayne] never wanted to drink any more of that horrible, yeasty homebrew ever again.

I am sure that Ian Williams could brew up a better beer than most of Uncle Wayne’s attempts. I’m also confident that Master Brewer Ian could teach his Uncle Wayne better brewing process but instead Ian came up with the WilliamsWarn Personal Brewery – $6,600 of New Zealand engineering excellence. Wait, what the fuck…. $6,600!

How do we put this in perspective? Here are a few beer options to consider:
Option 1: Fly to San Francisco and stay for a week while sampling some of the world’s greatest beers at the Toronado. Don’t have a passport… OK, how about…
Option 2: Go “Around the world” at Hashigo Zake by sampling every beer on tap and in the fridge. Twice. Not extreme enough for you? How about this….
Option 3: James, proprietor of Bar Edward and The Hop Garden, expressed an interest in allowing you to drink free beer in his establishments for a day* while also allowing you to carry around his left nut in a jar. Yes, James would consider giving up a bollock and free beer. (Trust me, getting a free beer out of James would be harder than getting his left nut surgically removed)**.
That’s right, dear punter, you can have anyone of these options and still have enough money left over to purchase a decent homebrew setup that, with the right technique, could brew commercial grade beer.

The WilliamsWarn brewing systems offers a solution to no inherent problem. It is marvellous engineering, right up there with the jet powered shopping trolley and the turboencabulator.

But what irritates me the most is the sanctimonious marketing treatment of home-brewers. The WilliamsWarn website points out “The 12 Problems with Homebrewing”. Each of these “problems” has been addressed by enterprising homebrewers in a cost effective manner years ago. I’d invite you to go to the Salient Blog to check out my counterpoint to each of them.

There is no need to spend thousands of dollars to brew excellent beer at home. One day you may choose to buy the WilliamsWard system but it isn’t absolutely necessary. In my next few columns I will describe how a newbie can brew great beer in a cost effective manner that won’t burn you more than two semesters worth of Student Living Allowance.

* Please note that James would insist on the day and the beer you get to drink. Knowing James a little, I’m sure he would pick a short trading day, such as ANZAC Day.

** In fairness to James, he is getting married soon and saw little need to retain the testicle.


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  1. Sam says:


  2. Jim says:

    I just finished reading about the “WilliamsWarn” device on Stuff. What a piece of shit journalistic writeup in the first instance.

    I had to look at the website just to confirm to myself this device is nothing special. It is not achieving true brewing, there is no mashing/lautering/wort boiling process. This starts from kit beer (sugar syrup with the other shit in it)

    Its essentially just a temperature/pressure controlled vat, big whip dee shit.

    The marketing hype on their website is complete shite. Commercial breweries removing their product after 3 1/2 months – Bullshit. The date stamp is at least 9 months for commercial products. I won’t start on the many other points they claim

    These two clowns are beating up brewing beer like it is something new that the Egyptians didn’t discover 1000’s of years ago.

    Device going global? – wtf is wrong with NZ journalists? Any clown can put up a website that reaches a global audience. Sunday Star Times need to reimbourse their readship for printing such shit.

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