Driving past the old Transfield site on Station Road, Seven Hills, a friend of mine noticed a sign on the side of the road saying “Brew your own beer here” and asked if I knew what it was all about. Was it just another home brew shop, or something different?
Definitely something different. The Beer Factory is like a commercial grade microbrewery, where consumers like you and I can walk in off the street and make a batch of beer. I’m not sure what their business plans are, but I can see this appealing to two groups of people.
- People who don’t want to commit to homebrewing, thinking that it is possibly unsanitary, takes up too much room in your house, or just too much time and equipment is required, but want to save some money and enjoy top quality beer.
- People who have made their own beer at home, who want to see how real brewing is done, from first principles, who might want to continue furthering their knowledge and experience about making beer.
I was taken on an brief tour of the premises by the owner, Stuart. The official opening was on the July 29, where anyone could rock up and see the operation for yourselves, and try a few different beers from the tap.
You purchase a recipe from The Beer Factory for about $150 (a number I gleaned from the chat, not official pricing). The recipe tells you the ingredients you need to make your style of beer, and how to make it. The Beer Factory has 200 recipes to choose from, at least 60 of which directly correspond to commercial beers you can buy at the bottle-o. If you wanted to make VB or Corona, you could, but many of the other recipes seem especially appealing. Each batch makes up 50 litres of beer.
You take your ingredients and put them into the big kettle, and boil them for about an hour. After that, the wort is passed through a heat exchanger into your fermentor. Then you add the yeast, and place the fermentor into the fermenting room – a 16.2°C sealed room which allows the yeast to work. This is the temperature the room was before opening – not sure of the practicing temp, or if they vary it for specific yeasts.
You then make an appointment to come back in 2 or 3 weeks time to bottle. You can bring your own bottles (if you have 150 bottles lying around like I do) or buy them from “The Beer Factory”. The beer is then triple filtered to remove all the sediment, cooled and carbonated, then put into your bottles. As a home brewer, I can see the appeal of not having yeast in the bottle, but I admit I like the idea of secondary/bottle conditioning.
As the beer is carbonated, you can drink it on the spot. Apparently it’s not unusual to lose a reasonable percentage of the beer during the bottling process, especially if you bring a few mates along to help. Bottle caps are included in the price, and they will even make labels up for you if you’d like. I personally have been thinking about making my own labels, but will probably use Avery labels as a short term solution.
The guys at The Beer Factory can help the novice brewer with the entire process. The only step they can’t do for you is add the yeast (probably for legal reasons). Even if you aren’t a big beer drinker, this looks like being an excellent opportunity to learn how real breweries produce the amber nectar.
Note: This post edited 01/08/2006 to hopefully provide clarity and reduce confusion.