After originally targeting homebrewers wanting a simple, quick way to make quality beer, Hastings company WilliamsWarn now has its sights set on a second, larger market – the hospitality sector.
WilliamsWarn launched its BrewMaster appliance in 2011 leveraging their unique pressure fermentation system, building up a base of customers keen on an easy way to brew beer or cider at home, or even in the office, in just seven days.
“The BrewMaster got us on the map with home users who are able to use it to brew world-class beer,” says Jeremy Absolom, the company’s general manager commercial.
“The challenge with it was that because it was a handmade New Zealand product it came with a large price tag. But what it did was nail our brand to the quality beer our appliances can produce in that one-week time period.”
Since then WilliamsWarn has been able to address the pricing issue through some new designs and manufacturing partnerships in China, which has brought unit costs down.
The company has now gone on to develop the BrewKeg, a trademarked innovation (like the BrewMaster) that allows the brewing process to be completed utilising any fridge or chiller, and then dispense the beer through a normal tapping system or kegerator.
“What that did was allow us to use different size pressure fermenters (BrewKegs) and open up to the opportunity of working in hospitality,” says Jeremy.
“Over the past couple of years that’s where our real focus has been – on developing a range of products and ingredients that suit bars, restaurants and cafes that want to develop their own branded beer or cider, and either produce on or off premises for their customers.”
The company’s BrewKeg allows bars to become brewpubs.
The BrewKeg system even allows WilliamsWarn customers to scale- up to the extent that they’re effectively running small breweries with a low carbon footprint.
“Because of our modular system, you can have breweries using 50 or 100 BrewKegs and producing tens of thousands of litres a week. It allows them to scale as demand grows, as opposed to having to put a big lump sum up front to build, say, a big German-style brewhouse.”
As well as saving on the significant capital costs of establishing a brewery, the BrewKeg system – where WilliamsWarn provide all the required ingredients – doesn’t need a high-ceiling building or the specialist staff normally associated with large-scale brewing.
“BrewKegs can operate in a fairly normal facility, with regular ceiling heights, normal floor weights and the same level of staff you’d employ in any bar or restaurant, because they’re working to recipes rather than having to make all the ingredients from scratch,” says Jeremy.
With a renaissance of people enjoying fresh beer off tap and increasingly looking for locally produced food and beverage, the BrewKeg concept is generating a lot of international interest and is behind a strong period of growth for WilliamsWarn, which has doubled its staff numbers over the past couple of years to 14.
“It’s early days but we’ve certainly got growing interest in a number of key global markets,” says Jeremy.
“Because of the simple nature of more sustainable brewing using BrewKegs, we’re finding we can get people up and running in different parts of the world without having to spend a lot of time training them. We can do a lot of that remotely.”