Going A Little Too Far

By Glenn DeLuca

For BeerNexus.com

I’m an HGTV fan especially when I’m working out; The Property Brothers, Fixer
Upper, Love It or List It and Flip or Flop are my favs. It’s interesting watching the
different styles of houses and situations that come up and how they handle them. It’s
also a good way to stay current with design styles, learn how to address different
issues, etc. I realize you don’t see all of what’s going on since they show 4-6 week
reno’s in less than a half hour. Additionally they stage the finished product so
everything looks new and perfect and just right, whereas you may not be planning to
replace all your furniture.  And yes it can be a little contrived, especially on Love it or
List it, where it’s always one will never leave and the other will never stay, but hey it’s
a lot better than watching so called “Reality” shows .

I also get an email every few days from Houzz.com, which is a home design company.
As I understand it, this couple was remodeling their house, using the then standard
approach of collecting magazine articles and pictures and getting referrals from
professionals and friends. After a frustrating and not entirely successful experience
they felt there had to be a better way, so created Houzz; a place to browse other
redesigns, collect photos, get information on different subjects and connect with
professionals and other homeowners who have gone through or are going through
similar experiences. Each email will have a bunch of interesting articles on actual
redesigns, comparison articles on different materials, articles on working with
contractors, etc. I’ll flip through and usually find one I’m interested in.

I got one recently and one of the featured articles in subject line is; Behold This Epic
Basement Brewery! Now there’s one I’m going to open up and read!  I scroll down
and there it is; Room of the Day: Cheers to a Home Basement Brewery for Craft
Beers. The intro talks about Kal Wallner, a Canadian electrical engineer, who turned
his decade long love of brewing into a project and then a business.

So I’m ready to read an article about this guy building a brewery in his basement,
thinking it’s a step up from the many typical homebrewers who just use some of their
space and don’t worry about building something more permanent. And yes initially it’s
about him wanting to find commercial grade equipment and not being able to, so
deciding to build his own. Well that’s interesting; he must be very particular as there
is lot more equipment around; probably most built in China. He brews about once a
month, an all day affair, and is down basically every day during the two to four week

Then we get to the next paragraph and it gets very interesting. Seems it’s really a
complete build of an unfinished basement for his family of four and the brewery is just
one part of that. Other areas to be included are a bar and seating area (that makes
a lot of sense), a lounge with fireplace, a home theatre, a bathroom, a sauna and a
movie storage room. OK, well it is an 11,000 square foot basement, so they can build
all this in for adult size bodies as opposed to kids.

He hires a local basement design company; planning takes three to four months and
the build out six. He designs and builds his own brewery equipment and supplements
that with other standard pieces. When the project was finished he documents the
whole process, which took much longer than actually building it, and has published
instructions for building all the brewing equipment on his website, side business
number one.

Wallner sounds like your typical craft homebrew kind of guy, as he not only wanted to
brew but be able to serve his beverages in a nice relaxing atmosphere. The design
has his bar right outside the brewery with a large window affording a view into it, so
with the lights shining on the kettles “it’s got a little of a brewpub feel to it.” Great
design and layout!

Another reason many small homebrewers would not do this (besides not having an
unfinished 11,000 square foot basement available) might just be the cost. The
equipment cost $6,000, which since he built it himself must be all material and
supporting equipment, and the entire project cost >$100,000. And yes he did use a
design company, which gets factored into the overall.  And he created a second side
business with instructions on how to build your own home theatre, so maybe there’s
some offset to all the expense.

While I’m in awe of the result, I’m still thinking this is overkill. But then again the
Wallner family doesn’t live in northern NJ, they live in Ottawa Canada. So maybe I
should look into the weather there for some other reasoning. Ottawa is north of
Toronto and not on a lake so, as described, the summers are warm and humid and
the winters are very cold. Lows to high in June are 55 to 75, July 59 to 79 and August
57 to 77, which to us is more like a mild spring. Winter though is a different animal;
December is 14 to 27, January is 5 to 21, February is 9 to 25 and March 19 to 36.
The average numbers of days of snowfall for those four months are 13, 15, 11 and 8
and the average snow depth those months are 4.3”, 8.3”, 9.8” and 7.9” respectively.

OK, so with that in mind, a nice lounge area with a fireplace, a sauna, a movie
theatre, a bathroom with a urinal and fresh brewed beer sound like it might take an
edge off that type of winter. I hope he makes great Stout…

While I don’t see this as the next wave of homebrewing, I think I should get in touch
with him and see if I could arrange a road trip with some of the guys next summer;
heck it’s only a seven hour drive.

Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing thebigG@beernexus.com.

***   ***   ***
Glenn DeLuca
Outtakes from a life of beer.
beernexus.com presents
Big G's Beer Beat
by Glenn DeLuca
BeerNexus is proud to
welcome beer writer
Glenn "
Big G" DeLuca
as a contributor to the
site.  A widely traveled
beer hunter, Glenn is a
leading advocate for the
growth of craft beer.
More from the BIG G

The complete index of all
Big G's Beer Beat
click to enlarge pictures