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In a showroom just past The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, the smell of sweet malts and bitter hops wafts as BrewFirst employees David Lusk and Alan Soran make a new batch of beer.
BrewFirst, a startup company, specializes in helping small businesses make their own beer by sending them recipes, ingredients and, most importantly, the machinery that helps them do it, founder Darryl Cohen said.
Cohen’s machinery is designed for restaurants and smaller business that don’t have the resources for a largescale brewing operation. The machines, about the size of an oven, can make one barrel, or 31 gallons of beer, every 3 to 3.5 hours, he said.
How can the beer be made so quickly and in such large quantities? It’s all in the process, Cohen said. He said the machines do not use mash, or malts that have been run through hot water and had their sugar extracted. The material is common in beer use but can be a gooey mess to deal with.
BrewFirst’s machinery instead steeps a mixture of malts for about 20 minutes for a similar effect. The material is boiled and varying amounts of hops are added in depending on the bitterness of the desired beer.
After boiling, the material is cooled down and yeast is added. The beer goes through fermentation for one to two weeks before being carbonated and put in kegs.
Cohen said he’ll work with an establishment on making any kind of beer they want. BewFirst will come up with a recipe and test it. They’ll then send the establishment the machinery if they don’t already have it, the recipe and the ingredients.
“We have master brewers that can design any kind of beer that anybody wants to make,” Cohen said. “I don’t care if it’s 10 percent alcohol or 2 percent alcohol. I don’t care if it’s an IPA that’s triple hop or if it’s lightly hopped and tastes like pineapple. It doesn’t matter. There’s no beer we can’t make.”
Cohen said his machinery and his recipes go a long way in maintaining consistency, which can be important for a business just getting into the beer game.
“One of the things you want to do as an establishment is, if you’re making a beer that everybody likes, you want to be able to make it over and over again,” he said.
Inside the showroom, Lusk and Soran had recently completed two beers—a pineapple pale ale and a stout that was brewed with nitrogen.
The pale ale had a slight, hoppy bitterness that was cut through by the sweet pineapple flavor.
The stout, Cohen said, was inspired by the cold-brew coffee craze at Starbucks.
“It slowly forms a head and it will cascade down,” he said. “It’s not carbonated, but it’s smooth.”
Cohen said for businesses that want to start with one of his machines it usually takes about 90 days for them to get necessary state and federal licenses as a craft brewery.
He said the cost of machines, materials, recipes and legal assistance for a business to get their licenses it can cost about $40,000, but financing options are available.
So far, Cohen has established clients around Southern California and in other states such as Illinois, Connecticut and Alaska. He’s also sold machines across the pond in England.
BrewFirst’s show room is located at 33159 Camino Capistrano, Suite A, in San Juan Capistrano.
For more information, visit their website at BrewFirst.com or call 800.975.2793.