If you ask any home brewer what their fantasy is, I’m sure they’ll tell you something involving gratuitous spending, perhaps a yacht makes its way into the discussion, possibly a supermodel or two, but AFTER all that, most will tell you they would love to brew their favorite beer recipe on a big batch, professional system. For those condo-dwelling home brewers like myself who are confined to making five-gallon extract recipes on their stove tops, the dream of making a beer on a professional scale remained, for the most part, nothing more than a dream. That is until now.
The product of an inspiring Kickstarter campaign, brother and sister, Chris and Laura Bruns, founded Denver’s Factotum Brewhouse in early 2015 on a simple but brilliant business model. Unlike any microbrewery before it, Factotum Brewhouse provides a unique service by allowing guest brewers to come in and brew whatever style of beer their heart desires on their professional, 7-barrel system. Not only do they offer home brewers an amazing opportunity to take their brewing skills to the next level, but the fruits of their labor are then shared with the public. Every beer on tap at Factotum is courtesy of a guest brewer.
For starters, as any home brewer will tell you, you can simply do more when brewing all-grain. It’s not to say that you can’t brew delicious, extract recipes at home, you can. In fact, that’s exactly what extract recipes are designed for. Extracts simplify the brewing process. They cut down on the guess work, provide a stable base for your beer, and you can find ready-made kits to help you brew virtually any style of beer. However, when working with all-grain recipes, the brewer has many more ingredients and variations at his or her disposal. Simply put, it’s far easier to fine tune and customize a beer recipe when working with all-grain recipes.
Unfortunately, in order to brew an all-grain recipe at home you need the right equipment, and a decent ten-gallon, all-grain system with all the fixings could easily run you $500.00 or more. Plus, if you are limited on space at home like me, an all-grain system can be impractical and cumbersome. At a cost of $395.00, Factotum Brewhouse allows you to brew an impressive 14-keg batch of beer. That price includes a $100.00 credit at the brewpub, and they allow you to take a keg of your masterpiece home with you.
But in my opinion, the greatest aspect of brewing on Factotum’s big batch system is that it is the ultimate litmus test for a home brewer. I brewed a family-inspired, vintage-style Irish red ale, and to kick off the first ever public tapping of my beer, we held a tapping party at Factotum’s spacious, industrial brewpub. Experiencing firsthand what goes into big batch brewing was exciting and educational in itself, and promoting and hosting a great tapping party was an added bonus, but there was no greater thrill for me than to quietly pop a squat at the bar and to see customers drinking and enjoying the beer I had created. If you want the experience of being a brew master for a day or to see what unbiased beer drinkers think of your creation, then I would strongly advise you to “go big, or go home.” As I can personally attest, when it comes to brewing size definitely matters.