|Brew Your Own
Beer, Wine & Soda Homebrew & Winemaking Supplies
|21 Summer Street,
Natick, MA 01760 (508) 651-8885
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what the press has to say about Barleycorn's Craft Brew!
Something's Brewing: Barleycorn's Almost Ready to Make Brew
By Kirk W. LeMesurier, 08/28/98, The Natick TAB
is Brewing: Beer drinkers cook their own at Barleycorn’s
By Michael Meehan, 11/2/98, Metrowest Daily News
on Summer Street
By Cynthia Liu, 12/03/98, Natick Bulletin
Made By You
By John Pellegrino, 03/30/99, The Natick TAB
Perfection - A brew shop in Natick creates offbeat suds
By Susan Chaityn Lebovits, 08/7/05, Globe Staff
Brewing: Barleycorn’s Almost Ready to Make Brew
Kirk W. LeMesurier, 08/28/98, The Natick TAB
can go downtown to get a haircut, visit the florist or do some banking.
Pretty soon you’ll be able to brew some beer, wine, or soda, too.
Dan Eng hopes to open the doors of Barleycorn’s Craft Brew on
Summer Street around Labor Day weekend. When that happens, it’ll
be the end of an arduous setting-up process for his new brew-it-yourself
enterprise. “This is not like setting up most new businesses,
the equipment is very specialized,” Eng said last week as a plumber
welded a final pipe into place behind the six shiny copper kettles by
the front window.
Customers will be able to bring in recipes
or use the ones provided to mix ingredients into the steam-fired kettles,
boiling the brew before it is flash-cooled and fermented in temperature-controlled
rooms. That’s what happens during the first of two, two-hour visits
customers will make to brew their beer, wine, or soft drinks. After
two weeks, they can come collect and custom-label their concoctions.
“It plays off the resurgence of
microbrewed beer,” Eng said of his business concept, which he
caught onto while visiting some of the brewing establishments that have
taken off in the San Francisco area. “It first started in Canada,
and eventually spread to the U.S., where people tend to brew more for
quality than cost savings,” Eng said.
Eng has worked, managed and been interested
in food service for much of his career. Before earning a bachelor’s
degree in food technology at Rutgers University, he owned and ran John
Barleycorn’s Pub and Restaurant in Plaistow, N.H., for nearly
five years and managed a French restaurant in New Jersey. “It
was all good experience, but very trying at times,” Eng said.
“People don’t realize the less glamorous side of that business,
the long hours and hard work behind it.” And while he values the
experience, Eng said running a sit-down pub is not a likely part of
any future expansion. “I’ve done that and I’m not
anxious to get back into it again,” he said.
What Eng does hope to do is promote Barleycorn’s
through word of mouth. “One thing we know is that it’s tough
to get everything that’s part of this concept across in a print
ad,” Eng said. “So we’ll be relying on growth through
word of mouth and people seeing the labels and liking the idea enough
to try it themselves.” Eng says the labels, which customers design
and print themselves during the first visit, tend to be one of their
favorite parts of the process. And they’re also a great promotional
tool. “One important way people can use what they make here is
at special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, or companies having
a special event of some kind,” Eng said. “That’s where
a lot of people see their host’s own labels and think they’d
like to try it too.”
David Csordas, a representative of Custom
Beer Brew Systems, which manufactures brewery equipment on a per-order
basis, is himself down from Canada to oversee the installation and to
help with its start-up. “It quite often takes longer than expected,”
Csordas said. “This is about an average time.”
It feels long to Eng, however, who says
he’ll be glad to be up and running. “It feels like forever
we’ve been getting ready,” says Eng’s wife, Priscilla.
“When I first looked at this building
I wasn’t that impressed with it,” Eng said. “It was
a shell that needed new plumbing, electrical work, everything.”
Eng says he was sold on the location when he did some research on the
area and found Natick Center to have an active development plan. “Their
plans seemed very well thought-out, and I thought this would be a great
opportunity to get in on the ground floor here,” he said.
And while he’s anxious to get up
and running, Eng says he wants to give everything a good test run before
people start brewing. “I want to be operational before our grand
opening, to make sure everything with our equipment flows smoothly,”
he said. “No pun intended.”
is Brewing: Beer drinkers cook their own at Barleycorn’s
By Michael Meehan, 11/2/98, Metrowest Daily News
- Daryle Grof began brewing beer in his bathtub six years ago. He dabbled
at first, but he soon discovered his hobby was far more interesting
than his job. Finally he decided to make beer a profession and started
looking for brewing jobs. After a few years of searching, he joined
70 other respondents to a single ad for a brewing assistant at Barleycorn’s
Craft Brew in downtown Natick. Store owner Dan Eng was opening a spot
where people could come in and brew and bottle their own beer. Grof
turned out to be the right man for the job. “I’ve always
liked good beer and I like to cook, so I decided to cook good beer,”
Grof said. “This is my dream job.”
For many, beer is a love affair. Saaz
hops and carastan malts may not mean much to the average person on the
street, but to beer enthusiasts they scream Czech Pilsner. Many men
define themselves by the beer they drink - there is a world of difference
between lovers of Guinness Stout and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Eng is counting
on that affection for beer to buoy his new store. While visiting the
West Coast, he saw similar operations and decided to bring the idea
At Barleycorn’s anyone can pick
out a recipe, put it together and two weeks later have six cases of
beer ready to drink. Brookline opera singer Greg Ciccolo joined a group
of friends for a trip to the store and admired the handiwork of his
first capped and custom labeled bottle. “You think this is the
way Auggie Busch started?” he asked. “No, I think he started
with a few million dollars,” his friend Mike Lew replied. Ciccolo
dubbed his pilsner “Buffalo Beer,” not so much because he
likes the animal, but because it was the only thing he could generate
on the store’s graphics station. “I couldn't manipulate
the Mac,” he said. “The first thing I got up there is a
buffalo. That’s how you get Buffalo Beer.”
Everyone in Ciccolo’s group was
a novice and decided a trip to brew up a batch of beer made a perfect
guys’ night out. They started by sifting through the computer
recipes to determine what they wanted to make. “You can make virtually
any type of beer,” Eng said. “You can really tailor it to
your individual taste.” Eng will even special order ingredients
for more experienced brewers.
After the ingredients are selected and
measured out, the men put them in a giant tea bag which sits in a copper
cauldron with 13 gallons of steam heated water. After the bag steeps,
pitchers of extract are added. Malt extract looks like little more than
brown goo, but it helps give body to the beer. Finally, hops are added
at intervals while the mixture boils to add flavor and aroma. The beer
is then transferred to a large fermentation barrel. That’s when
the brewer goes home and Eng’s establishment plays baby sitter.
The beer ferments for a week and when the time is right, Eng runs it
through a filtration and carbonation unit and stores it in a refrigerated
room. When the brewer returns, the beer is ready for bottling.
Grof helps explain to brewers how adding
hops too early can make a beer bitter and how boiling the mixed solution
breaks down the proteins that can make a beer cloudy. Unlike the home
brewing process, the beer is ready for consumption immediately and sediment
doesn't lurk at the bottom of the bottle. Customers also don’t
have to clear out closet space, give up their bathtubs or spend hours
sanitizing bottles with bleach solution. With a fully automated set-up,
Barleycorn’s has removed much of the grunt work.
Barry Peskin looked upon his time at Barleycorn’s
as unveiling one of the great mysteries of life. “I’ve always
been a beer drinker,” he said. “I’ve never liked wine.
But until now I always took making it for granted. It’s pretty
amazing to watch it all come together.”
Six cases run from $95 to $120 depending
on the ingredients used. Bottles cost extra. Brewers can also keep their
concoctions in five-gallon kegs. Barleycorn’s also has the ability
to make wine and soft drinks.
“I got to come in and design my
own special type of beer,” Mark Mandell said. “It’s
sort of a lighter dark beer and it’s really no more than you’d
pay to buy the same amount of good beer.”
About the only thing you can’t do
is drink what you make on the premises. Natick is a dry town and alcohol
consumption is only allowed in establishments that also serve food.
“We had to be very clear when we went before the town that we’re
not opening a barroom here,” Eng said. “This is for people
who want to make beer and drink it at home or at a party.”
Given the variety of seasonal specialty
brews that have become popular, Eng may just have discovered a year-round
winner. “I thought it would play well with the resurgence of interest
in microbrewed beers,” Eng said. “People are looking for
more variety. They can come in here and make exactly what they want.”
Beginnings on Summer Street
By Cynthia Liu, 12/03/98, Natick Bulletin
Summer Street has become a place where old and new businesses begin,
re-start, and collide. Three businesses, Barleycorn’s Craft Brew.
The New Rudy’s Coin-Op, and Sterns Smoke Shop epitomize this eclectic
fusion of novelty and tradition on the street.
Barleycorn’s, which is owned and
operated by Dan Eng, is the newest addition to the block. It is one
of the few u-brews in New England. It opened its door on September 19
of this year. U-brews, also known as brew-on-premise, are facilities
in which people can come to make their own beer, wine, and soft drinks.
At Barleycorn’s, customers can create
their own unique blend. Eng has recipes for American and Canadian beers
as well as Brown and Pale Ales and European lagers.
The concept of the u-brew is relatively
new. According to Eng, the idea began in Canada in response to the high
rate of taxes on liquor. The idea then moved to the United States in
1994. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington States were the first places
to popularize u-brews, Eng said. On a business trip to San Francisco
, Eng discovered the u-brew and began researching the concept.
“I thought it was a unique idea,
especially with the resurgence of interest in microbreweries,”
he said. Eng is careful to note that his place can not be considered
a microbrewery or a craft brewery. “We don’t serve or sell
beer, we provide the services and facilities to make beer,” he
said. Craft breweries do not allow patrons to make their own beer. They
simply sell and package unique beers. Eng estimates that there are between
12 and 15 craft breweries in the Greater Boston area.
Many people are initially confused by
what Eng does. He remembered that when he first opened up the local
town government was baffled by how to classify the business. After some
debate, the town government finally decided on the designation “retail
business.” Barleycorn’s can not be considered a liquor store
because it does not sell alcohol. Another unique feature of the store
is that it does not have a liquor license but it does check IDs. Any
one who wants to make beer or wine must be 21 or over.
Although Eng had some reservations about
starting a business in Natick, he says all of those worries have evaporated.
“I had my doubts,” he admitted. “It was an empty building
in disarray. I was not totally enamored by the building in the beginning.”
He decided to stay and is happy about his decision. He said that he
is quite excited about his prospects in Natick and the town’s
growth. “The town seemed to have a direction,” he said.
Eng said that he decided to stay because
he felt that the town was committed to progress. He cited the town’s
hiring an outside consultant and building a new police and fire station
as reasons for his deciding to start a business in town. “Just
in general, I liked the feel,” he said. “The old world craft
goes well with the downtown.”
Brew’s Made By You
By John Pellegrino, 03/30/99, The Natick TAB
Natick business owner Dan Eng and beer lovers throughout MetroWest may
soon become fast friends. Eng, owner of Barleycorn’s Craft Brew
on Summer Street, provides a service that allows those who enjoy a brew
or two to make their own beer and tailor the taste of the beer to their
Barleycorn’s lets individual customers
choose their own recipe and assists them in making their own beer and
labeling each bottle with whatever name or slogan they choose. “We
provide the instructions, ingredients, and facilities for a person or
a group of people to come in and brew their own beer,” said Eng,
who opened Barleycorn’s in September 1998. “Some people
will know what they want from a beer while others will need a little
bit of guidance. We are here to assist them in finding the right beer.”
A typical visit to the home brewing business
starts out with the customer choosing the style and taste of beer they
wish to make. Customers can choose from more than 70 beer recipes and
ingredients such as malts and grains are weighed. The elements that
will make up the beer are then put in a special bag and placed in a
kettle of hot water. After a period of less than two hours, the mixture
is cooled, yeast is added to it and the mixture is placed in a fermentation
room for about two weeks. After the two week period, the customer comes
back to the business and bottles and labels the beer using bottling
machines. For a price of $95-$120. depending on the amount of ingredients
needed to make the beer, the customer goes home with about six cases
of their own unique brand of beer.
“The beer people will make will
be as fresh as it possibly can be because you know it’s just been
made,” said Eng. “It hasn’t been in storage, and you
don’t always know what the storage conditions are when you buy
brand name beer. There are no preservatives or anything else added in
this beer. Most people come in with a friend or a group of friends to
make beer for birthday or anniversary celebrations, or for special occasions
like the Super Bowl.” Eng added that the shelf life of the beer
is six months to a year in spite of the lack of preservatives.
Barleycorn’s features six large
copper brewing kettles, a fully automated sanitizing system, a temperature-controlled
fermentation room and a refrigerated aging room, bottle washing machines
designed to sanitize each bottle before beer is placed in it, and six
bottling machines. “The beer is very fresh and you can taste the
difference,” said Eng. “People can make the beer to their
own particular tastes.”
Eng’s business is a new concept
to the East Coast. According to Eng, the brew-your-own-beer concept
began in Canada because of the high taxes on beer and wine in that country.
Eng said the first business of this kind opened in Colorado in 1994
and the concept spread to California. Eng said only businesses in Shrewsbury
and Nashua, N.H., are similar to his. “This is the only operation
of this type in the greater Boston area,” he said. “I thought
it was a very unique and trendy idea and something that would play well
in this area. Business has been going pretty well, but we still need
to get the word out and explain the concept to the people.”
After looking at setting up shop in communities
from Somerville to Southboro, Eng said he settled on Natick because
he was impressed with the town’s newly built municipal buildings
and the town’s development of a master plan for the downtown area.
“I saw this as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of
hopefully a growth trend,” he said.
Although most customers make beer on the
premise, equipment to make wine and soft drinks are also available as
well as a full selection of homebrewing supplies.
Perfection - A Brew Shop in Natick creates Offbeat Suds
By Susan Chaityn Lebovits, 08/07/05, Globe Staff
settle for a Sam Adams when you can have a brew named after you?
At Barleycorn's Craft Brew in Natick,
Dan Eng maintains a computer database with more than 130 varieties
of beer. If it's summer, he may offer a recipe for Bambino Summer
Ale (refreshing with a slight hint of lemon zest); in winter, Nor'easter
Winter Ale (dark, heavy, malty, and smooth). But why be restricted?
Tell Eng your tastes, and he'll help you tailor the ingredients.
You can brew your beer -- or soda or
wine -- at Eng's place or buy the ingredients and equipment and take
them home. The 54-year-old Wayland resident used to own a restaurant
in Plaistow, N.H., but tired of the long hours. On a vacation to the
West Coast, a beer-brewing operation caught his eye. ''The business
concept captured my imagination," Eng said. ''I thought it was
something that would play fairly well in the Boston area because there's
such a great deal of beer knowledge."
After researching the business and consulting
people across the country, he launched Barleycorn's Craft Brew in
1998. ''We've had growth every year since we've been open." Barleycorn's
is the only place in the state where you can brew on the premises,
according to a listing from the American Homebrewers Association.
''Over the course of doing this, I've
tried a very wide variety of beer, so my palate has definitely expanded,"
Eng said. When traveling, he always looks for beer festivals, brew
pubs, and microbreweries to sample.
''I gravitate toward English-style bitters," he said. ''Anything
that's on cask I like; they're usually served warmer and are less
carbonated than what you'd expect." One beer a day is usually
it for him. ''I'm not a really big drinker. When I go into a brew
pub, I'll order a 'sampler' rather than a large beer."
The brewing process involves two sessions,
each around two hours -- the first for brewing; the second, two weeks
later, to bottle and create a personal label (Eng has a computer and
scanner to help the creativity). The yield -- six cases of beer, or
72 bottles on average. The cost -- between $95 and $130 depending
on the recipe.
Customers measure out the required ingredients (the chosen type of
malt, yeast, and grains) and stir them into the steam-heated copper
kettles. Cooking takes about two hours. The brew is then flash-cooled
and transferred to a fermenting vessel and stored in temperature-controlled
rooms. Eng filters and carbonates the beer so there is no residual
yeast. ''We do all of the cleanup," Eng said, ''a big factor
when you consider how much work is involved in the process."
About two-thirds of Eng's customers
are male, and the median age is 35 to 40. ''I don't have a lot of
young customers," Eng said. ''I think a person's particular taste
in beer tends to mature later. The college [crowd] usually looks for
quantity, not quality." Eng said many of his customers are teachers,
computer programmers, biochemists, and scientists. Eng recalled one
man who made beer for his wedding, calling it ''Ball and Chain Brew."
Another customer paid homage to the poem, ''Casey at The Bat,"
naming his creation ''Mudville Brew."
Brian Kenney, 40, of Ashland, just made a Bass Ale clone. Kenny, a
refugee from high technology who is now a stay-at-home father, slipped
into the shop while his children were at camp.
''I usually come with my neighbor every
three to four months," he said. ''This way I get to spend money
on a hobby instead of [only] spending it on beer."