I'm fed up with the useless South African internet/mail-order homebrew suppliers. Essentially there are only 3, and they're all pretty useless in my experience. Orders fail to pitch up for months. Ingredients that I'm told are in stock, mysteriously become out-of-stock upon ordering. Websites that list fairly common-use grains as out-of-stock -- since March 2008!
It makes me want to set up my own internet brewshop. The buggers are ripe for some competition!
There are some challenges to the thing, I admit. Firstly, I think that most (all?) of the online suppliers are under capitalised. I suspect that running a brew-supply business needs quite a lot of working capital: you have to stock quite a significant range of yeasts, malts, hops and adjuncts, not to mention expensive kits, in order to really "be in business", even if you only carry a quite restricted product range. That all ties up quite a lot of money in eminently perishable products that you hope you might sell before they're stale. Then, too, I don't know that there are enough home- / craft- / nano- / micro-breweries in SA to really sustain such a business. Maybe there are, but I suspect that it is very borderline.
And to think, all I want is some specialty malts and a couple of yeasts.
Suddenly I was struck by a passing Thought Particle! A few weeks ago we were treated to a tour of the Caledon Maltings, arranged by the SouthYeasters brew-club. (And I'm very remiss in blogging that fascinating tour!) And we learned a bit about the malting process, didn't we? (At least, as practised on an industrial scale!) Why not try my hand at a bit of malting?
So, this afternoon I bought 5 kilos of barley from the local farm co-op. Bunged 1kg into a bucket of water to soak overnight, and let's see how it goes! After all, stage one is only sprouting grains, no? And we've certainly done that plenty times. I'll probably leap in at the deep-end and try for a Caramel Malt straight-off. Why stick to something simple, eh? So the roasting process might catch me out... what's the risk? A whole kilo of Barley! If I manage to figure the process out in a tiny batch (though 1kg still gives me a decent amount of malt to use for brewing if it does work out OK) then I'll worry about scaling the process up a bit.
Hmmmmm... maybe -- between the home-brewers and the microbreweries -- there's enough of a market for a local specialty-grain maltings locally ;-)