Making Beer Myself

A friend of mine recently gave me a home beer brewing kit, and while I don’t have any frame of reference, I can tell it’s probably a nice one. 15 years ago, I would have viewed this kit and its potential reward very differently. Meaning, now that I have three children and a business to help run, the idea of taking the time to make my own beer is very near the bottom of things I have thought about doing of late.

After walking by the unopened box in which the beer kit came about 50 or 60 times, I decided that I owed it to my friend (and to my wife who was tired of seeing the box sitting on the dining room table) to at least give it a try. So, I opened the box and carefully took out all of the somewhat fragile contents, and just as I was starting to boil the water, I was reminded that I was supposed to take my son to gymnastics. Obviously, the carefully placed ingredients sat on the dining room table for another week, but at least I had unpacked and recycled the box!

Eventually, I did brew, ferment, and bottle the beer. The whole process takes about 6 weeks (!), and I currently have 8.75 beer bottles in my basement going through the final phase (carbonation). In about two more weeks, I should have what I’m guessing is going to be just over 8 ½ bottles of a slightly-better-than-terrible IPA. Even if it turns out to be excellent (again, not likely), I will contend that the time spent will not be worth the result. I would much rather pay Old Busthead or some other such expert to serve me a great tasting beer at a reasonable cost. And by cost, I mean both the out of pocket cost as well as the cost of my time (and dining room table space).

One other quick side-note: while I was making the wort (fancy beer-brewing term), my entire family retreated to the basement for most of an afternoon until the pungent stench I had created went away.

The home beer making experiment reminded me of a study that my partner Sarah and I often refer to when explaining our value to clients. (Sorry, I had to tie this post back to business at some point!) Vanguard did a study called in part “Putting a value on your value,” which suggests that a good advisor can add as much as 3% of value to clients. I won’t go into all of the details, but I will say that most of the value added came not from investment performance, but the actual guidance and coaching that we as advisors and planners bring to our customers.

Much like I am capable of making my own beer, most of our clients are capable of managing their assets in some capacity. But, is it worth your time, effort, and energy to come up with what might not be the best result? In the world of beer making, I for one would rather leave it to the experts!

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