The world of craft beer has taken South Africa by storm and it’s evident that South Africans have gone craft-beer-crazy!
There is a ton of controversy around the true definition of a craft beer. However, generally speaking, it is a beer brewed in a micro-brewery, rather than by South African Breweries (SAB).
There are tons of craft breweries popping up all over South Africa, almost on a weekly basis. For starters, just have a look at the list compiled here.
A Brief History of Craft Beer in South Africa
One of the oldest microbreweries in South Africa is Mitchell’s Brewery which opened in Knysna in 1983. However, it was almost 10 years after that when the flight of microbreweries in South Africa really began to take off. Some of them had humble beginnings, simply in someone’s garage or even in their kitchen. From here, emerged the growing trend of the artisan beer. Today, the popularity has grown so much, that they are even giving the big commercial brands a run for their money.
Microbreweries in South Africa have evolved from a hobbyist pursuit into a country-wide trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Historically, South Africans are known to be lager-lovers. But with the emergence of the craft beer tend, South Africans taste buds have developed and are enjoying all types of beers: pale ales, stouts, pilsners etc! Lagers are just the tip of the ice berg.
In South Africa, the Western Cape has championed the rise of the microbrewery with original breweries like Jack Black and Devils Peak, to name a few. However, Kwa-Zulu Natal is not far behind with the likes of Nottingham Road and the Shongweni Brewery.
Let’s not forget Gauteng too! We have the Cockpit Brewhouse and the De Garve Brewery. Plus loads more! The Beerhouse in Fourways has a huge craft beer menu and you can actually taste loads of different types in their ‘’beer tasting’’ menu.
If you’d love to read a detailed account of the history of craft beer in South Africa, you should buy this brilliant book: African Brew – Exploring the Craft of South African Beer written by Lucy Corne and Ryno Reyneke or simply, visit the good old-faithful Wikipedia page.
Making your own craft beer
Making your own beer is as easy as following a recipe and uses just four ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. This is why it’s becoming so popular. It’s not very expensive to brew your own, and it’s pretty easy too.
The simple ingredients are:
Water – the quality and purity of water is the most important ingredient. The “hardness” of the water is determined by the minerals it has in it. Most brewers use rain water. A beer can be spoilt by poor water for example, if there is too much iron in the water, it could taste ‘’metaliccy’’. Or, if there’s too much magnesium, it could be bitter. With that said, if you’d like to brew your own in South Africa, rather buy mineral water than use the water out of the tap.
Malted Barley – Otherwise known as malt, gives beer its colour, body and flavour.
Hops – Acts a natural preservative in beer, and also contributes to the bitter taste. Hops is mainly grown in George, in South Africa.
Yeast – without yeast the beer would not contain any alcohol. (Alcohol Content of Beer) Yeast essentially feeds off the sugars within the malty wort and produces two things, carbon dioxide (bubbles) and alcohol. Yeast adds certain aromas and tastes to beer too.
In one of our previous articles, we give a brief overview of how to make your own brew. Read our beerginners Guide here.
At Norman Goodfellows, we love to support the local craft beer we have here in South Africa. Some of our favourites are Jack Black, CBC and Darling Brew. We sell over 40 local craft beers – see the full range here.