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Winemakers turning their skills to beer


20 July 2017 [group_audience]
What does it take to make good wine in the new world? Cold beer is one answer and a growing numbers of winemakers are tailoring their own brew. Boustred brothers Rob and Chris make Wild Beast beer at family wine estate Remhoogte. The name was inspired by the Black Wildebeest, Zebra and Antelope they keep which make for calming views from their tasting room stoep where you can now sample their wine and beer.  
“All beer styles in the world developed primarily as a result of the water used in that area, good examples include the softer water in Czechoslovakia’s pilsner and the harder water in Ireland’s stout so water quality is very important in brewing good beer,” says Rob.  
Wild Beast use water from a 200m deep farm borehole which has played a significant part in the brewing methods and styles they produce, providing a unique twist to their beer. They make an Amber and Blonde Ale which are also available on tap in the tasting room. Around 60% of the malts are from Caledon, with the balance from Germany while the hops used for aroma and bitterness are from North America.
“Our Amber Ale is made to go with a wood braai (BBQ). The smokiness from the malts works with any smoked or grilled meat. The Blonde is best enjoyed with mature soft cheeses, the riper the better,” says Rob. At Christmas time they make a beer with spices including cinnamon, adding some fresh chillies “near the end of the boil to give it a lekker, warm Christmas feel” says Chris.
Former Edgebaston winemaker Mark Goldsworthy has taken to brewing fulltime including Goshawk, South Africa’s first gluten-free beer, at The Winemaker’s Club brewery he founded with his wife Kelly. Goshawk is made from malted maize and sorghum with 70-80% of the malts for the rest of their beers from local suppliers.  
The Winemaker’s Club, in collaboration with Beyerskloof, also make Pinotale, a unique Irish red ale with Beyerskloof’s famous Pinotage. “The beer is smooth and malty with subtle bitterness, and finishes with red berry flavours and aromas,” says Mark. Winemaker’s Club also produce a Red Ale, Amber Ale and a robust Porter with notes of dark chocolate and coffee on the nose.
Both Remhoogte and Winemaker’s Club produce bottle-conditioned beers which require special yeast capable of bottle fermentation. Although nutritious, the yeast sediment should ideally be left undisturbed through careful handling when pouring as it could affect the appearance of the beer. Bottle-conditioned beers gain in complexity until they are refrigerated.    
Jonathan Snashall is a writer and wine lover. 

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