BEER IN SOUTH AFRICA
We all know about the spectacular scenery, the high-quality accommodation, wine and food in Stellenbosch. But did you know that it is home to a fantastic range of Craft Breweries? It is in fact true that the first hops (a key ingredient in the bittering and aroma of beer) were planted in 1652 by then governor, Jan van Riebeeck. Subsequently the first beer was locally brewed in 1658. (It was in fact the first European-styled beer, because sorghum beers were being brewed by the Sotho, Xhosa and Zulu long before Van Riebeeck came around with hops.)
It was with the foundation of South African Breweries (SAB) in 1895 that things began to move forward. One problem the South African beer industry has is that hops grow best in the northern hemisphere between the latitudes of 40° and 45˚, because of the freezing winters and long summer days. World War I brought with it a hop famine, which eventually led to the hop breeding program by SAB, set up in 1936. The closest matching area in South Africa that could possibly produce quality yields of hops turned out to be the town of George, at the latitude of 34˚ South, which has about 3 hours less sunshine a day in summer than in the northern hemisphere, but with some clever breeding a series of hops were produced. Finally, in the 1970s, the arrival of the Southern Brewer hop signalled the start of commercial South African hop farming, producing a variety of hops that are largely used by the modern South African craft breweries.
CRAFT BEER FOR ANY PALATE
Fast-forward to the Craft Beer scene and explore the fantastic range of styles, inspired by European, American and British styles, some with South African grown hops, some with imported varieties; many with a combination of origins. Some breweries are large and distribute their products throughout the country and even internationally, some focus on tap rooms, offering growlers as a method to take beer home. What all of these breweries have in common is an amazing level of access to the brewers and their process.
Because there are no hard-fast rules as to what can and can’t be used to enhance your beer, brewers are free to introduce fynbos, spices and fruit, amongst other non-standard ingredients. Not to mention the addition of special fruity aromas and flavours from locally produced hops (look out for beers containing Southern Passion and African Queen) and some innovation happening with wild fermented beers cultivated from yeast in the surrounding areas.
As a tourist from abroad, you will be able to take 16 litres of beer back home**, so you really can take some of the best beers South Africa have to offer back home to share with friends.
Now, go and explore the beautiful scenery and beer The Beer Route has to offer! Have a look here!
LilyPatrick Brewery Sir Thomas Brewing Co. Zebonkey Brewing Wagon Trail Brewery Stellenbosch Brewing Company Wild Clover Breweries Karoo Craft Breweries Cape Brewing Company The Kennel Brewery Berg River Brewery Soul Barrel Brewing Co Franschhoek Beer Co Mountain Brewing Company Broers Brew Triggerfish Breweries Red Sky Brew Old Potter's Inn & Brewhouse Saggy Stone Brewing Co Route 62 Brewing Company The Maker Brew
**Please check customs allowance at time of travel