News / Africa

South Africans Acquire Taste for Craft Beers

The tap at the Stanley Beer Yard in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lucy Corne, the author of African Brew, expects the number of craft breweries in the country to top 100 next year. (Peter Cox for VOA)
The tap at the Stanley Beer Yard in Johannesburg, South Africa. Lucy Corne, the author of African Brew, expects the number of craft breweries in the country to top 100 next year. (Peter Cox for VOA)
South Africa's beer market has undergone some noticeable changes over the last few years. The country, dominated by commercial lagers, has started to develop a thirst for craft beer, and the number of microbreweries in the country has quadrupled in just four years.

Last weekend, Chris MacRoberts and a few of his friends spent an afternoon at the Stanley Beer Yard in South Africa doing a very South African thing... drinking beer.

"So the South African staple is lager of about five to six percent, and everyone drinks whether it’s a green bottle or a red bottle or a brown bottle. It’s basically all the same stuff with a slight variation on a theme. Which is not, it's not bad beer, but this stuff, the craft stuff is a lot more interesting," said MacRoberts.

South Africa has long been a beer drinking country. South African Breweries the second largest brewery company in the world, owns brands like Miller and Foster's, and national brands like Castle and Hansa.

For years, those beers dominated liquor store shelves and the bar scene. Tastes have evolved, though, making way for a craft beer boom.

"And there was a big move a few years ago, toward artisanal products in farmers markets. People wanted to try locally produced cheese and bread and jams and chutneys and all of this kind of thing. A lot of people attribute the craft beer boom to these kinds of markets," said Lucy Corne, author of the book African Brew. She said four years ago, there were about 15 or so microbrews in the country. Today there are roughly 70 craft breweries. That could reach 100 by next year.

Along with the foodie movement, Corne said craft beer is about image as well.

"There's this company called Brewers & Union - they imported beers from Germany and Belgium," she said. "They made it very hip to drink craft beers and that played a huge part, because the hipsters sort of cottoned on to it. In Cape Town, the hipster culture is huge… It exploded it then. People see the hipsters drinking it and say 'ooh, this is cool, I'll do this.'"

Yurie Blomerus is the owner of the Stanley Beer Yard, a trendy microbrew pub in Johannesburg that opened in April. After running biker, and rock and roll bars, he saw a new opportunity.

"People are loving it. People are realizing that product is far superior than just your commercial average beer. It's like you can literally taste the good liquor as such, the good ingredients and of course the next day you have the evidence because you don't feel that hung over… cause it’s a good product and that's the bottom line," said Blomerus.

Grant York and brothers, David and Andrew Martin, started home brewing a few years ago. Their passion led them to open their own brewery - Smack! Republic Brewing Company, one of the first craft breweries in Johannesburg proper.

They rent a small space in an old panel beaters [auto body shop] warehouse in a hip neighborhood in Johannesburg called Maboneng.

David and Grant spent a recent night brewing a batch of beer, after both had worked a full day at their respective engineering jobs. Inside the cramped space, they washed out kegs, boiled a kettle of a coffee-infused Dunkelweisen, and poured a Belgian Style ale into the fermentation tank.

Smack! Republic Brewing Company produces upwards of 3,000 liters of beer per month, and its volume should double by year's end as it launches a bottled beer line.

 "A lot of people told us we were crazy. We love it and it certainly paid off. The reception we've gotten so far has been phenomenal. We can barely keep up with demand four months in," said York.

After another night of hard work, David Martin and York raised a glass.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs