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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More