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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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