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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid