Given the opportunity, our beer-loving nation would no doubt travel thousands of miles to find the best brew on offer. For us Capetonians, this means a short trip to the Winelands.
Soul Barrel Brewing Co. is a small craft brewery proving that dynamite comes in small packages. The local business has recently earned the coveted title of Best Beer in Africa! The brewery is located just outside of Franschhoek and is built within the old tank walls of the former Drakenstein Cooperative Winery.
Their Live Culture Grand Cru beat 250 entries from 14 different African countries. The craft brewery was awarded the ‘best beer’ title at the 2022 African Beer Cup, AKA Africa’s biggest beer competition, on 14 May.
Founder of Soul Barrel, Nick Smith says winning Best Beer in Africa is one of the most significant accomplishments a brewery can achieve in Africa. “The African Beer Cup is the most competitive, intense beer competition on the continent with some of the best judges in the world. We are so proud to have won with a beer that features our very own malt and hops as well as fynbos from our garden. We believe in South African agriculture and winning best beer in Africa with a beer that’s brewed with 100% local ingredients is a testament to that.”
Live Culture Grand Cru is a barrel-aged farmhouse ale fermented with wild yeast native to the Simondium-based brewery. It’s brewed with barley from Caledon, along with citrus, fynbos and hops grown in Soul Barrel’s beer garden. The team has always believed that this is one of the best beers they’ve ever made and the award is confirmation.
This is the third year that the competition has run and the first time that international judges were invited to join. Judges from 16 different countries evaluated the 251 entries over three days. The awards evening was held at the Jack Black Brewing Company in Cape Town.
“We want to elevate the competition to be in line with other international competitions,” says the founder of African Beer Cup, Lucy Corne. “And inviting extremely experienced, highly respected beer industry experts from around the world is crucial for our competition. It’s the first time any beer competition in Africa has welcomed such highly esteemed judges.”
This year’s competition attracted a number of sponsors including global fermentation specialists Fermentis, Cape Town companies Draught Guardian and Frontier Canning, and Austrian based Anton Paar.
The judges awarded 10 gold medals, 29 silver medals and 27 bronze medals across 32 categories. The competition is judged according to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines, which focus on stylistic accuracy rather than personal preference. Beers must reach a certain score threshold in order to be considered for a medal, with a maximum of one gold, one silver and one bronze per category.
The ten gold medallists then went head to head in a Best of Show round to determine the Best Beer in Africa. Rather than a trophy, the winner receives a custom painting to celebrate their win. This year’s painting was created by Cape Town artist Ann Gadd.
Soul Barrel Brewing Co:
“At Soul Barrel Brewing, we aim to create a world-class South African beer culture by brewing artisanal, innovative beer that reflects our time, place, and personality. We believe real beer is made with soul.”
The brew crew offers a lekker tasting and intimate, guided brewery tour.
- Location: Simondium Guild R45, Simondium
- Website: soulbarrel.co.za
Picture: Soul Barrel Brewing / Facebook