Some of you may have noticed that craft beer is kind of a thing here in Cape Town. With strong brands emerging, eye-catching beer bottles and delectable contents therein, it has spawned a new breed of connoisseurs. Beer swillers have been elevated from lager louts to lager snobs. And, in many cases, edified lovers of wine are absconding to the pleasures of the grain – Devils Peak Brewery and Red Sky Brew are but two brew shops runs by ex-winemakers. And Ken Forrester is making an ale which ferments in the same barrels that his outstanding Nobel T Late Harvest has previously been aged in.
The parallels between the production of beer and wine are many (though differing on many fronts, too) which makes transferring details about wine production and fermentation quite easy. If you know about the factors that make a wine taste and feel awesome – the balance between sugar, acidity, alcohol and tannin – then you can pick up pretty quickly the things that define a beer’s style, including yeast, bitterness, maltiness and aromas.
The fantastic thing about making beer is that it is so accessible and unintimidating. Enter Beerguevara. The only one of its kind, Beerguevara is Woodstock’s one-stop-shop for all one’s home-brewing requirements, and is growing at quite a pace thanks to enthusiastic lovers of beer, keen to make their own.
As someone making the fast transition from wino to beer slob, I joined one of Beerguevara’s beginner’s brew workshops, held at their shop in Salt Circle Arcade. The evening session took us through the brewing process step by step from crushing, steeping, boiling and cooling to fermenting, with lots of tips for getting the most out of your barley, malt, hops, water and yeast (the primary ingredients of beer). The small groups mean you can ask plenty of questions and get informative answers about how to become your very own garagista. Plenty of beers are sampled from various established craft breweries, as well as some which have been brewed at previous workshops – and you come away knowing how to spot an off-beer (sour with a band-aid-y medicinal aroma).
Economically, brewing your own beer makes sense. Your start-up costs come in at around R1 000 for all the apparatus you need to get brewing, and thereafter for every litre of beer you brew, you spend R12. That’s about R6 per pint compared with R40+ for a pint of craft beer in a bar.
For the techies, there exist many an app to excite the intrepid brewer, as well as this handy one from the Beer Judge Certification Program that helps you navigate the vast number of beer types out there.
Where Shop G7, Salt Circle Arcade, 374 Albet Road, Woodstock
Cost Workshops are R280 pp for three hours of beer 101, demonstrations, tastings and yummy cheese
Contact +27 21 447 0646, beerguevara.com
Photography Caroline Knight