Fancy learning more about making your own beer or tasting local homebrew? Here are some tips I picked up at the The SouthYeasters Summer Festival this year.
The first time I ever heard about the SouthYeasters Homebrewers Club was when my friend Sean (yes, his real name) decided to embark on making his own beer – in his bathroom. Knowing what lengths most men will go to for beer and having had a grandfather who attempted wine-making that resulted in a million plastic tubes all over the kitchen and some interesting concoctions at Christmas lunches, I was intrigued as to how this would turn out.
Turns out that beer-making in your kitchen, bathroom, garage or bedroom cupboard has become quite (dare I say it) trendy and now there are craft beers and homebrewers popping up everywhere. There are also meetings hosted by SouthYeasters that you can attend, where you get to learn about making beer, taste lots of beer and just generally get together with beer-loving-and-brewing-people.
Needless to say Sean was quite enamored with all of this and I have heard countless tales involving using a fan to keep the temperature right, scrubbing floors with Jik to keep things sterile, the endless search for a 15 litre enamel pot to brew the beer in and of course the We-Make-Beer-Meetings. Then there was the great excitement when his beer had finished fermenting in a bucket in the bathtub and was ready to be bottled. I practically felt like I had brewed this beer myself, so when I heard about the SouthYeasters Summer Festival I knew I had to go and find out what all this homebrew fuss was about. Naturally I invited Sean to accompany me and his excitement matched that of a man being offered, well, beer.
The SouthYeasters Summer Festival was held at SAB Newlands on a sunny Sunday (beer and sunshine are always a good combination) and the giant marquee was filled to the brim with brewers and beer drinkers with over 1 600 litres of beer on offer. This event is the biggest homebrewers competition in South Africa and every year it gets bigger (because everyone is now making beer). The idea is that brewers take in their homebrew for everyone to taste and non-brewers taste all the beer and then vote for their favourite brewer using marbles. When you enter the festival you get a branded tasting glass and two marbles. You then put your marbles into a cup on your favourite brewer’s table. You can either vote for your favourite brew with both marbles, or split your vote between two, which is great for Capetonians as we have a tough time deciding on anything. Counting of marbles then takes place and whoever has the most marbles wins. While the rest of the rabble lose their marbles from tasting too much beer (I lie, it was one of the most civilized beer-drinking festivals I have ever been to).
We tasted beer for hours and by the end of it I was having a tough time discerning between Indian Pale Ales and American Pale Ales. Then there were beers that had “hints of cinnamon” or a smokey “biltong flavor” and beers that had been brewed with chocolate and chillies. There were all-grain beers and hop-less brews. I tasted beers called The Iron Lady, Dead Skipper and Frankenbrew (good for Halloween apparently). Beers were being poured by Bad Dog Brewing Company, Triggerfish, The Brew Cru, Three Anchor Bay Brewery and Flipside Brew to name a few. There were even beer muffins! Talking of food, there was a fair amount of that as well, including paninis (R30), prego steak rolls (R40) and said beer stout muffins (R10). There was also a spit on the go, but I never stayed long enough to see that materialise (it looked good though).
There was ample seating under umbrellas and nice shady spots on the lawn, where you could drink your beer, eat your food and have a break from the crowds under the marquee. At 3pm the winners were announced, with the last beers being poured at about 3.30pm and the festival closed at 4pm. Just in time for a lekker beer-infused Sunday afternoon nap! If you were a little unsteady on your legs, the guys from Home Hero were on standby to make sure you got home safely. All in all it was a great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday and while I am still find the different beer-making processes somewhat confusing, I left the festival knowing just a little more about home-brewing and fairly impressed with the beers on offer.
How to make your own beer
I don’t think I will ever take up beer-making as a hobby, but in case you are thinking about it, below is a beer-making guide, courtesy of the SouthYeasters Homebrewers Club. Hopefully see you (and your beer) at the SouthYeasters Summer Festival next year!
Oh, in case you are wondering who my marbles went to, in the end I gave mine to Sean. Any man who arrives at my house with bacon and eggs for breakfast, served with a bottle or two of his home-brewed beer gets my vote! It was damn fine beer too. You can read all about his forays into home-brewing in the May 2014 issue of Popular Mechanics.
People’s Choice winners at the SouthYeasters Summer Festival 2014
These are the brewers to watch out for in the future as they got all the marbles.
1. Masters Brown & May
2. Three Anchor Bay Brewery
3. Atlantic Storm
4. Bad Dog Brewery
SouthYeasters Homebrewers Club
Get in touch with these guys if you are serious about homebrew, bru. They have monthly meetings (next one is on Wednesday, 11 June), competitions, events and are full of great advice and helpful tips to get you started. www.southyeasters.co.za