Hops & Barley…Hmm, so Refreshing

Yip, you’ve guessed it. Hops and barley are two of the products used in the production of beer. Beer making is an aged old art. The Dutch immigrants and the British settlers brought their knowledge and expertise with them to the Cape of Storms, which was later called the Cape of Goode Hope.  Our own indigenous people, namely the Sotho, Zulu and Xhosa people had been brewing sorghum beers long before Europeans arrived.

In 1895 Castle Brewery was founded.  Its aim was to gain the support of gold miners in Johannesburg.  The brewery’s turnover tilted the scales and it was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange after only two years of being in business. The brewery was the first industrial company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.  In 1898 the brewer was listed on the London Stock Exchange.  Castle Brewery is known to us today as South African Breweries. The SAB controls the majority of the beer market, except for the imported brands.

There is a culture of new beer manufacturers, it’s been growing steadily over the past 50 years.  The last 10 to 15 years has seen exponential growth as it entered the commercial marketplace. We know it as Craft Beer.  Craft beers are extremely popular and especially in the younger generations, it’s the preferred beer. There are about 25 microbreweries in the Western Cape alone, which indicates its rapid growth.

Stellenbosch has two microbreweries, namely Stellenbosch Brewing Company and Stellenbrau Brewery.

Stellenbrau has been in existence since 2011 and was the first craft beer manufacturer to start its production in Stellenbosch. Stellenbrau’s team has used the history surrounding Stellenbosch to inspire and market their products.  The rugby legend, Dr Danie Craven inspired their lager craft beer and the lager is named Craven Craft Lager.  It’s a light golden colour but rich in maltiness.  Another craft beer is named Alumni Ale, this one pays homage to Stellenbosch University.  Its heavier than the lager and has an amber colour while having a balanced taste.  There are other craft beers, but you can explore these for yourself.

Stellenbrau offers brewery tours which takes approximately 45 minutes.  It must be quite interesting to see how beer making has evolved, as this art form has really stood the test of time.

Once you have finished your craft beer tasting, pop in at Uncle Sammy’s shop.  It’s the oldest shop in Stellenbosch and its still fully operational.  There are so many wonderful and exciting places to see in Stellenbosch.  Enjoy our valley, spend some time with us.