IT’S BEER O’CLOCK

In Flight Magazine - - IN THIS ISSUE - { TEXT: JULIE GRA­HAM | IM­AGES © BREW­ERS CO-OP }

I love beer. Al­ways have. Which was sur­pris­ing to some 10 years ago when beer was a drink pre­dom­i­nately en­joyed by men. To­day, how­ever, with the rise of craft beer and the ex­cit­ing new flavours be­ing in­tro­duced to the won­der­ful world of the traditional brewskie, it seems that ev­ery­one is jump­ing on the band­wagon. And the band­wagon is grow­ing at a rapid rate!

I re­cently chat­ted to two brew­ers in Cape Town who are part of The Brew­ers Co-op, an as­so­ci­a­tion of peo­ple who vol­un­tar­ily co­op­er­ate for the mu­tual ben­e­fit of mak­ing great beer. Richard An­drew, who started The Brew­ers Co-op in June 2015, and pas­sion­ate fel­low brewer, Gijs Mole­naar, are part of this ex­cit­ing co­op­er­a­tive that is tak­ing craft beer in the Mother City by storm.

In­Flight (IF): The Brew­ers Co-op con­sists of 14 brave and hop-hard­ened brew­ers and two creative gu­rus who are in­volved in the so­cial struc­ture of the co-op­er­a­tive, as well as the de­signed space of the bar. Can you tell me who th­ese peo­ple are and how the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­gan?

Richard An­drew (RA): The co-op was started by a group of 16 peo­ple, 14 of whom were brew­ers. I kicked things off. I was a home brewer and wanted to get to the next level where I could sell beer as a hob­by­ist, and still keep my full-time job. With the help of some friends, I put to­gether a prospec­tus and in­for­ma­tional posters and placed th­ese at home­brew stores, and I con­tacted beer com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions (like South Yeast­ers home­brew club in Cape Town).

GONE ARE THE DAYS WHEN CRAFT BEER AND MICROBREWERIES WERE TERMS THROWN AROUND EX­CLU­SIVELY BY HIP­STERS. IT IS NO SE­CRET THAT OVER THE PAST DECADE, SOUTH AFRICA (AND THE REST OF THE WORLD) HAS EX­PE­RI­ENCED A RAPID RISE OF AR­TI­SANAL HOP HEADS ALL ON A MIS­SION TO PRO­DUCE EX­CEP­TIONAL BOU­TIQUE BEER. IN­TRO­DUC­ING THE BREW­ERS CO-OP IN CAPE TOWN – A SPACE WHERE THE COM­MON LOVE FOR HAND­CRAFTED BEER IS CRE­AT­ING SOME NEW AND EX­CIT­ING AD­DI­TIONS TO THE BEER REV­O­LU­TION.

From this, a group of in­ter­ested brew­ers formed and over a se­ries of meet­ings an ini­tial group of 14 brew­ers and two non-brew­ers came to­gether to de­sign and fund the brew­ery and bar.

Gijs Mole­naar (GM): I had been brew­ing for five years in Am­s­ter­dam, and when I moved to Cape Town I wanted to con­tinue that pas­sion. I met one of the co-op brew­ers at AfrikaBurn and he told me about the con­cept of the bar and brew­ery. I was sold. As soon as one of the shares be­came avail­able I bought it and have been brew­ing ever since.

IF: Can you tell us a bit about your par­tic­u­lar brew?

RA: I make dif­fer­ent beers all the time, hence my brew­ery name “HopHazard Brew­ing”. I tend to make ses­sion-strength hoppy beers.

GM: I like to try dif­fer­ent things, to have some­thing spe­cial on the menu. My lat­est beer is a Bel­gium Lam­bic, some­thing you don’t re­ally of­ten find in South Africa. Which is un­for­tu­nate – I think its slight sour­ness and light al­co­hol per­cent­age make it a per­fect beer for this climate.

IF: What are some of your favourite hand-crafted beers and why?

RA: It de­pends. As long as it tastes good. I think the nice thing about small-scale brew­ing is that the re­sult is dif­fer­ent al­most ev­ery time. It is easy to brew a good-tast­ing beer, but it is hard to brew a per­fect beer and keep the taste con­stant.The devil is in the de­tails, and ev­ery step in the process has its in­flu­ence. I think some of our brew­ers in the bar are per­fec­tion­ists and brew amaz­ing beers.

IF: All the brew­ers at the co-op have day jobs and brew beer in the evenings. What do you do dur­ing the day?

RA: I’m a soft­ware en­gi­neer.

GM: I’m a sci­en­tific soft­ware en­gi­neer, work­ing for SKA South Africa help­ing as­tronomers process the data com­ing out of a big ra­dio tele­scope.

IF: The Brew­ers Co-op is try­ing to make the craft beer scene in Cape Town a hit amongst tourists and an ex­pat meet-up event takes place ev­ery month. Please tell us a bit about this?

GM: Twice a month we or­gan­ise a spe­cial evening for trav­ellers, ex­pats and couch surfers. We start at 17h00 when it is happy hour in the bar. Sangri­tas, a Mex­i­can restau­rant next door, has dis­counted food for ex­pats and trav­ellers. Ev­ery­body is wel­come! The vibe is very open and peo­ple com­ing there want to meet other peo­ple. Many lo­cals also come. It is the per­fect place to go if you are new to town and want to hang out with oth­ers, ex­plore the city, other beer brew­eries and ex­pe­ri­ence all fun things Cape Town has to of­fer.

IF: What are some of the cra­zi­est in­gre­di­ents you have heard peo­ple putting into their hand-crafted beer?

RA: Beer can be made out of any in­gre­di­ent that has starch or car­bo­hy­drates, so around the world there are many his­tor­i­cal beer styles that have in­ter­est­ing in­gre­di­ents by modern stan­dards. For ex­am­ple, Gruit is made with all sorts of medic­i­nal herbs like mug­wort, yar­row, ju­niper and many oth­ers. There’s a beer in Scot­land called Kelpie that has seaweed and uses bar­ley brown with seaweed fer­tiliser. Yeast is ev­ery­where and wild ales use en­vi­ron­men­tal yeast in­stead of a spe­cific strain of beer yeast. Rogue Beers (a large Amer­i­can craft brew­ery) made a beer with yeast from their brewer’s beard – which must be one of the more in­ter­est­ing things I have heard of!

GM: We cur­rently have a wa­ter­melon beer on tap which is quite re­fresh­ing! I tried a cu­cum­ber beer in Am­s­ter­dam last year which I think I want to try to brew here too.

Fol­lowThe Brew­ers Co-op on Face­book to stay up to date on meet-ups and to ex­pe­ri­ence the magic of craft beer for your­self: @Brew­er­sCoopCPT.

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