Perfecting the art of craft beer

Craft beer is taking Africa by storm, with South Africa particularly experiencing a significant growth of local craft brewers and microbreweries. Food Processing Africa spoke to a number of microbrewers about the art of crafting a beer
Craft beer, unlike mass manufactured beers, is made in small, traditional and mostly independent breweries owned by beer enthusiasts. Moritz Kallmeyer, owner and master brewer at Draymans distillery in Pretoria, Gauteng, says the biggest distinctions between craft and mass produced beer are the quality of ingredients, the variety of flavours and the brewing process. “In the case of craft beer, we take the time and make the effort to ensure we produce the best kind of beer. For example with our Altstadt Weissbier, which is a highly carbonated Bavarian style wheat beer, we use the original Bavarian wheat beer yeast strain that aids the beer in defying gravity and imparts a faint clove and banana flavour to the beer. At Drayman’s, we also brew Dussel Altbier, a German ale with a distinctly hoppy taste, with a special dry finish, achieved by a thorough stepped infusion mash that lasts for two and a half hours; the final smooth palate taste we accomplish through cold conditioning at 60C for
10 days.
“We do not do final blends of beer with carbonated water in any of our beers. As craft brewers we ignore the megatrend of brewing watered down, flavourless, caramel coloured products. This is what the art of craft beer is about – making good quality beer.”
Microbrewery establishment
These sentiments are shared by brewers at the first and only majority black-owned township craft brewery, Ubuntu Kraal Brewery, the home of Soweto Gold Superior Lager. Former South African Breweries master brewer Ndumiso Madlala attests that great beer is made with top quality ingredients. “I use a unique blend of barley malt, hops, yeast and water, as well as a unique speciality malt called crystal malt to make world class beer. Roasting at 66ºC ensures gentle yet palatable caramel and toasty flavours.” Ubuntu Krall Brewery is a result of a joint venture between Madlala, now master brewer at Ubuntu, MadMead Brewing Co,the University of Weihenstephan in Germany, and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling in London. MadMead Brewing co. situated in Soweto, is the brewing company under which the Soweto Gold brand will be produced, marketed and sold.
Speaking on setting up the microbrewery, Josef Schmid, managing director of MadMead Brewing Co, says Ubuntu Kraal Brewery was confronted with some challenges. “We had to put up R800,000 of our own money to secure the equipment – about 10% of the total cost – and the IDC agreed to fund the rest. The endless administration and bureaucracy was also a challenge.” The R8 million facility has created 120 jobs, of which 50 are specialised and held by individuals directly involved in brewing the beer. The partnership with the universities mean a few of the staff members will go abroad to learn and bring back skills to South Africa.
Capacity for the brewery is currently two million litres of beer per year. “Our beer is handmade, meaning people add the raw materials and taste the brew to find out if there is enough hop s,
malt and yeast. The bigger breweries eliminate the human interaction. Because they produce 2.5 billion litres of beer per year (in South Africa) they rely on machinery and computers to do the thinking,” Madlala said.
Smaller quantities, however, do not translate to fewer variants. Soweto Gold is currently working on a refined version of its Soweto Cherry Gold. “We are looking into including peach flavoured and ginger flavoured beer as well as an apple ale.
Our most exciting project now is brewing test batches of Orlando Stout.”

Traditional brewing process
Cape Town microbrewery Boston Breweries is one of the larger microbreweries in the country. Following a recent upgrade which doubled its production capacity, the brewery now has 24 locally manufactured 300W Solair solar panels producing 14,500kW/hours of electricity, which is 10% of the brewery’s energy needs.
The company, which brews five days a week, 24 hours a day, follows a strict traditional brewing process. Says Russ Meyer, head of sales and marketing, “Our process begins with preparing specially selected malted barley. We choose from 25 different malts produced locally, and all our barley is imported from Belgium. Once we have weighed our quantities of malt, we send it to our double-roller grain crusher.
Our aim is to simply crack the husks to allow water to extract sugars during the mash. We don’t want to crush it too finely – then it would be like flour. The revolutions per minute (RPM) of the crushing rollers is critical in achieving this.”
The crushed grain is poured into the mash tun along with heated water as the first parts of the mashing process.
“We follow a step mash process. The water and barley mixture is heated to a specific temperature for a set amount of time. Accuracy is paramount; there is no room for error.
“The steps (time and temperature) are determined by which barley enzymes we want to activate. These enzymes break down the sugars in the grain, a process that can take up to two and a half hours to complete. Then the liquid goes through lautering. The lauter tun has a wedge wire screen on the bottom with small slots to separate bigger husks from the liquid. The mixture is allowed to settle, so that the larger particles fall to the bottom and the finer particles settle on top. This filters the liquid, removing the grain husks. Too fine-textured mush would block the filter bed.
“Once this step is completed the wort is pumped from the bottom of the lauter tun back on top of the grain bed. It is continually recirculated until all the particles are filtered out and it becomes clear. The wort is then put into the boiler while we spray hot water over the grain bed in the lauter tun to remove the sugars from the grain. A refractometer is used to check that there are no sugars present.

Mixing it up

Hops is added at different intervals while the wort boils and boiling goes on for 90 minutes to ensure it is sterile when the wort reaches the fermenters. The wort is whirlpooled and left to rest for 30 minutes to allow proteins that have clumped together and the hops to fall to the bottom. The mixture is poured into a fermenter until it reaches the appropriate fermentation temperature, which varies according to the type of beer.”
Yeast is added to the fermenter, along with oxygen to encourage yeast reproduction (by cell division). This process can take anything between four and seven days. The fermenter is then chilled. Filtering (removal of all yeast and anything larger than one micron), kegging (which includes triple cleaning, steam sterilising and filling the keg with CO2 in order to flush out all oxygen) and bottling are the final stages of the process.
New player on the market, Oakes Brew House, Modderfontein in Johannesburg, however, brews its beer a
little differently. Brewer Happy Masenamela explains that Oakes craft beer does not go through a filtering process. “We opt not to filter our beers, we want the consumer to experience the full burst of flavour, and we leave it 100% natural. This is the main reason why our beer is a bit cloudier than the average beer and has a deep caramel colour.
“We brew four types of beer – easy blonde which is a light lager; American apple ale; stout and our newer recipe which is the Weiss. We import our special malt, abbey malt, the carared and caraamber and the pilsner from Wayermann; we source pale, caramel and black (roasted) malt locally from South African Breweries,” she explains.
Barely a year old, Oakes is currently producing 200 litres per batch of beer and is brewing four to five days a week. Says Masenamela: “We imported a special Braumeister Speidel kettle with a double jacket cooling system to aid us with the initial brewing process. The advantage of this equipment is that the malt is no longer washed out through an agitator, but by a gentle recirculating pump treatment of the wort. Mashing, purifying and hop boiling are all done in this single kettle.”
Masenamela, is one of very few black women in this industry. A self-taught brewer who was guided by one of the company’s directors, she has aspirations to become the first black female master brewer: “I believe I will get the opportunity because craft beer is definitely not going to disappear. As long as there is a need for authentic-tasting beer, there will be a need to produce.”
– Kgaogelo Mamabolo

Draymans Brewery: Tel +27 804-8800;
MadMead Brewing Co: Tel +27 79 890 8321;
Boston Breweries: Tel +27 11 568 0745;
Oakes Brew House: Tel +27 11 608 0612;
GEA Process Engineering: Tel: +27 11 805 6910;