What is “Craft Beer”

The term “craft beer” is being used widely lately.

But what is craft beer exactly? In South Africa the definition is loosely based on the guidelines provided by the Brewers Association Instead of the 6 million barrels number a volume of 6 million liters was used.

This is all good, but there is a further clarification that also needs to be factored in.
Craft beer is broken down into different segments. Some may argue that it is a matter of splitting hairs, but I think it is important that consumers know where the beer comes from.

The craft beer industry is defined by four distinct markets: brewpubs, microbreweries, regional craft breweries, and contract brewing companies.
According to the US definitions the breakdown is as follows:

A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels (17,600 hectoliters) of beer per year with 75% or more of its beer sold off-site. Microbreweries sell to the public by one or more of the following methods: the traditional three-tier system (brewer to wholesaler to retailer to consumer); the two-tier system (brewer acting as wholesaler to retailer to consumer); and, directly to the consumer through carryouts and/or on-site tap-room or restaurant sales.

A restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of its beer on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar. The beer is often dispensed directly from the brewery’s storage tanks. Where allowed by law, brewpubs often sell beer “to go” and /or distribute to off site accounts. Note: BA re-categorizes a company as a microbrewery if its off-site (distributed) beer sales exceed 75%.

Contract Brewing Company:
A business that hires another brewery to produce its beer. It can also be a brewery that hires another brewery to produce additional beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales, and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging to its producer-brewery (which, confusingly, is also sometimes referred to as a contract brewery).
For more opinions on contract brewing read the following by Greg Koch from Stone Brewing Co.
Interview with Greg Koch
The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.

Regional Brewery:
A brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels.

Regional Craft Brewery:
An independent regional brewery who has either an all malt flagship or has at least 50% of it’s volume in either all malt beers or in beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

Large Brewery:
A brewery with an annual beer production over 6,000,000 barrels.

(1 US Beer Barrel equates to 119 liters of beer.)

From the New York Times : South Africa Adds Beer to the Wine List

South Africa Adds Beer to the Wine List
Extract from The New York Times

Read the full article at : http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/travel/south-africa-adds-beer-to-the-wine-list.html

THE nose is floral with a touch of citrus on the finish,” said Eric van Heerden as he sniffed from a glass.

We were in the middle of South African wine country, but there wasn’t a vineyard in sight. Surrounded by miles of fallow fields and factories in the industrial area of Somerset West, outside Cape Town, we were instead at a tasting bar in an unassuming, ramshackle building that houses Triggerfish Brewing, one of the newest and brightest developments in South Africa’s craft beer scene.

Now try this one,” continued Mr. van Heerden, the owner and brewmaster at Triggerfish, as he poured us a sample of his Hammerhead IPA. “This is like my Roman Red on steroids,” referring to his brewery’s hearty amber ale. Judging by the enthusiasm of some of my fellow tasters, a similar injection of vitality is just what the beer industry in South Africa has recently been getting from these specialist brewers.

We always had great wine here but there was a dearth of what I like to call boutique beers,” said Tadious Bohwasi, a sampler from Cape Town, “but lately the craft brew industry here is booming.” Mr. van Heerden agreed: “Beer drinkers here are finally ready to try something different. It’s time to start stretching the envelope for beer in South Africa.”

Firmly established among oenophiles as one of the world’s top wine producers, until recently South Africa was not likewise held in esteem by beer aficionados. It wasn’t that the country didn’t produce beer - indeed, South Africa is home to South African Breweries Limited, a subsidiary of SABMiller, the world’s second largest beer producer - but rather that the mass-produced brew was regarded by connoisseurs as having as much in common with quality beer as boxed wine does with Bordeaux.

Though the country’s first - and still extremely popular - microbrewery, Mitchell’s, came on the scene in the early 1980s, for the next two decades the craft brew scene in South Africa was relatively stagnant, in large part thanks to SAB’s firmly established market share and affordability. But brewmasters are now doing their best to make up for lost time. In the past few years, microbreweries from across the country - Boston, Napier, Jack Black, Clarens, Triggerfish, Darling, Brewers & Union, Birkenhead, Saggy Stone, Robson’s, Drayman’s - have established themselves as among South Africa’s top purveyors. Even the big boys at SAB have begun to try their hands at microbrewing, producing special, limited-run craft brews for local beer festivals.

And South Africans’ thirst for craft brews shows no signs of being slaked anytime soon. Over the next year or so the number of independent breweries in the country will nearly double, with the establishment of labels like Devil’s Peak, Royal Mzansi, Valley Brewery and Gallows Hill.

Indeed, beer has long roots in the region, predating even wine. The first commercial beer in what is now South Africa was brewed in Newlands, just outside Cape Town on the banks of the Liesbeek River in 1658 (wine production didn’t begin until a year later); one of SAB’s breweries still sits at this auspicious spot.

The proliferation of boutique breweries has fostered several beer festivals in recent years: the Cape Town Festival of Beer (capetownfestivalofbeer.co.za), We Love Real Beer Festival (facebook.com/weloverealbeer), and the Clarens Craft Beer Festival (clarensbeerfestival.co.za)….

India Black Ale / Cascadian Dark Ale / Black IPA

In the US (and a few other places) there has been quite some fuss over a new beer style and what it should be called. The style in question is known by basically three different names; Black IPA, India Black Ale (IBA), or Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA). Bottom line… it is a dark hoppy beer.

Oakshire Brewing one of the originators of the style defines Cascadian Dark Ale as follows:
It’s dark in colour, with a prominent “Northwest” hop aroma—citrusy, piney and resinous.
The body has some sweet malt flavours, with hints of roastiness and toasted malt.
The flavours should strike a beautiful balance between citrusy-resinous Northwest hops and, to a lesser degree, roasted, chocolate malt or caramel notes.
The finish should be semi-dry, not heavy like a porter or stout.
Hop aromas and flavours should be prominent, but the malt balance should not be lost in an onslaught of hops. In other words, when closing your eyes, it should not simply taste like a typical American IPA.

The dark beer is quite confusing to some and people easily mistake it for a type of Porter or Stout…
It is most certainly not a Porter or Stout… So, what differentiates Cascadian dark ale from a hoppy porter or stout? There are really three main differences:

The first would be the basic hop profile. These beers are brewed using traditional IPA bittering, flavour and aroma hops with citrus, spice and floral characteristics. Typical hop selections would be Columbus, Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo, Simcoe and Cascade or hybrids of these like Warrior or Magnum.

The second would be the vastly reduced roast malt flavour contributions. This is done by using debittered malts instead of black patent or roast barley. These malts provide colour without the harsher, burnt flavour profiles of robust porters or stouts.

And finally, the third is the much drier finish. This is achieved through the use of very little light caramel malts and high attenuation yeasts.

The Brewers Association developed the following for the American-style India Black Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival:
American-style India Black Ale has medium high to high hop bitterness, flavour and aroma with medium-high alcohol content, balanced with a medium body. The style is further characterized by a moderate degree of caramel malt character and medium to strong dark roasted malt flavour and aroma. High astringency and high degree of burnt roast malt character should be absent. Fruity, floral and herbal character from hops of all origins may contribute to aroma and flavour.
Original Gravity = 1.056 - 1.075
Final Gravity =1.012 - 1.018
Alcohol by Volume = 5-6%
Color = 25+ SRM
Bitterness = 50 - 70 IBU

(Based on an article by Matt van Wyk - Oakshire Brewing & info from The Brewers Association)

American Craft Beer Week

Craft Brewers are artisans… No reason to say more…

Errata - National Geographic Traveller - Issue 14, pg 11 - “Europe’s Great Beer Burgs”

The latest National Geographic Traveller contains a great article on beer travelling.
It is great to have more focus on beer - in particular, craft beer - in magazines and other printed media.

We were lucky to get a mention in the side bar…

Unfortunately there are two factual errors in the article and we think it is necessary to put the correct facts out there and give credit where credit is due.

Firstly, Gallows Hill Brewing Co. won the 2011 National Home Brewing Competition (SANHC) with one of our small experimental Black Ale batches.
Our Black Ale is a Cascadian Dark Ale - also commonly referred to as a Black IPA.

Secondly, we did not brew a Coffee Stout as mentioned in the article. The 2012 Southyeasters Summer festival actually had two competitions.
The first being the normal people’s choice competition where kit / extract beers and all grain brews are rated by the festival goers.
The second being the new Wolfgang Koedel Cup. For this competition certain guidelines are prescribed for the beers entered and the judging is done by a panel of “experts”.
We won the Wolfgang Cup with a small batch Octoberfest inspired ale.
The people’s choice winner was the UCT Brewing Team with a Strawberry Witbier and the runner up was Masters Brown & May Brewers with a Coffee Stout