Beer-drinking is on the up in South Africa, but it’s not just any old beer. Discerning beverage enthusiasts are falling over themselves for the new craft beer movement - ie a hand-crafted, artisan beer generally made by a smaller producer.
Nowadays, the traditional image of a brewer is a stout, elderly chap with a large beer belly and quite possibly a beard as well.
But since ancient times and in almost every civilisation (and beer is nothing if not civilised. Mostly.) beer has been brewed by women – South Africa is no different with the traditional ‘umqombothi’ being the preserve of women rather than men. So it is very fitting that the first, comprehensive book on South Africa’s beer is written by a woman.
Lucy Corne is a travel writer from the UK who fell into beer when she fell in love with her Canadian husband, Shawn. They travelled around the world tasting and learning all they could before settling in Cape Town where they joined local brewing group, the South Yeasters.
Brewing and beer became a passion and an obsession as SA began to catch up with the rest of the world and the craft beer movement began.
Local photographer and brewer Ryno Reyneke felt it was time to review the rise of craft beer, and between him and Lucy, ‘African Brew’ was born.
The book documents the history of brewing in South Africa and the rest of the world and provides lots of useful information for anyone tempted to give it a go yourself (it’s great fun as my home-brewing blog of last year will attest).
But the bulk of the book is a road trip Ryno and Lucy took around 7 of the 9 South African provinces, meeting brewers, hearing their tales and trying their ales.
Interspersed with beer-matched recipes from some of South Africa’s best-known chefs (Pete Goffe-Wood, Craig Cormack, Peter Tempelhoff), the book illustrates how far beer has come when 5-star chefs choose to pair some of their signature dishes with milk stout or honey blonde ale.
‘African Brew’ is a great read but it’s not just for people who enjoy the odd glass or four of the amber nectar. The best part of the book is getting introduced to the brewers themselves, hearing the inspirational stories of people who have given up a huge variety of careers to follow their dreams and reading about their passion for grains and hops.
Written in a chatty, conversational style and with lots of gorgeous pics and recipes, this was a great Father’s Day present for my husband which I have promptly shanghaied and read before him.
You can find it on the shelves of most major retailers for around R260 – probably in the food and drink section, but if you came across it in the ‘Motivational and Inspirational’ shelves, I for one, would not be in the slightest bit surprised.
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