Why don’t you ask her if #shelovesbeer?

All good stories start with a beer (alright I will be honest – a few beers) and so one cosy winter night, beer in hand, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across the ‘Brewed with Love’ Campaign, this campaign struck me as unfair. Besides the fact that carrying a child is a lot harder than sipping on your favourite brew, it was the fact that men have this authentic point of reference when it comes to enjoying beer while advertising portrays women half naked, sultrily gazing at the camera in some awkward pose. You only need do a quick google search to find the extent that women are objectified when it comes to advertising beer.

So initially my light bulb moment was to create some kind of meme which authentically portrays Teaser 1women in beer. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually there is much more that can be done. The South African beer industry already has some strong women who are playing on equal terms to the men and I wanted to engage them in this campaign to get their views and experiences. And so the #shelovesbeer campaign was born. This campaign will launch on the 9th August 2016 in line with National Women’s Day, to recognise the women who are leading the Beer Revolution and to inspire many more to join us!

What started with a Facebook Group (called #shelovesbeer) of 10 women has now grown to 89 vivacious, smart, beer loving ladies with the aim to create dialogue that celebrates women in beer and to give them a way to engage with beer in a positive and uplifting way. It is also aimed at providing the opportunity to connect, share, learn, inspire and educate.

We really do have some amazing women to celebrate. Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela a lady of many firsts including the first black South African person to be certified as a beer judge through the Beer Judging Certification Programme (BJCP) and the first black female shareholder in a microbrewery in South Africa.

Frieda Dehrmann, Consumer Science and Sensory Manager at SABMiller, Frieda was awarded SABMiller’s Global Taster of the Year 2012 an event that drew 1600 participants from six international regions served by SABMiller.

Meghan McCulloch (Jack Black Brewing Company) and Phillipa Wood (Darling Brew) both pioneers of craft beer in South Africa, starting their brands with their hubbys back in 2007, both beautiful breweries and tasting rooms have opened their doors in the last 12 months.

And of course Lucy Corne craft beer blogger, author, BJCP judge and president of the SouthYeasters Homebrew Club in the Western Cape.

TeaserAt first we exchanged stories about the challenges we had faced as women who enjoy a brew and are in the beer industry and it was clear that our experiences were all very similar: being offered beer alternatives or fruit beers instead of being asked our preferences; not being taken seriously in our opinions, tastes and advice or people suggesting that you “tart up” your female servers to punt more beers to Joe public. Don’t get me wrong, we are all supported by our male industry counterparts but the reality is that most people already underestimate a woman’s knowledge and understanding before we even open our mouths.

With that part neatly tucked out of the way, we couldn’t have this group turn into a moan fest. We started talking about strategies to deal with this….the main theme that came out was just keep on doing what you are doing gals, surprise them with your equal (if not better 😉 ) skills, expertise, attitude and discerning taste in beer!

The group has now collaborated on the #shelovesbeer campaign, which will showcase the smart and sassy beer lovers across South Africa, with the hope that we can create a platform to connect with more beer souls to explore their passion.

So what’s actually happening on Women’s Day? Well we have already had two brew days. In Cape Town, Lucy Corne and BeerLab’s Lynnae Endersby brewed the dark and hoppy  ‘Orange is the New Black IPA’ while in Johannesburg,  Amber x Brown Ale ‘African Queen on Vic Secret’ was brewed by Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela & Michelle Erasmus. The ladies’ brews will be available at Beerhouse on Long (Orange is the New Black) and Beerhouse Fourways (African Queen on Vic Secret) on the 9th August.

We have also had two photo shoots with the girls from the #shelovesbeer group for the campaign and used it as an opportunity for an informal networking session to have a laugh and talk about beer. I would like to extend a special thanks to the girls on the ground making things happen (have look at Janine & Precious’ Blog)!

On the 9th August we will go live with a social media campaign via Beerhouse social media using the #shelovesbeer. SABMiller are running a parallel campaign to celebrate their wonderful women in beer and Beerhouse will have an in store promotion with both beers brewed specifically for the day being on tap for free! So come along to have a taste and meet some of the girls!

#shelovesbeer doesn’t end on National Women’s Day, this is a community for women to talk about something they love, exchange ideas, create meetups and share skills. There is a wonderful world of beer waiting for you!

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Let’s raise a glass to the women who bring you your beer! Cheers to us 🙂

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An Open Letter from an Average Boring Beer Drinker

{Note from the Online Editor: Beerhouse received the following in an email from one of our subscribers. In the interests of promoting free beer speech and balanced beer debate we have agreed to publish the letter while respecting the author’s wish to remain anonymous. The letter does not necessarily reflect the views of Beerhouse or Beerhouse employees}

Dear Beer Snobs

All that sophistication and it takes a drinker of ‘affordable domestics’ to tell you this: we were never really friends. At best we were passing acquaintances, most likely as I was passing you on my way to kick someone’s ass, and you were headed back to your Bumfluff of the Transcendent Unicorn IPA.

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It’s true that we were all in the same boat in college, but you got soft and jumped ship. You traded in your wife beater for a polo neck, and started using phrases like ‘a ballet of hops dancing on a malt stage’. You betrayed your budbrothers, and like a Judas goat you expect us to follow you and your trendy, micro-brewing shepherd.

I say this to you now: Never!

Never will we sacrifice the ability to drunkenly buy vast amounts of fried chicken at 3am because we’ve spent that money on craft beer! Never will we be confused about the contents of the bottle in front of us, or pretend to care about the supposed difference between this bottle of APA and that bottle of IPA! Never will any beer we drink make us feel like we’re licking a skunk’s butt! And never, absolutely never will we talk about beer like we’re discussing a Broadway musical!

You see my dear ex-acquaintance, you’ve missed the point. New And Better has only ever promised you wonders and delivered dog turds. New And Better brought you Enron, the Gulf of Mexico and Batman and Robin. Yes We Can? No. In reality, you can’t.

Average And Boring, on the other hand, is safe. You know where you are when you’re downing your seventh Heineken, and you can feel confident that your beer breath is a known and socially accepted quantity. Drinking craft beer all night might give you a pleasant buzz, or it might have you straining not to explosively shart your pants as you search in vain for the women that have forsaken you and the stench of tripled-hopped fermentation that clings to you like the foul-smelling ghost of good times past.

But we can fight our corners like they’re on opposite sides of the West Bank all night long. The truth is that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. (Except for the last guy with one eye. He’d probably just run away from all the angry blind people.) I’d rather remember the good times, when you ran with the wolves instead of pissing like a puppy.

Remember how we used to shotgun a sixpack each, and then tactically vomit so that we could shotgun the next one quicker? Remember when bottles of beer were just bottles of beer, and we could watch the game without worrying about which particular bottle we were actually drinking? Those were the days when we drank beer without really tasting it, without caring how it was made and without wondering if there was a better beer out there somewhere. Because that, dear Beer Snob, is your fate. You’re stuck in the future, driven by a yearning for that monstrous, Perfect Beer mirage – and forever coming up short.

And us? We’re here, now, kicking back and glugging our affordable domestics with our mates. I’d say you’re welcome, but I’d be lying.

Yours,

An Average Boring Beer Drinker

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All roads should lead to Clarens

All roads should lead to Clarens. Especially in February, when it’s time for SA’s best Beer Fest. I have been privileged to attend a lot of Beer Festivals in the last two years; this was my second Clarens Beer Fest and it’s now officially an unmissable event in my calendar. Clarens #3
Why is it South Africa’s best? Well, there are a lot of reasons. First, the Eastern Free State has got to be one of the most scenic and beautiful places in the world – the lush green rolling hills and unique rock formations are simply magnificent. Second, Clarens itself is delightfully old-fashioned. A remnant of bygone town planning, the communal grass square serves as an awesome platform for a Beer Festival. Third, all the Brewers have to be present. This is a big drawcard for me, as some brands at other Festivals are happy to have poppies flaunting their wares, or are content to hire staff to pour their beer. Most of these hired beer dispensers have little or no knowledge of their product. Their apathy irritates me, and makes me not want to consume their products. In Clarens the Brewer is right there at the stall, pouring your beer and answering questions like, “Whats your grain bill?” Ask a hired poppie that question and you might get a pearly-white smile and a “Er – I’m not sure what I spend on cereal.” So Clarens is great for both more seasoned travelers and those starting their journey. photo 1 (3)Finally, each brewer has to brew a new beer specifically for the festival. Therefore 20 new and unique beers are present for me to whisper to. Some of them sung sweetly, others barked loudly and some yapped away at my ankles. Twenty new rides for me to go on, along with all the old favourites. Disneyland for Beer lovers!!
My favourites this year included the three “Best of Shows”, so the judges and I agreed. My breakfast, That Brewing Co’s AM Stout really showed off some great American hop aroma while dancing on a sweet, malty stage. The guys from Smack!Republic  never disappoint and their Nut Brown Ale was so moreish I’m sure I put a serious dent in the one 50 litre keg they brewed. Needless to say the keg finished early on the second day. Third spot went to new guys Riot Beer Factory with a fantastically balanced Simcoe IPA. This single hop beaut was what I use to punctuate all the other beers, and I always seemed to go back to guys at Riot with a big smile on my face.
Perhaps the biggest highlight though (as is the case every year) was the people. Some people say you’re only as good as the beer you drink. Well, I reckon you’re only as good as the people you drink beer with. What a privilege to be able to share this great occasion with so many legendary beer lovers. See you next year Clarens – I will (and will not!) miss you.
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An Open Letter to the Judge of the Craft Beer Kangaroo Court

Dear Eleanor Robertson

Coming from a nation that’s big on beer myself, I’m always happy to get the thoughts of people from other cultures on a beverage so close to my heart. You’ll forgive me if I forgo anything you have to say about food though; I’m not at the point where I feel the need to kill, cook and eat giant rats just yet.

So, on to your feelings on beer, and craft beer in particular.

As I understand it, aside from price and aftertaste (and I refer you to the appropriate Latin proverb on that score) your two main gripes concerning craft beer extend to disliking the snobbery of beer nerds, and feeling that beer is simply a backdrop to a good pub session and should be treated as such. Beer should never take centre stage – that would be un-Australian. It simply doesn’t fit with what you’re used to, and you don’t like that. “Give me cheap beer, or give me sobriety,” is your rallying cry to the Carlton draught-drinking, Collingwood-supporting hordes. Finally, if craft beer “were contained to its own small bars where [you] never drink, it’d just be another niche subculture, where it belongs.”

Stirring stuff indeed.

I must say though, I’ve heard that last bit before. The apartheid government said the same things to black people in my country back in the day. And you Australians echo the sentiment: people can be as Aboriginal as they want, as long as they do it far away from most other Australians (that said, you’re quite happy to accept living with a hell of a lot of Asian people; apparently China says “Jump!” and Australia dons its kangaroo ears and screams “How high?”).

Because that’s what your opinion amounts to: I don’t like it because it’s not what I’m used to, therefore it must go away. Of course, you’re welcome to that opinion, and I’ll support your right to hold it. I do ask this, however: If you insist on being the harbinger of the craft beer apocalypse, at least realise that your thinking establishes and relies upon a divisive false dichotomy. It’s traditional Australian beer culture or nothing; it’s ‘normal’ beer or craft; it’s us or them; it’s the Coalition of the Willing or The Axis of Evil.

But…sometimes, I can savour a craft ale. And sometimes, I can drink cold, refreshing, mass-produced lager with a big smile on my face. Wow, did I just say that? Is it possible that beer (and life) isn’t so black and white, so cut and dried?

Yes, Eleanor Robertson, it is. And I’d like you to come to Beerhouse and discover this incredible middle ground. I’ll even serve you myself. You’re welcome, because you like beer.

And before I finish, let me address that pressing threat to decent pub conversations everywhere: the Beer Nerd. Or at least I could, but you’re the one using phrases like ‘demanding in flavour’ and ‘overly hoppy’. Perhaps you should let that struggling inner Beer Nerd free. Let her express herself a bit more. Then you could be a force for universal beer love and unity, rather than a writer of patently ridiculous and sadly segregationist polemics.

Yours in (all) beer,

Carl Thomen

Minister of Hopaganda

Beerhouse


No 3 Fransen Street: SAB entering the craft beer market

No 3 Fransen Street: now available on tap at Beerhouse Fourways!

3-Fransen-Street-batch-brewed-beer-logoIt was bound to happen. The mighty SAB is wading into the broad category of “craft beer” and going to be making ales at their No3 Fransen Street Brewery (which was previously used as a test brewery for their very talented brewers to experiment with other styles), and embracing the opportunity to make a variety of beers. There is a market for it, even if it’s tiny compared to that of good old fashioned lager. In light of their lager sales, SAB didn’t really have to get involved in making ales; but they are, and the SA beer scene will be better for it. The more the merrier after all (especially if everyone’s drinking beer). Three types of Weiss are in the pipeline – Krystal, Dunkel and Honey, along with a Cream Ale, Irish Red Ale and an IPA. Add to that three dark beers including a Porter and you have a large, interesting variety of ales that will help grow the beer category in SA immensely.

By describing their beers as speciality, SAB cleverly circumnavigate the murky waters of “craft”. In their own words, “Each batch is brewed to create tastes that are unique, individual and completely lacking in ordinariness”. Not sure what this says about their core range of lagers, but a lack of ordinariness is always a good thing.

SAB is also eager to create a craft image for their brewery. “In a typical suburb, on a regular street, lies no ordinary brewery. A small batch brewery dating back to 1998, a brewery that was designed with speciality beer in mind, way ahead of its time.” Well not entirely true – Lex Mitchell and crew were brewing up English “speciality brews” since 1982. Yes that’s right – lagers come from supersonic brewery cities that churn out millions of hectolitres while ale is made in small batches in a leafy suburb. Well isn’t that romantic! Such notions have captivated South Africa, and thanks to the Beer Spring we have a lot more beer lovers today than we’ve ever had, with a massive variety of styles to choose from.

It’s worth noting that SAB’s No3 Fransen Street isn’t under-cutting other micro-breweries (as I’m sure they could) with their indomitable economies of scale. They politely suggest the beer be sold at R40. Taking into mind how much it costs to buy in, it is decently positioned. Remember you can get micro-brewed pints of beer at Beerhouse from R25 to R60 so they fit comfortably in the middle. This proves the naysayers wrong – brewers and outlets really don’t rip beer lovers off, ok most don’t there is always bad apples. Good beer isn’t cheap to make and like everything in life quality must come at some cost.

“Craft beer” is a highly subjective phrase, and has caused quite a stir in the last few years in South Africa. For one thing, the word craft is emotive; for another, where exactly does one stop when it comes to classifying it? Must a true craft brewery cultivate its own hops and barley, malt the barley, mill it all, and use cultivated yeast and naturally carbonate? Not many breweries can claim to do this in SA, if any. The words macro and micro are more suited to describing beers’ origins. Using “commercial” to describe macro breweries is nonsense. They’re all commercial. Only those home brewers who share a pint amongst friends with no exchange of money are non-commercial.

Moreover, the word “craft” is often confused with variety. The great variety available to us in SA at the moment is due to the revived interest in ale. Lagers and more specifically SAB lagers have dominated the SA beer landscape for over a century. SAB are a very successful business and for good reason. They make refreshing, cold, “hot country” lagers and they are consistent. Recently people have tried to manufacture a false dichotomy: if you drink “craft” then you don’t drink SAB. In fact, to prove that you are a “craft” beer lover, it’s required that you say nasty things about SAB and pull a face like you’ve just smelt a 30 day-old sandwich in your forgotten lunch box. Just because you drink “craft” beer does not mean you have been ordained with a higher purpose and set on a path of beer evangelism to rescue the non- believer Castle Lite drinkers. Each to their own – let them drink what they enjoy and don’t let it offend you! It’s for the individual to explore the wonderful variety in beer and settle on what suits them.

Welcome No3 Fransen Street to the beer revolution. We look forward to tasting your brews. Proof is in the pudding… and we love pudding!

Stay Thirsty, Stay Curious.

No3 Fransen Street