Faults in Beer: Why we need to be honest!

Recently,  bearded Texan and naturalised Cape Townian Mitch Lockhart of the Craft Beer Project unveiled the elephant in the brewery. His #beerhonest article highlighted how ‘bad’ craft beer does immeasurable damage to the industry. In it, he lays out some preventative measures against this dark force, which is an issue that potentially holds us back from being a great beer nation. South African Beerlovers have tended to accept the faults in micro-brewed beer with an “Oh well it’s craft beer and that’s what its suppose to be like” or similar. This is the result of SA being in its infancy when it comes to beer (aside from the impeccably-brewed hot country lagers we have grown up with).

However, we need follow Lockhart and be #beerhonest if we are to progress, and help our Brewers make wonderful tasting and internationally competitive beers. It’s not easy – no one likes to deliver bad news. A lot of brewers do what they do as a passion, and treat their products as their own children; no one wants to tell a parent that their child has a fault. However, if that parent is never properly informed then the child’s chance of rectifying that fault is minimized, and they’ll take that issue into adulthood. Kak children make kak adults, and kak parents themselves. Now that the analogy has run its full course, we should conclude that it’s important that Beerlovers recognize faults in beer and are able to give knowledgeable, constructive feedback to the brewers, so their products of passion can reach full potential. And in turn, help propel South African craft beer to its rightful place at the top of the world’s pile.

The trick here, as in many walks of life, is education. At Beerhouse we are curators of a vast library of beer, and it is important that we educate ourselves on all things beer, and take seriously our job as custodians of beer. We need to be able to pick up on the faults in beer, pass that knowledge onto the Beerlover, and give feedback to Brewers. This is the only way to progress. We educate our Beerhouse Navigators to take Beerlovers safely through Beerland, and give them tools to help expand the common understanding of beer. One of our training sessions focuses on ‘Faults in Beer’ – primary indications, as well as typical causes. Beerhouse Navigators are, after all, the foot soldiers in the Beer Revolution.

We have pulled kegs for various faults and have given constructive feedback where necessary. Thankfully, 99% of Brewers have taken our advice on board, and have come back with a superior products. Result! And cheers to you guys.

People are often quick to point fingers at the Brewers, but it’s not only in the brewery that faults can occur. Improper storage, failing to rotate stock and clean beer lines and many more working pitfalls can turn a well-made beer into one riddled with faults. It’s our duty as curators to make sure we do our utmost to serve the beer as the Brewer intended, and as fresh as possible.

As a way of helping you the Beerlover pick up on common faults in our beloved liquid, we have created a SlideShare that highlights typical issues and how they occur, based on the Beers Judges Certifification Program (BJCP).  Now, we don’t want to destroy your experience, as over-analyzing can have the reverse effect on the primary function of drinking beer, namely, enjoyment. However, we do need you, as fellow revolutionaries, to help make the Craft Beer march as glorious as it can be.

Some ‘faults’ are actually acceptable; when next you have a German-style Weiss beer and notice an aroma of banana (esters) and clove (phenols) (both natural by-products of yeast consuming fermentation sugars) don’t send it back and write an email to the brewer. These faults in other beers are unacceptable, but actually encouraged in this particular style. That said, you don’t want diacetyl (butterscotch) in your India Pale Ale, or band-aid, rotting vegetables or vinegar in any style!

So arm yourself with knowledge and join the revolution! Beer is a wonderful thing, but like most things of beauty it can be fragile. Be #beerhonest and together we can make Beerland a better place.

Beerhouse: “Off Beer” Flavours from Murray Slater

FHM publishes our Beer Whisperer’s Top Craft Beers.

The newest (and final) issue of FHM sees Murray ‘Beer Whisperer’ Slater from the Beerhouse recommends his top ten beers available in SA. It was a tough choice with some quality local beers competing with imported long established brands. It was tough to reflect the massive variety and styles of beer in a choice of ten and could have easily been chosen #99. Oh well that what the Beerhouse is for. Come down and try all 10 of the Beer Whisperer’s recommendations at Beerhouse.



We all know that “craft” beer is on everybody’s lips right now, but once it hits them which is the best?

“Which is the best craft beer out there?” we asked last payday at our local.
So, after sobering up, we roped in the “Beer Whisperer” to narrow our search. Murray Slater from Beerhouse in Cape Town, is a beer judge in the making. He knows a thing or two about the craft beer market in SA.

“I think we’re pretty much right at the start of the expansion and interest in craft beer, though there have been some established craft brewers in SA for a while,” says Slater, as FHM gazes thirstily at the 99 beers on Beerhouse’s wall. “The strength of micro- brewing in SA is based on the strength of our home- brewing culture, guys who have realised that it’s commercially viable.”
Capital, licensing and access to raw ingredients remain issues in the industry but Slater reckons that at least SAB has acted like a “big brother” to the industry.
But enough of the serious stuff, what did our “tasting” of Slater’s top 11 craft beers from Beerhouse reveal…

  • Apollo Stout
    What’s the vibe? A light easy going stout with a lovely roasted malt flavour that is sessionable.
    Whisper it: Great intro to this style of beer. Easy to drink and accessible to those who are scared of the dark side!
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
    What’s the vibe? A strong lager in the style of a German Maibock yielding a deep honey in colour with a malty aroma, rich hearty flavour.
    Whisper it: Just like us, this beer pairs well with pork!
  • Crazy Diamond Belgian IPA
    What’s the vibe? A strong beer at 13.2% to be shared and sipped on like a fine Cognac. Whisper it: A very limited edition offering from two talented experimental brewers. Colabs are very popular in other countries and is a sign of a strong and secure microbrewing industry.
  • Brewdog Libertine Black Pale Ale
    What’s the vibe? The bastard son of an IPA and a dark ale!
    Whisper it: BrewDog have done a lot to make beer sexy again in the UK and indeed the world. They’re anti-establishment, happy to break rules through extreme creativity and thinking outside the box.
  • Westmalle Trappist Dubbel
    What’s the vibe? The Trappist Dubbel is a deep, reddish, moderately strong, malty complexed Belgian ale.
    Whisper it: Westmalle is one of eight Trappist breweries, breweries that operate from monasteries, most of them in Belgium!
  • Gallows Hill IPA
    What’s the vibe? India Pale Ale is a style that originated during The British Empire when beer was transported by ship from the UK to India, via SA. After crossing the equator twice beer would spoil and not last the journey, so they added more hops and upped the alcohol by volume (ABV) – this style is now very popular in the USA and with brave local micro-brewers.
    Whisper it: Gallows Hill is a very new brewery that is not scared to use a varied range of hops.
  • Lindemans Pecheresse
    What’s the vibe? This is a peach lambic, which is a Belgian technique using wild yeast to ferment the beer that gives it a pleasant sour finish. A very difficult and time consuming process that Belgians are the masters of. Whisper it: Most wheat-based ales, like the Pecheresse, emanate from Belgium or Germany.
  • Delirium Tremens Tripel
    What’s the vibe? This strong Belgian Pale Ale is triple fermented and bottle conditioned.
    Whisper it: Belgians are the best at what they do thanks to a long, rich heritage of brewing and very distinct styles. The Tremens Triple is an excellent balance of malt, high alcohol and limited use of hops. A good benchmark for SA brewers.
  • The King’s Blockhouse IPA
    What’s the vibe? This beer is based on a West Coast America style IPA. Typical of the region its fruity aroma and taste is followed by extreme grapefruit bitterness to cleanse the palate.
  • Whisper it: Perhaps SA’s best made and rated beer. A beer before its time in here but its catching on as people’s taste buds change.
  • Lakeside Beerworks American Pale Ale
    What’s the vibe? American pale ales are usually a hoppy and bitter version of a traditional malt forward English pale ale.
    Whisper it: This is a tame version and eases South Africans’ taste buds into this rather bitter domain. Morne and Pierre-Charl’s story is of home brewers becoming successful microbrewers.
  • CBC Krystal Weiss
    What’s the vibe? Pale, spicy and fruity wheat-based. It’s on the sweet side as none to very limited hops are used – a low bitter flavour.
    Whisper it: Unlike most Weiss beers this one has the yeast filtered out and is not cloudy and thus “crystal clear”. A great entry level beer popular with South Africans.

Photography: James Garaghty. Words: Carlo Jonkerman (and Murray Slater!)