Photos by Chloe Boshoff
Why is it such a common and surprising revelation for people in the 21st century to find out that women brew and drink beer?
Ancient Egyptian records indicate that beer was originally brewed and sold almost exclusively by women. It’s the ancient (male) drinkers of the holy beverage that turned it into the caveman-after-hunting-type drink.
In the same way that men are (re) claiming for themselves a spot in the kitchen as some of the world’s greatest chefs, we have to give women credit for their role in the advancement of the craft beer industry, both as consumers and entrepreneurs.
To celebrate woman in brewing, Brewing Technologist, Sophie de Ronde launched the International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (IWCBD) in 2014. Coinciding with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March each year, the IWCBD was designed for camaraderie and to encourage women to brew together socially.
Spearheading the South African instalment of IWCBD, Brewhogs brew master Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela hosted the Johannesburg event while The Brewmistress, Lucy Corne hosted the Cape Town leg of this event.
Brewers and connoisseurs from all over the country gathered for this event which was held at Copperlake Brewing Co. in Joburg and Banana Jam Café in Cape Town.
I was lucky to jump in on the middle of the tasting session at the Joburg leg, and it was such a delight to hear how these ladies talk about beer science, off-flavours and tasting notes - just like any group of bearded craft brewers or drinkers that I’ve seen. These brew masters also brought along some of their own craft beer to showcase and share.
I had initially thought the day was primarily about the gathering, to talk about and drink craft beer but to my surprise, the ladies pulled out a recipe for an Amber Ale they were busy brewing. The brew is appropriately named African Queen and I hope they will keep us in the loop when and how it will be available.
My suggestion is, when you get a hold of it when it’s available, listen to Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s Umqombothi- a classic African tune celebrating the brewing skills of women.
The South African craft beer industry is small compared to Europe and the States, where the challenge for acknowledgement and credit towards women in the beer industry is a hot topic. But we have the opportunity to support and celebrate with ladies like Apiwe from Brewhogs, Lucy Corne with her vast knowledge of beer from around the globe , Imke from Brauhaus am Damm, Nuschka from Blackhorse Brewery, Megan from Clockwork Brewhouse, Ruth from Two Okes Brewery, and our beloved sisters, Melanie and Tania Nieuwoudt, from Cederbrew who are in a legal battle for their brand after some bright peanut trademarked it behind their backs.
I’m sure there are many more women in the craft beer industry in South Africa, and now is their time to be seen, heard, and make their mark. Their passion and skills speak for itself.
So, bearded brewers and beer lovers, here's to those amazing women and the gift they gave the world thousands of years ago. © 2016 CraftNation/Kleurlingbierman