Category Archives: Collaborations

Craft Beer is all about creativity and we are stretching our creative muscles with some special edition brews that we are creating in conjunction with our brewer pals.

ciderleague-winners

Our first #Ciderleague competition results

Our first #Ciderleague kicked off well with a lot of interest in the new movement. Considering the crisp and refreshing flavours that only cider provides, especially in the summer heat, it was no wonder that the #tastingleague titans joined in on the revolution.

It was especially awesome to see how cider has allowed non-beer drinkers (dare I say it) to be apart of the tasting experience.

However, #tastingleague heavyweight Wayne Reid (Craftbeer Research) was doing a absolutely stellar job at starting the #ciderleague conversation.

@leagueofbeers #Ciderleague 6% abv apple cider. This is how cider grows

on trees.

A photo posted by ⚔Wayne

Reid⚔ (@waynedreid) on

PST

We had a few new faces though – welcome Troye May:

Cheers to Shae Leigh who was willing to share her Everson’s apple cider, that really must be true love.

You know it’s love when you’re willing to share, especially

when it’s @eversonscider 🍻🍏 Fresh with an apple bite, this cider is exactly what I’m looking for in summer. #ciderleague #leagueofbeers #eversonscider #craftbeer #craftcider #applecider #fruit #love #weekend #summer #goodtimes#capetown #stellies #elginmagic

A photo posted by Shae

Leigh (@shaeleigh911) on

PST

#CiderLeague Competition Winners

Wayne Reid came out tops on both twitter and Instagram with a considerable margin to spare. Very strong start to the league. However, on Instagram there was a tight battle for second spot with Shae Leigh and Crafty Nectar having just 10 points separating them. Well done Wayne, R1000 in yuppiechef vouchers coming your way.

Here are your leaderboards for #CiderLeague

Instagram total likes

1. waynedreid 587
2. shaeleigh911 257
3. craftynectar 247
4. beerclubsa 246
5. thatlastdrop 91
6. beercountrysa 81
7. andreafedder 26
8. bigd691 16
9. tbone_troye 16
10. etiennefouriedrums 12
11. eviecm 5
12. squashed_tomato 4

Twitter total favourites and retweets

1. wayne_cpt 131
2. BeerclubSA 71
3. DaveStarley 60
4. kleurlingbier 25
5. chantskerr 19
6. shaeleigh911 10
7. LucyCorne 5
8. BeerCountrySA 4
9. IvorSwartz 3
10. _jebspringfield 2
11. hencakes 2
12. CeeceesTravel 1
13. oconnor_mel 1
14. eviecm 1

Thanks everyone for sharing in the #ciderleague fun and for making sure that good craft is celebrated.

 

#BeMyDarling and win big this Valentine's Day

#BeMyDarling and win big this Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day we’re giving away our two biggest loves: beer and food. See competition details and win big.

be-my-darling-competition2

How to win

1. Complete the poem: Roses are red, violets are blue…..
2. Post your poem on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Don’t forget to include the handles @LeagueofBeers and #BeMyDarling
4. Most NB – don’t forget to tag your darling (your sweetheart)!

What you win

1st Prize – fully loaded Valentine’s Day Hamper (value R1500) includes

2nd prize – the lite Valentine’s Day Hamper (value R900)

Terms and conditions

1. The 1st Prize draw is completely subjective . The most creative, funny, post picked by our team wins.
2. The 2nd Prize draw is completely random. Luck of the draw wins.
3. Prize winners will be drawn on the 8th of February.
4. Winners will be announced on social media.

May the best poet eat and be merry.

BrewDog

A no holds barred catch-up with Brewdog

What do you do when you find yourself bored and uninspired every time you order a beer at your local? You say f*#k it and make your own hardcore craft beers, that’s what! Then you start selling them out of a van at markets with a not-so-secret ambition to take over the world.

Brewdog-beer-is-art

What started in 2007 as two guys and a dog, has fermented into UK’s fastest growing food and drink company in 2012. Today there are 42 Brewdog Bars worldwide, including a real-fake one in China (no surprise there). Last year they brewed over 90 000 HL of epic, delicious no-fear beer. That’s a sh*t-ton of beer.

BrewDog

We had a few questions for the IPA Punks who have actually seen a Tactical Nuclear Penguin (double cask aged uber-imperial stout, 32% ABV) and still have plans to Sink the Bismarck (quad IPA, 41% ABV).

If Punk IPA were a Star Wars character?

Luke Skywalker. Saved the Universe.

brewdog-punk-ipa

What’s on the boom-box when brewing?

Radiohead.

One beer that changed your life?

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, every time. But as for one single beer, it was an early version of Paradox that we made at home and gave to Michael Jackson (the beer journalist) in 2006. He told us to quit our jobs and start making beer. So we did.

Your beer philosophy in a sentence?

Our mission is to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are.

craft-beer-for-the-people

Weirdest thing you’ve done while brewing?

We once brewed a beer at the bottom of the North Sea, using sea salt and rum! It was awesome, and we named it Sunk Punk. Also, turning the question inside out somewhat, we once put a beer in taxidermy stoats and squirrels – it was the world’s strongest, most expensive beer, called The End of History.

Have you guys ever played in a punk band?

Not yet…

Does food taste better if you cook naked?

Not if there is an open flame…

One ingredient you would love to brew with?

We are busy developing our own hops with a hop farmer in the Yakima Valley. Watch this space…

Any advice for the home brewers out there?

Clean. Did I say clean? I’m sorry, I meant to say clean. Clean.

love-hops-and-live-the-dream-brewdog

Would you guys ever consider moving to hop-central California?

Scottish people don’t tan well, just saying. We like clouds, cynicism and whisky.

Death row meal, and what beer do you pair it with?

It would depend on the meal, but we’re gonna go with Jack Hammer.

Join the revolution!

Get your fix of BrewDog Beers in our Monthly Mixed Case or through a BrewDog beers case.

sean-Standeaven-pouring-beers

Beer Country go on a beer-soaked sojourn to the family run Standeaven Brewery

It’s early. Really early, and the cattle-like crowd are finding seats and stowing bags. Moo. Red eyes be damned as we leave Cape Town on route to Standeaven Brewery in KZN. As I buckle into my tiny stable, the words of gonzo legend, Hunter S. Thompson, pop into my head, “Good people drink good beer.” This leaves me wondering whether 7am is too early for a cold one, and considering our national carrier’s selection of beer, whether I am actually a good person. We’ve already been up for over three hours, so technically it’s around 9am. Beer please, with a coffee on the side.

sean-Standeaven-pouring-beers

Fast forward two hours and one dry beef roll later and we’re piling into the Standeaven bus at King Shaka airport. We meet Mr Standeaven senior, who has a farmer’s handshake and a mischief detector honed by years of keeping his son in check. Oh look, there’s a bucket full of beer, don’t mind if I do.

Upon arrival at the family farm the name, Hazyview, suddenly makes sense. The only hill we can see in the Valley of 1000 Hills is the one we’re standing on. We head down to meet up with  Shaun Standeaven, the head brewer and driving force behind Standeaven Brewery. He’s already an hour into a brew and we crack another beer as he gives us the tour. After another beer or two we meet Mrs Standeaven and the pack of family dogs. It’s about then that I start to rethink that little gem from earlier; apparently “Good people brew good beer.”

sean-standeaven

BC: So the brewery is in the old mushroom tunnels. We can definitely feel the magic.

SS: Well, we do like to think there is magic in these walls and in our beers!

BC: Where did your love of beer come from?

SS: It started when I was working on cruise ships and getting to experience all the different global beer cultures. We didn’t have anything close to that here, and so I headed back home for family and, for beer. I also love cooking, but can’t stand being in the kitchen while everyone else is out having fun. Serious FOMO. I decided to rather brew the beer. It’s cooking in a bottle!

With that little pearl of Standeaven wisdom firmly in the tank, we herded the dogs and headed back to the Standeaven farmhouse. It only takes Shaun about ten seconds to get the fire going, and after blinking again, we each have an African Pale Ale in hand. Perfect.

BC: So what’s the best beer you haven’t brewed yet?

SS: Well, I am a massive fan of Amber Ales, so watch this space…

BC: Standeaven Amber. Great name, hopefully a great beer!

SS: Yeah, family is massive for us, and it takes a lot to put your family name onto a bottle. Every beer we make represents us as a family, and that is a little extra motivation to make sure each one that leaves the brewery is perfect. For us, it is about consistency, passion, commitment and never selling out. This brewery is our family legacy, built by us, on our own little piece of paradise.

BC: Speaking of paradise and our current theme of getting out there to discover beer, you’ve just been to Oktoberfest!

SS: Well, it was pretty much heaven. I was surrounded by all these amazing waitresses…my bad, I mean beers! It was tough to just slow down and make choices.

BC: Make good choices, Shaun!

SS: Well it was kinda hard to taste everything when you’re drinking it a litre at a time! That said, the old world festival beer culture was new for me and it was just incredible.

Well, now you’re just trying to make us jealous!

Standeaven-beers-lifestyle

Just as we toss some extra wood on the fire and crack open a few Best Black Gold dark lagers, Mrs Standeaven walks in with a rustic board of locally produced charcuterie and a packet full of what smells like a mix of pure magic and dynamite! It’s that do-it-in-Durbs-or-die classic, the bunny chow. The next fifteen minutes consisted of dig-in, curry-soaked reverent silence…NOM!

BC: We’re guessing that a bunny chow is your death row meal?

SS: Well, they are amazing, but as my last meal I’m going with three courses. Hot peri-peri chicken livers, a slow roasted beer-braised pork belly and a rich crème brûlée. If I’m on my way out, I wanna go out pregnant with a food baby!

BC: Nice! What beer are you having with it, and what tunes are playing?

SS: That’s tough, but I would have to go with my Lager-X. It just goes so well with everything. Mumford & Sons, Little Lion Man is playing which suits the beer perfectly. I went against the grain (wink), and brewed a big full-bodied lager using only local ingredients, exactly the way I wanted to. It’s awesome.

BC: We like brave beers! So, any advice for the guys getting into the craft business?

SS: Trust in what you know, but at the same time also remember that you don’t know everything. Be open, believe in what you want to achieve, and no matter what people say, have your vision and stick to it.

BC: Last question, any person you would love to chill and share a beer with?

SS: Ernest Hemingway! What a legend, and least we know it would be way more than one beer.

True story!

Standeaven-brewery-beer

And with that it’s more wood on the fire, more conversation, more laughter, more hospitality, more family, more dogs, more stories and yes, most definitely, more epic, proudly South African craft beer. Such good times.

Get your hands on some Standeaven beers to appreciate this family run KZN brewery.

The Standeaven Brewery beers also feature in this month’s Mixed Case, so if you enjoy getting great family made beers, delivered straight to your door with some easy arm chair reading and tasting notes, sign up to our monthly club and you’ll be ahead of the curve on epic craft beer.

Tasting-video-episode-16

Watch and learn: #TastingLeague craft beer tasting videos

Every month we at the League go on the hunt for brews worthy of the Monthly Mixed Case. In each of these specially curated cases we bring you interesting beers, their unique stories as well as the brewers behind the craft. Since the boys at Beer Country know all about living for your passion we send them off with a case to go enjoy a tasting experience of the month’s brews, often with guest beer appreciators or the focus brewers themselves, while chatting about the tasting profiles of each beer.

Here is your rabbit hole into joining the TastingLeague. Grab a Mixed Case and drink along to our craft beer tasting videos.

Tasting-league-header

To be a part of our #TastingLeague (and win a R1000 League Voucher) check out the Tasting League rules here and get tasting.

Tasting League Episode 16

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Standeaven African Pale Ale | Devil’s Peak Lager | Innis & Gunn Bourban Dark Ale | Standeaven Best Black Gold | La Trappe Puur | La Trappe Witte Trappist

Tasting League Episode 15

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Smack! Republic Hillbrow Honey Ale| Smack! Republic Bree Street Belle Golden Ale | Inni & Gunn White Oak Wheat Beer| Stickman Foreman IPA | Smack! Republic Newtown Nemesis Stout

Tasting League Episode 14

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
PistonHead Kustom Lager | Jack Black’s Lager | Woodstock Happy Pills | Brasserie de Silly Double Engien Blonde | Brasserie de Silly La Divine | Caldera Ashland Amber | AND UNION Friday IPA

Tasting League Episode 13

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Urthel Samaranth | Urthel Hop-it | Urthel Saisonnaire  Mainstream APA| Brasserie de Silly Double Enghien | Brasserie de Silly Abbaye de Forest | Caldera Hopportunity Knocks

Tasting League Episode 12

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Fraser’s Folly Pale Ale | Oakham Inferno | Fraser’s Folly Old Raj | Duvel 2015 Triple Hop | Fraser’s Folly Stout | De Garve Pickled Horse Porter

Tasting League Episode 11

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Red Sky Amber Ale | Red Sky Pale Ale | Red Sky Rauch Bier | Oakham Citra | Innis&Gunn Toasted Oak | Cisco Winter Shredder

Tasting League Episode 10

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Riot Golden Ale | Von B Light Mild Ale | Harviestoun Broken Dial | Riot IPA | Mainstream Altbier | Innis&Gunn Rum Finish

Tasting League Episode 9

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Gulden Draak | Devil’s Peak First Light | Mainstream African Vibe | Devil’s Peak Silver Tree | Striped Horse Pilsner | Devil’s Peak Black IPA

 

Tasting League Episode 8

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Johnny Gold Weiss Beer | Wingman’s Weiss | Wale Tale Ale | Peak Organic Hop Blanc | 33 Degrees South IPA

Tasting League Episode 7

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Wild Beast Blonde Ale | Wild Beast Amber Ale

Tasting League Episode 6

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Leopold 7 Belgian | Cisco Pumple Drumpkin | Darling Brew Christmas Ale | Wild Beast Spicy Beast of Christmas | Brew Dog Santa Paws | Bornem Dubble | Big City Brewing IPA

Tasting League Episode 5

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Savage Unlager | Savage Weiss Beer | Savage Pale Ale | Savage Amber Ale | Savage IPA

Tasting League Episode 4

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Garagista Pale Ale

Tasting League Episode 3

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
CBC Lager | CBC Pilsner | CBC  Amber Weiss | CBC Crystal Weiss | CBC Oktoberfest | CBC Mandarina IPA | CBC Imperial IPA

Tasting League Episode 2

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Citizen Alliance | Citizen Diplomat | Citizen Saboteur IPA

Tasting League Episode 1

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Cooper’s Pale Ale | Apollo blonde ale | Bruheart No.2 | &Union StephWeiss | Red Sky Pinotale | Basset Breweries PenningtonPride Porter

Jason Lilley's beer marinated wing rib on the bone with beer bread and boozy onions

Jason Lilley’s beer marinated wing ribs on the bone with beer bread and boozy onions

Whether you know him as Jason Lilley, the baker on Bree Street or Captain Bread – you can be sure he knows what to do with a good AND UNION Friday IPA. Here’s Jason’s recipe forbeer marinated wing ribs on the bone with his brilliant take on beer bread and some boozy onions. Hello, Friday.

Wing-Rib-Jason-lilley

“For this I used a 5 week aged 3.6 kg wing rib on the bone from FrankieFenner Meat Merchants.”

Ingredients:

For the beer marinade

250 ml AND UNION Friday IPA (drink the rest)
80 ml lime juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, discard stalks
125 ml olive oil
5 ml freshly ground white pepper

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together.
2. Place the slab of meat in a large ziplock bag. Add marinade. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Don’t marinade for too long as the meat will become a visually unpleasant greyish colour.
3. I used my Big Green Egg to cook this guy. I got the temp up to 300C, if you’re braaing on a half drum or Weber make sure your coals are super hot.
4. Season both sides with salt and white pepper, then sear the meat for about 5 minutes on both sides.
5. If cooking on the Egg, add the convector for indirect cooking and drop the temp to 200C grill temp. If braaing, spread out the coals a bit to bring down the temp. Cook for a further 15 minutes. Keep the dome closed. You want it to be medium rare.
6. Then take the wing rib off the heat and rest for 30 minutes.

Recipe for my beer bread

This is a very easy recipe!

Ingredients

3 cups stone gound white bread flour
12 g fresh yeast
1 tsp brown sugar
1 bottle AND UNION Friday IPA (room temp)
1 tsp salt

Method

1. Mix the yeast, sugar and half the beer in a small bowl and leave for 5 minutes. It should start to bubble.
2. In a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Create a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.
3. With your fingers, pull the flour in towards the centre and gently mix adding the rest of the beer.
4. Continue to mix until fully combined, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball (about 2 minutes).
5. Place in a bowl, wrap and allow to prove for about 1 hour.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide and shape into 6 equal sized balls.
7. Place on a floured tray and allow to prove, covered, for about an hour.
8. I cook these suckers on the Big Green Egg, using the convector and the pizza stone. Get the grill temp to about 240C.
9. Heavily flour the rolls and score them straight down the middle.
10. Bake them directly on the stone for about 15 minutes.

Recipe for boozy onions

3 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 bottle AND UNION Friday IPA
2 bay leaves
25 g brown sugar
100 g butter

Method:

1. In a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions, beer, bay leaves and sugar.
2. Cook down for about 45 minutes. Add the butter to finish off.

To assemble your meal, cut the roll in half. Cut 5mm thick slices from the wing rib. Place on the roll and chuck a healthy portion of boozy onions on top. Enjoy with another Friday IPA.

Wing-rib-with-boozy-onions

If you’re getting the World AND UNIONmixed case, like any good rugby and braai lover should, you won’t run out anytime soon.

Thanks to Jason Lilley for sharing this kicker of a recipe and images

TastingLeague winners for August

TastingLeague winners for August

The new #TastingLeague was launched in August with YOU deciding on the best posts. We have 2 new champions for August in both Twitter and Instagram, the winners and leader boards are here below, so no further adieu go find out if you won.

August-tasting-league-winners

Twitter TastingLeague winner

The king, Henri Le Roux has been dethroned by the new Twitter #TastingLeague Champ, Nic Steffen! Congrats Nic, your R1000 voucher is on its way to you as we speak!

Henri, Donald, Thandi, Chants and Geoffrey, keep going, you too could be the next Nic Steffen! Chants, you had the best single post, so with a little bit of extra effort this spot could be yours in September.

Instagram TastingLeaguewinner

We have new front runner on this platform: Connor Wade, with one post, he completely owned the August #TastingLeague and taught us all a few lessons in good angles and the right audience.

Henri and Matt John combined consistency with some creative shots. Nic Steffen was all effort and no likes. Dont worry Nic we like you and apparently Twitter does too. And welcome to Jono Dicks with a stellar 1 like start!

Leaderboards based on likes, favourites and retweets:

Twitter

1. Nic Steffen – 38
2. Henri le Roux @Killerduff – 29
3. Donald Evans @Donaldevans11 – 19
4. Craft Geek @Ironyandgum -19 (Actually tied, just formatted wrong)
5. Chantelle Kerr @Chantskerr – 12
6. Geoffrey Chisnall @GeoffChisnall – 8
7. Mathew Atkins – 7
8. Curtis – 4
9. Matthew John – 2
10. Ivor Swartz – 2
11. Josh McMillam – 2
12. Grant York -1
13. Smokie_dj @smokieville – 1

Instagram
1. connor.wade – 234
2. Henri le Roux @Killerduff – 169
3. Matthew John @Mattjohnbass – 122
4. Geoffrey Chisnall @GeoffChisnall – 68
5. Nic Steffen – 33
6. Shaeleight911 – 21
7. Capetown_craftbeer – 23
8. Rufinapadgette – 22
9. Albert Cornelissen compl33t – 7
10. Ktimps – 4
11. Jonodicks – 1

Thanks to all the #TastingLeagueers! As you are now aware from time to time we will send you cool things just for participating in the #TastingLeague so keep up the good work. You are leading the Craft Beer revolution.

Jason-Lily

A crafty Q&A with Jason Lilley – the baker on Bree Street

To many Jason Lilley, owner of Jason Bakery is a bread man through and through. But what you might not know is that he also holds a soft spot in his heart for craft. You could say, bread and beer are his bread and butter actually. We touched base to get into the mind of the baker on Bree Street.

Jason Lilley of Jason Bakery

A quick summary on your relationship with AND UNION for those who don’t yet know your crafty origins.

Rui and I have been secretly seeing each other for years now. HAHA just kidding. He wishes. I have always loved AND UNION beers. They are made with the same ethos in mind that I put into my food and still are the only craft beers in South Africa that I enjoy drinking. At Jason Bakery we only use AND UNION beers to cook with. We do a variety of beer braised dishes and our Dark Lager Chocolate Cake is a panty dropper. I ended up purchasing the bar from Rui last year and have since sold it on.

Best beer you’ve had abroad?

The best beer so far has to be from a micro brewery in Quebec Canada called Le Trou Du Diable. They make a honey beer that is off the charts and the Farmers Strong IPA is rad.

If you could craft a beer in honour of your motorbike, what would it be?

It would definitely be along the lines of a 10% Belgium triple amber ale. It’s wicked, rich and strong and will kick your ass when you least expect it!

If you had to give up either bread or beer which would it be?

What a question bread of course. Luckily beer is considered liquid bread, so Im sure Ill be fine.

You’re at a craft tasting and loadshedding kicks in. Which beer could you easily identify in the dark?

Definitely the AND UNION Touro.

Last one. You have to craft a unique doughssant combo in honour of our president, JZ. What is it?

Probably something with chilli and chocolate Id call it The Firepool.

Thanks for the chat Jason, and for keeping Cape Town in steady supply of awesome doughssants.

Do yourself a solid and head over to Jason Bakery one Saturday morning for some great breakfast pizzas, doughssants and AND UNIONto wash it all down.

You can have beer for breakfast, right?

TastingLeague crib notes: Caldera - Hopportunity Knocks

TastingLeague crib notes: Caldera Hopportunity Knocks IPA

Caldera is one of those breweries that’s hard to ignore. Partly because they make such epic beers, but mostly because staring at the can is like a hallucinogenic experience… hops with arms everywhere! Take a swan dive into the Caldera Hopportunity Knocks IPA cauldron and get lost in the hoppy haze.

TastingLeague crib notes: Caldera - Hopportunity Knocks

The tasting experience:

Appearance: Hazy amber gold with a dense fluffy head.
Aroma: Citrus and grapefruit flavours with a punch of sweet caramel malt.
Flavour & finish: The Hopportunity Knocks IPA has a great balance of malt and fruit. It’s a meaty, mouth-filling IPA with big flavour that finishes very bitter but with a lingering sweetness.

Quick fire facts:

  • Caldera was the first craft brewery on USA’s West Coast to brew and can its own beer.
  • Cans eliminate light, have less oxidation, are lighter for transport and chill quicker.
  • Hopportunity is single hopped with Centennial and sits at over 100 IBUs.

 Pairing playlist:

Guns n Roses – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door 

Food pairing:

We suggest pairing it with sticky ribs off the braai.

Overall thoughts:

South Africans tend to have a negative impression about beer in cans, but one sip of this IPA will change that. The Hopportunity Knocks is a seriously big IPA and even though it’s sitting at over 100 IBUs, it’s remarkably balanced. It goes down as smooth as silk and we had to read the can to believe it was 6.8%.

Join our TastingLeague on Twitter or Instagram by sharing your tasting notes with us and you can win R1000 in beer. Check out the TastingLeague rules and get tasting.

Get your fix of Caldera Hopportunity Knocks IPA here.

Meet Hildegard van Ostaden, the brewmistress behind Urthel

Meet Hildegard van Ostaden, the brewmistress behind Urthel

We don’t get to feature female brewers often, purely because they are still far and few between but for August, with Woman’s Day on the 9th, things just seemed to line up so nicely. So, if you’re into your Belgian beers and keen to learn of a better way to say ‘cheers’ then our interview with Hildegard van Ostaden, the brewmistress behind Urthel beers is a worthy read.

Meet Hildegard van Ostaden, the brewmistress behind Urthel

BC: So Hildegard, you have been brewing since 2000. Something must have switched you onto beer. What’s your very first beer memory?

H: Since I was born in Belgium, my first encounter with beer must have been very early, because in Belgium beer is everywhere. My grandmother, Oma, was a great cook and she would always have a bottle of “table beer” on her table. I also remember my grandfather enjoying his trappist beer on Sundays, which is a great way to celebrate the weekend.

BC: Sounds good to us! We have heard that, just like Oma, you are a great cook. If you were stuck on a desert island, what would your last meal be, and what beer would you pair it with?

H: Whooo, let us hope that will never happen! But if it did, I think I would go for a Hereford Ribeye medium rare with my favorite Urthel Saisonniere.

BC: All this food talk is making us hungry! Tell us a bit about the Erthel gnomes, we hear they drink beer all day long?

H: My husband, Bas wrote a story about little people, the Erthels, living in a forest, enjoying life with a glass of Urthel. They think their hair will grow back by drinking Urthel. I believe the story was written out of frustration for Bas.

(Greg quickly takes a few extra sips)

BC: So you’re married, that may break a few hearts back in South Africa! The Erthel’s are some handsome guys. If you had to go on a date with one of them, which would it be: Saisonniere, Samaranth, or Hop-It?

H: I would certainly go for Saisonniere. Tasteful, nicely bittered and not too strong. He would be a perfectly-balanced guy!

BC: We hear they say “Paché” a lot, what does that mean?

H: The Erthels say Paché when they raise a glass of Urthel, meaning ‘I wish you all the luck, love, wealth, good health of the world.’ It means so much more than ‘Cheers’.

BC: We reckon that the beer is a true reflection of the brewer, and just like you, your beers are elegant, unique and still very Belgian. What was the inspiration behind them?

H: Thanks! I like a blend of tradition and new inspirations. I travelled a lot to the US and in the very early days, maybe 15 years ago, long before the “hype”, I already fell in love with IPAs. That’s how the Hop-It was born. A traditional Belgian Triple but with a lot of European hops (the IPA way). I love tasting new things and being inspired by that. If you use that and mix that with the knowledge you’ve built, it’s a winning combination.

BC: Wise words! If you could share a beer with anyone (dead or alive), who would that be and why?

H: Anyone who makes me smile.

BC: If you had to pair one of your beers with a song, what would it be?

H: That’s a tough one, but for me it’s Saisonniere with Suicide Blonde – INXS.

BC: Are there any beers you love that aren’t Belgian?

H: Beers that I would really like to enjoy again are beers from Stone Brewery, California. I like the Arrogant Bastard very much.

BC: Home-brew culture is really growing in South Africa. What are your top three tips for brewing awesome beer?

H: First of all, don’t over-complicate things. Sometimes I taste homebrews which aren’t that good because the brewer used too many ingredients and didn’t focus. Second, brewing is not hocus-pocus. You need to respect the art and the science. Study, learn, then apply that knowledge. Last but not least, enjoy it! It’s not a competition. It’s all about the journey…

BC: If you could brew with any one ingredient on the planet, what would that be and why?

H: I have done a lot of crazy brews, as well as some for my own restaurant De Hoppeschuur. But for me the most important ingredient to work with is the yeast. Yeast is the key to making great beer.

BC: Got it! What’s the weirdest beer you have ever brewed?

H: I brew beers for 3 star Michelin chef Sergio Herman. He asked me to brew a beer with kurkuma (turmeric) to serve with one of his master dishes. That was a strange combination at first sight, but the beer was awesome.

BC: No doubt! We also love cooking with beer. What is your favorite beer to cook with?

H: I use all three of the Urthel beers in my restaurant. It all depends on the dish you make. But one of my all time favorites is the chocolate mousse with Urthel Samaranth.

BC: So, as the featured brewer for this month’s Mixed Case, what would you like South Africans to get out of your beers?

H: A very good time!

BC: We are sure they will! Thanks for the chat… Paché!