This weekend see one of my very favourite events of the year, going down in Pretoria, known as the Capital Craft Beer Fest. If you love beer, sexy people and good music, then this day festival is for you!!! One of the 19 breweries on show this Saturday at the Voortrekker Monument is CLARENS BREWERY, which will have 5 different beers/ciders to choose from. They sat down with us for a chat, this is what they had to say:
- Please can you give us a quick introduction to CLARENS BREWERY, where you are from and how it all got started?
We’re a husband-and-wife team, brewer and cider maker respectively. Stephan was born and grew up in Kestell 50kms north-east of Clarens and wanted to wave the corporate live in Gauteng goodbye and return to his roots. A trip to the UK in the early 90s exposed us to the fantastic world of craft beer.
A couple of years later we researched cider making whilst waiting for the first crop of apples and cherries from the orchard we planted on our farm just outside of Clarens. We joined the Worthogs Brewing Club so as to learn more about brewing and cider making and our home brewery was born on our farm. The commercial enterprise took off in 2006 on a small 150 litre system in the village of Clarens. We were lucky in that our timing coincided with the start of the explosion of the craft beer industry in SA and our 150l system was soon replaced with a 300 litre system followed by the current 800 litre system. In that period, we moved premises three times, each time because we were bursting at the seams.
Clarens Brewery has certainly seen the craft beer revolution in SA .
- What are the beers you offer at your brewery?
Our beers are true to style. We use only the finest ingredients available with no consideration of their cost. We try and bring out the characteristics of those the ingredients in our brewing process. We produce beers of consistent quality so as to promote the image of craft beer as being one of consistent good quality and sustainability. (The industry cannot afford the public experiencing bad craft beer.)
We have 6 beers permanently in our range: Clarens Blonde (the lightest of our ales), Clarens English Ale (a malty Bitter with a caramel character), our award winning Clarens Red (an American Amber Ale characterised by distinct litchi hop aroma and taste), Clarens Stout (a creamy Stout with a coffee taste), Clarens Weiss ( a classic Weiss with a spice character) and Clarens IPA – winner for best of show at SA On Tap 2 yrs in a row – (an Indian Pale Ale with a serious hop character). Then we have the range of Red Stone fruit ciders of which the Cherry and Pineapple are most popular.
- What have been some of the major challenges for your brewery over the years?
We’ve been lucky that we were established when the craft revolution started, so the market was ready for us. Licensing issues were a bane when we started out. And constantly expanding equipment as the demand grows is an ongoing challenge.
- Micro Breweries and locally made beer is fast becoming in demand and highly attractive. How have you seen the change in mindset of local South Africans over the years?
Without a doubt! Where we had people come into our brewpub in 2007 and ask for a Castle, we now have people coming in and asking whether we have an IPA in our range!
- You will be at the CAPITAL CRAFT FEST 2014 in Pretoria, are you guys excited for this?
Capital Craft is one of our favourite festivals and we can’t wait! We love the energy and vibe. Pretoria has some cool people!
- Lets make a prediction… which of your beers would be the best seller on the day?
Beer-wise our Clarens Red is very popular but our Red Stone Cherry Cider always sells out early.
- Thanks you for your time….