Earlier this month I had an idea (well actually, like many of my blog posts and articles, it was hubby that had the idea, but you don’t need to know that…). The idea was to honour some of the people that are going above and beyond to further the craft beer industry – theAlestars of the South African beer scene, if you will. It’s not meant to be a contest with an overall winner, just a way of saying – thanks, we appreciate what you’re doing. The reponse was quite huge, with everyone from homebrewers to large-scale event organisers being nominated. Some got the odd vote or two, others provoked a deluge of replies. So here they are, in loose categories.
There were two standouts in this category – Natalie Meyer who won votes thanks to her hard work in putting together the annualClarens Craft Beer Festival and Martin Tucker of CTFoB fame, who according to one voter “goes the extra mile for beer and always has time for a cold one.” They went on to mention his infectious enthusiasm for barley, hops and water and never-ending stamina when it comes to beer fests, finishing off by sharing that Martin’s only downfall is “a propensity for chafing”. TMI voters, TMI.
This was, unsurprisingly, the most popular category and included everyone from newbies to veterans, inlcuding the guys from Dog & Fig Brewery, Ruaan van den Berg of Chameleon Brewhouse, Eric ven Heerden of Triggerfish (“always goes the extra mile in innovation and creation”), JC Steyn of Devil’s Peak (“as adventurous and experimental as a teenager on new years eve…with much better outcomes”), Stuart Thompson of Loxton Lager and Stephan Meyer of Clarens Brewery who has been responsible for training and encouraging a number of other brewers.
Extra special mentions go to some of the longer established brewers, including Steve Gilroy, who “brought beer to life” for one voter, Ross McCulloch and Megan MacCallum from Jack Black (“instrumental in getting craft accepted”), Lex Mitchell and Chris Barnard (“very brave to have done what they did when they did it”) and a man who one voter considered to be so instantly recognisable that he required no preamble nor explanation, who could be voted for with one single word: “Wolfgang“.
Above all though it was Moritz Kallmeyer whose name kept finding its way into my inbox. The Drayman’s brewmaster was praised for being a driving force, a mentor, the founding member of Wort Hog Brewers and a man “responsible for the brewing education of a number of craft brewers who is always happy to help any home brewers with their problems”.
As well as Brett Hutton, who goes by the name ‘Beatnik Brewers’, a few very well known faces in the homebrewing scene were nominated – Sean Watts of the Wort Hog Brewers was lauded for going above and beyond in organising events and competitions, generally with no personal gain (other than knowing he’d helped the beer cause I suppose), while in the Cape, both Shawn Duthie andAnalize ter Morshuizen were mentioned for their work to build the SouthYeasters into the club it is today.
In Jo’burg, Jason Cederwall was thanked for his hard work, while someone wanted to say thanks to “the person that brought Brewdog to South Africa” (Brad Moore – that’s you!). Mostly though, people were keen to praise “the good folks at League of Beers” for their “excellent customer service and real passion for beer” with a few people naming Rob Heyns in particular, not only for making beer accessible wherever you are in the country, but also for being “an all round nice guy”.
Greg Casey of Banana Jam Cafe was cited as “always having a new selection of beer” and thanked for importing small batches of previously unavailable beers as well as for simply being “so enthusiastic”, while Sean Roberts of Unity Bar was praised by drinkers in Durbs.
AND THE REST
Darren Tuck, creator of MyBeerCraft app, received a nod, and I even got a vote myself (thanks mum). Dyllan and Lliam Roach of The Tap Room Brew Supplies/Aces Brew Worx clearly have a loyal following. They were praised for “getting people to see the light – and the dark depending on what you are drinking – when it comes to craft beer”, for working tirelessly over the years and with the added bonus that they “actually have some good banter sometimes” – is there a lack of banter in the SA beer scene? Surely not.
But in the end I think this email from Alan Jordan of the Wort Hogs really sums it up:
“I don’t think we can name only a handful of “Alestars”. There are too many. I think anyone who has had some part to play in drinking craft beer, asking for it at liquor stores and restaurants and writing about it. The courage of the craft brewers that quit their day jobs to brew something unique. The distributors who sell it. The home brewers…it’s an avalanche that has been caused by many tremors and many people. When you brew or drink a craft beer, you tell someone about it and the avalanche begins. Well done to everyone who chooses the delights of craft beer over the mediocrity of the mass-produced plonk. Well done to you all!”
I’m raising my virtual glass as you read. Cheers to all of you and anyone we’ve forgotten. You’re quite awesome.
Did the voters forget anyone? Do you have anything to add? Tell us in the comments section below!
This post first appeared on The Craft Beer Project.