Beer is everywhere right now. You can’t move for magazine pieces on craft beer, homebrewing supply shops are on the increase, bar owners are having to buy extra large sheets of paper in order to fit their ever-expanding beer menus on one page. People are even writingreally awesome books about it. It’s easy to think that we’re at the centre of something new and exciting, that we’re seeing a trend emerge for the first time. Exciting it certainly is, but at least in the case of homebrewing, new it ain’t.
Even if we ignore South Africa’s aeons-old affair with making sorghum beer at home, the country’s homebrewing history goes back a little farther than the launch of homebrewing shops like BeerLab, Beer Guevara and The Beer Keg. In fact there was a homebrewing shop in Cape Town back in 1997.
The first I heard about ‘Homebrew World‘, which was based at Access Park in Kenilworth, was from Boston Breweries‘ founder Chris Barnard, who admits to spending two or three hours there every Saturday morning. If this sounds like you at one of today’s homebrew shops, maybe you’ll be at the helm of a successful microbrewery in a decade – or hopefully less!
The beer world in South Africa is a small one and when hubby recently sold his homebrewing equipment to turn the fermentation room into a nursery (don’t worry – he still brews, just on better equipment in a friend’s ‘man cave’…) we realised the buyer, Guy, was actually the son of Homebrew World’s founder, Jim de la Porte. ”I think his was the first mainstream homebrew shop in South Africa,” says Guy. “He had a website and sold by mail order as well.” In other words he did 16 years ago exactly what’s becoming de rigueur to do today. There was even a homebrewing club inspired by Jim’s store. “Some of his customers started the Frothblowers,” Guy recalls, “which had a 500 strong mailing list in those days.. I often wonder if any of these are now SouthYeasters!” Strangely, even with the huge boom in brewing today, I think the SouthYeasters are still short of a few beer lovers to equal the membership of the Frothblowers (great name, by the way) – so if you’re interested in homebrewing, sign up today!
Did you ever shop at Homebrew World? Were you a member of the Frothblowers? I’d love to hear from you, to hear what kind of equipment and ingredients were available, what kind of beers you brewed, what the club got up to and how homebrewing prices compared with those of today. Leave a comment below or email me to reminisce.
This post was originally published on The Craft Beer Project.