Editorial Comment

Cover Story October

With October being synonymous with beer, primarily due to the Oktoberfest, which is celebrated not just in Munich, Germany but worldwide, we thought it appropriate to dedicate this edition to the world’s favourite tipple (after water and tea).

Beer is a uniquely sociable beverage and has been at the heart of social occasions and celebrations for millennia. Indeed it is cited by historians, archaeologists and anthropologists alike as being the catalyst of civilisation as we know it. Dating back to between 7 000 and 10 000 years ago, the move from nomadic tribesmen to settled pastoralists is said to have been the result of the growing of barley to brew for beer.

Beer and South Africa share a similar story – from the traditional roots of Umqombothi to the shebeen queens and the beer halls, from the first breweries in the Cape to the gold rush on the Witwatersrand, from the struggle days and the sports bans to the sponsorships of all three of South Africa’s national teams, from Charles Glass to SABMiller’s stellar rise to the second largest brewer in the world – beer in general and South African Breweries (SAB) specifically (with 90% of beer share) is an intrinsic part of the South African story. And it is a significant contributor to the South African economy.

Beer is enjoyed by millions around the world and is the natural and responsible choice of the moderate drinker. From its early beginnings as a drink used in spiritual and religious ceremonies, beer has been at our side through the ages. Today beer is seeing a revival, becoming the connoisseur’s drink as beer’s ideal compatibility with food makes it the perfect pairing partner. The recent celebrity status of chefs and the elevation of the culinary arts have seen an exploration of tastes and flavours and what was once the working man’s drink, is now on trend and flying out the fridges.

SAB is most supportive of the craft beer movement and has been instrumental in the growth of this industry through its supply of raw materials and expertise to the microbreweries. SAB were the first major sponsor of most of the initial craft beer festivals around the country that propelled the craft movement into the mainstream. SAB facilitated and funded the establishment of the Craft Beer Association and sponsor the premier Craft Brewers Championship, which is undertaken by SAB’s heritage site, The World of Beer.

SAB believe that craft beer provides an ‘interest’ factor to beer that mainstream beer by definition can never do, and pulling more people into beer is good for all players in the beer industry.

“We also naturally have a soft spot for craft brewers. Our own story began exactly the same way.” says Robyn Chalmers, SAB Head: Media and Communications.

Over the past few years, SAB has produced a small number of speciality beers at craft festivals. These speciality beers have been brewed by Fransen Street Brewery, SAB’s microbrewery that was first opened in 1999. The beers have been developed to the highest quality by their expert brewmasters, and have been welcomed by both consumers and retailers who have been asking for them on a more regular basis.

With more than 15 years of experience in brewing speciality beers, SAB is bringing these recipes to an exclusive and limited number of outlets in Gauteng. Due to their limited production, these beers will continue to be exclusive, more expensive and a delightful experience for those who are exploring the beer category and culture in South Africa.

SAB’s commitment to bring fresh, cold, quality beers is unwavering. They have amongst the the most highly-trained, skilled and experienced brewers in the country, if not the world, dedicated to brewing beers to the highest quality and standard.

There can be no doubt that SAB is beer in South Africa. A position that they are proud of and a legacy that they clearly aim to protect.

Read more about The World of Beer on pages 08 to 10 and about how to make your own Craft Beer on pages 22 to 23.

Yours in Tourism,
Des Langkilde. [email protected]

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