Brew sisters

Did you know that you can drink more than 500 different kinds of commercial and craft beers in South Africa? We have drank a few litres. We are left spoilt for choice and have lost track long ago. But to be honest we do have our favourites which we will tell you about soon.

Among the big boys such as Castel or Black Label we came upon two sisters who brew their own craft. Their brewery is in the most scenic place you could ever imagine and least expect. Tania and Melanie Nieuwoudt established Cederbrew in 2013. The farm Kromrivier, located in the heart of the Cederberg, has been home to the Nieuwoudts for seven generations and gives just about the best surrounding for great creations. This is where they make the scientifically crafted craft beer Cederbrew. We talked to co-founder Tania about home brewing, craft beers and what it needs for a brew to be successful.

UMGEZOGEN.COM: Where did you get the idea from?
Tania: I like beer and we have got an exceptional quality of water flowing from the Cederberg mountains on the farm which is essential for brewing. 95% of beer is water. Great water makes some great beer. 

Who taught you to make beer?
I taught myself. I have been home brewing with pots and pans for years. We started the nano brewery a few years ago. My sister did her PhD in Food Science and specialised in Brewing. That’s what really makes the difference. Without her scientific input we could not deliver on such high quality and consistency. 

Which is your favourite home brew and do you ever drink commercial stuff?
I go through phases. At the moment I like my English Pale Ale best. If I drink a commercial beer I choose Windhoek Lager. Many big breweries mix additional ingredients into their beers especially sugar. Windhoek Lager only contains malt, hops, yeast and water. 

Which one is your bestseller?
South Africans prefer Blonde or Weiss beer because we have more hotter days than colder. I made a special cherry beer last year as we are very close to Ceres where most of South Africa’s fruit grows. People loved the taste and also the pink colour. So I will make some more this year. Ale has a bitter taste and goes down better in wintertime and is not really known by locals. South Africans are definitely becoming more interested and experimental when it comes to the different types of beer.

How much beer do you produce?
I brew about 100 litres a day or in other terms 1 500 bottles a month. Peak drinking seasons are the Christmas and Easter holidays. Almost every brewery is sold out after December. This is why I brew all year to be prepared for the silly season. I sell most of the bottles on the farm itself but some make it down to a few secluded locations in Cape Town.

Where do you get the ingredients from?
I buy them from SAB (South African Breweries). The ingredients are mostly imported from Germany and Belgium. South Africa produces hops, but due to the conditions not being as ideal as in the US and Europe there is not a large variety. That’s why we rely on other countries. 

What do you think about the hype around craft beers?
South Africans know a lot about their wines but not much about beer. Like many other micro brewers I learned from my own experience, the internet and talking to other brewers from around the world. On top I am lucky to have my sister who brings the scientific base to it all. To be able to brew on a longterm basis you need consistency and good quality.

Do you think craft beer has a future?
As most of the drinkers are not really educated in terms of the different tastes, batches of craft beer with poor quality go onto the market without getting noticed and sometimes put people off from drinking craft. The market is semi-uneducated but consumers are getting there and I think all will soon know the difference. Craft beer has a future for sure.

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