Voice of America (Washington, DC)

South Africa: New South African Beers Flavored With Boer History

(Page 4 of 5)

"I called my brewery The Cockpit because I love aviation. In a previous life me and two friends, who are now also microbrewers, owned a little four-seat plane and we flew all over the country. I decided to join my love for flying and for beer and to give my brewery an aviation theme," de Beer explained. "All my beers are named after famous planes and The Cockpit is where I'm happy, where I'm in control."

The former entrepreneur's signature beer is a hoppy pale ale that he's named "Spitfire," after the Second World War English fighter plane.

De Beer began brewing beer at home in 2000, after, like many others in the craft beer sector, he became increasingly disillusioned with the mass-produced beer on offer in his homeland.

"It still all tastes the same," he scoffed. "It was after the first beer that I made that I realized South Africans deserve more than commercial lager. Honestly, after the first batch of beer and I tasted the results, I realized, 'Okay; I've got something here that I won't be able to keep to myself.' I started sharing with friends; it's a hobby that got out of hand."

Especially when one of his brews "exploded all over the wall ... My wife said, 'That's the last time you mess up my kitchen; you get your own place now.'"

De Beer said his life has become "enriched beyond my dreams" since he opened his brewery in 2010. "I want to spread this love of beer that I've got.... I do it because it's my passion. Yes, I do make a little bit of money out of it; I've got no false hopes of becoming stinking rich out of it, but I enjoy what I do... ."

'I'm young and I'm female'

Deep in the Magaliesberg Mountains in Gauteng, in the genteel, luxurious surrounds of an estate that once bred Friesian horses, is a brewery run by someone who's an anomaly in South African microbrewing.

At 21 years of age, Nuschka Botha is the youngest commercial brewer and one of only two female commercial craft brewers in the country.

"It's very nice to be able to say, 'Yeah; I'm young and I'm a female.' That makes me very proud to say we can do what we do. I'm not alone though; I've got a good team behind me as well," she said, standing next to her copper brewing equipment in the spacious Black Horse Brewery.

Botha, who has a degree in marketing, jokingly blamed her father, Bernard, for her "fall" into beer brewing.

"How it all started was, one night my dad got really drunk and he promised a whole lot of friends that he would start a brewery. And he realized that, 'It's too expensive to just be a hobby, so we'll have to change it into a business.'"

Soon after that, she said, her phone rang.

"I was living in Cape Town at that stage and my dad with the whole brewery story phoned me up and said, 'Listen, someone's got to make the beer so you've got to learn how to do it.'"

Botha said she was "a bit thrown" but soon accepted the challenge, and immediately began acquiring "beer-making knowledge."

"I went around Cape Town speaking to guys who literally made beer in their garages. All of them taught me something small and then when I came back to Johannesburg I did an apprenticeship at the Heineken brewery," she explained.

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