The Yeastern Cape Brewing Club Collab

Written by: Gerhardus Gildenhuys

A few months ago, the craft brewing scene was doing great.  Some breweries have established themselves and have built up a reputation to produce consistently good beer with special beers being launched regularly.  Collab brews between some of these well-respected breweries were eagerly awaited by many beer enthusiasts.

What would be the possibility of a Collab brew between a brewery and a homebrew club?  Could it work?  Would a brewery even consider this and if so, why?

Craft breweries and homebrewers have a lot in common.  They all love beer…actually most of them are beer fanatics!  Not only when it comes to drinking beer, but everything about beer; the beer-making process, the ingredients, the detailed recipe, the fun and excitement of a new beer, and just the camaraderie of mingling with fellow, likeminded beer-crazy people.

The Yeastern Cape Brew Club (YCBC) consists of a group of eager homebrewers.  They might not be the largest homebrew club around but make up for it in their enthusiasm and commitment to the cause…BEER.  So we have one-half of a two-party Collab.

On the other side, we have a local Craft Brewery, Richmond Hill Brewing Company (RHBC).  They have a loyal following for their regular beers as well as a reputation of coming up with excellent limited edition beers.

Most craft breweries are very open about their beers.  Some of the recipes are even freely available.  They do not see inquisitive homebrewers as a threat, but rather as a chance to advance the craft brewing industry. Educate your clients!!  Although home brewers like to brew and drink their own beer, they also love to have a pint or two of a good quality beer from a craft brewery.

The idea of a Collab has been there for a while.  The idea was discussed before and now it was finally put to RHBC: would you consider doing a Collab with the YCBC?  The answer was YES.  But how will it work?  What style? Whose recipe? Lots of questions.

The YCBC members were asked to indicate if they would like to participate and this yielded 10 members to represent the club.  A meeting was held with Niall from RHBC and the basics were discussed and agreed upon.  Each person put forward his idea of what he would like to see being brewed.  These were written on a board and each person could mark his 3 choices.  Simple.

So we had a basic style.

Next, the ingredients and a framework for the recipe were discussed.

So we had a basic style and a recipe framework.

The label for the product was discussed and agreed upon… Check.

For a week this was debated on our WA group.  Changes were made.  More changes were made until we had our beer!  Ideas for a name were shared and suitably matured.  An online video meeting was arranged with Christopher Rothmann from Liquid Culture, a yeast supplier, to get his inputs as to which yeast would be best suited for our beer.  We identified a yeast that would do the job.  Then in true beer brew style, the yeast was donated for the project!!  Ingredients were ordered and when they arrived, a tea party was held to evaluate the effect of different concentrations of the secret ingredient in the beer.  Now we were ready!

A brew date was set and everyone arrived at the brewery just before 7 am for the big occasion.  What do you get when you allow 10 homebrewers into a commercial brewery and tell them they will do the complete brew (under strict supervision of course)? Ten grown men behaving almost like small children that were just told they can go on all the rides in an amusement park for free for the day!

Two 500 liter batches were made and placed in a 1000 liter fermenter.  After a long but exciting day, the group sat down outside the brewery at around 18:00 to discuss the day.  All with big smiles on their faces.

At the moment the beer is happily fermenting.  What will it taste like? Will it turn out to be the beer we aimed for in our recipe?  Only time will tell.

Sadly, we do not know when this beer will be packaged, tasted, and enjoyed by the brewers and fellow craft beer enthusiasts as the ban on alcohol selling and distribution came into effect again.  However, when it is released to those that appreciate a good beer, we hope that they will be able to read this beforehand and know that what they are drinking is more than a beer.  It is something that was crafted by a group of beer crazy individuals who came together and united to do something they truly love and enjoy.  BREWING BEER!

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