What is Craft Beer and Why Should You Try It?

Craft beer in South Africa is becoming ever more popular. As more and more local breweries produce tasty unique, and authentically crafted drinks – many people are turning away from the mainstream and mass-produced alcoholic drink which litter the aisles of off-licenses and supermarkets.

But if you are unfamiliar with craft beers, you may be wondering why you should stray from the drinks produced by mainstream brands and multi-national breweries. You may already have your own favorite drinks from one of the best-known brewers and feel reluctant to branch out from your current go-to drinks.

However, there is a whole world out there of unique, creative, and tasty beers which use innovative ingredients, traditional brewery techniques, or innovative techniques. Learning more about craft beer and trying a few of the smaller brands out there is a wonderful way to explore the best drinks South Africa has to offer. And you just might find your new favorite tipple along the way!

In the article below, we will look at exactly what craft beer is, why you need to try the incredible produce of your latest breweries, and the recent explosion of local craft breweries in South Africa. So let’s get started!

What is Craft Beer?

Giving an overarching definition for craft beer is a tricky task. As with all matters related to your taste, drinks are a very personal and subjective subject. However, broadly speaking, for a drink to be considered a craft beer, it needs to have been created using real malts.

This process of creation means that the resulting craft beers have more texture, dimension, colour, and flavours than the mass-produced products sold by a large, multi-national brewery.

Manufacturers of craft beer also use unique, traditional, or innovative methods to produce their drinks and make use of locally available ingredients from suppliers and farmers in the area.

Another difference is that your craft beer will often have been left both unpasteurized and unfiltered – helping to make the drink more flavorful, unique, and identifiable. In contrast, many large-scale breweries will often add chemicals and preservatives to their produce.

Many brewers of craft beers in South Africa also use traditional brewing methods combined with new equipment and interesting ingredients.

You’ll find that there is a wide range of different flavours and approaches used by each brewery in South Africa. And with a bit of experimentation, you’re bound to find a craft beer that fits your own tastes and preferences.

Why Should You Try Craft Beer?

If you are growing tired of the best that major breweries have to offer, then exploring craft beers is a great way to find your new favourite drink. Not only will you be able to try out a range of different tastes and unique textures, but you’ll also be supporting local and independent breweries in South Africa.

Here are just some of the many reasons you should try out locally-produced craft beers.

Craft Beer Tastes Better!

One of the first things you’ll notice when you try out craft beers, is the improvement in the taste! Passionate owners of small and independent breweries are constantly experimenting and trialing new ways to improve the colour, flavour, and texture of their offerings.

This extra investment in improving the taste will reflect in the best flavours making their way to your glass, in contrast to the mass-produced drinks on offer from a bigger brand.

Explore New Flavours and Varieties

The majority of large breweries run along the principle of not fixing what isn’t broken. This means you are less likely to be able to explore a variety of flavours from major brands.

In contrast, every South African brewery will have its own experimental approaches and tastes. You may find that no two brews from the company have exactly the same taste as they innovate and improve their processes or try out new, innovative ingredients.

Craft Beers are Full of Proteins and Antioxidants!

Craft beer contains a variety of different benefits that can help to support your health. These include protein, vitamin B complex, and antioxidants. Local breweries are also likely to leave out the chemicals and preservatives which are found in major brewery drinks.

So switching to craft beer could have some unexpected benefits to your health that come along with an improved taste experience!

Craft Beers Are a Great Conversation Starter!

Ordering craft beers while out with friends and encouraging them to try out new options can lead to a great discussion about the taste, quality, and ingredients involved. You can debate the best beers available locally and why your favourite beats out the mass-produced options on offer at the bar.

Getting interested in craft beer is a journey where you are always learning, trying out new tastes, and exploring new breweries and drinks. All of which can be great experiences to share with similarly-minded friends.

Higher Alcohol Content!

Most major breweries only offer will only offer you 2.5% alcohol content or below. This is why many craft beer aficionados refer to mass-produced beer as “water.”

When you switch from bid brand drinks to craft beers, you will be able to enjoy a beer with increased alcohol content. Craft breweries will produce drinks with more alcohol per volume, rating from at least 5%, and reaching sometimes up to 20%.

Higher Quality Ingredients

Local South African breweries pride themselves on sourcing only the best ingredients for their craft beers. So, although all beer is usually made from yeast, grains, water, and hops – the difference in quality will be reflected in the taste.

If you take the time to make it out to a local brewery, you will find that the staff will take pride in the high-quality ingredients they source to use in their drinks.

Cheaper Drinking Sessions

As we discussed above, craft beer will normally have a higher alcohol content than the mainstream options out there. This means that as well as enjoying higher-quality drinks with better taste, you’ll also need to buy fewer drinks to get the same satisfaction!

Whereas you may need to opt for five or six drinks of mainstream beer when you pop down to the pub, you may only need to drink three craft beers for the very same effect!

Support Local Businesses

When you choose craft beer over mass-produced alcohol you will be supporting your local community and economy. As well as injecting money into the coffers of local breweries, you will also be supporting the livelihoods of local farmers and suppliers who work with them.

So, the next time you lift up a pint of craft beer, you can feel satisfied that you are supporting your local community at the same time!

Enjoy Seasonal and Exclusive Craft Beers Throughout the Year

Because producers of craft beer source local ingredients from farmers and producers, they often produce seasonal drinks and exclusive brews for you to try out. This makes drinking their produce a more interesting option, rather than simply turning to a larger brewer who releases the same drink from spring to winter.

Support Environmentally Sustainable Companies

A lot of brewers of craft beers are committed to their local environment and use sustainable processes when creating their products. Many work closely with local farmers and even use eco-friendly sources of energy such as solar power.

So, if you are concerned about your environmental impact, you can opt for a local brewery that produced craft beer with a lower carbon footprint than that of a global brand.

As you can see above, there are plenty of reasons for you to try a craft beer the next time you fancy a drink. From the taste and quality to supporting local businesses and friendlier environmental practices – there are many reasons for you to branch out and try a local option.

Craft Beer in South Africa

Over the last century, the majority of beer production in South Africa was dominated by multinational giants. However, there is currently an ever-growing appetite for craft beers which has resulted in a huge increase in the number of independent and artisan breweries producing local tastes and flavours.

Independent craft beer producers have blossomed all over South Africa and are battling it out with the best-known brands to snag new customers and drinkers. Whereas bigger companies concentrate on mass-production, smaller companies offer innovative, creative, and tasty variations for local drinkers to enjoy.

Craft beer first began to gain ground in South Africa with the 1983 launch of Mitchell’s Brewery on the Western Cape. And since then interest has steadily grown and gained more attention from drinkers during the late 2000s. This interest has only grown in the past five years and there are now more producers and drinkers of craft beer than ever.

How Many Craft Beer Producers Are There in South Africa?

It is estimated that there are now over 200 independent producers of craft beer in South Africa. And although interest in craft beer has grown substantially over the past twenty or so years, it still only accounts for less than 1% of the overall South African beer market.

So, although the share is currently quite small, the proliferation of craft beer makers in South Africa does have a foothold in the market which is only set to grow as more drinkers discover the benefits of independently produced local products.

What’s The Difference Between Craft Beer and Regular Beer?

Mainstream beers are usually aimed towards more mainstream tastes, so tend to be more predictable, bland, and less unique. Producers of mainstream beers want to appeal to as many people as possible, so cannot have tastes that are individualized or too unique.

In contrast, craft beer is made for smaller audiences and as such can produce smaller batches of more flavorful and adventurous brews. However, many craft producers also take pride in producing tasty and accessible drinks you can enjoy which are produced using traditional or innovative methods.

One of the defining enjoyments of drinking craft beer over regular beer is that you will always be exploring and trying out new brewers, drinks, and flavours. This variety is one of the many reasons that people turn to craft beer when they grow tired of the beer multinationals sell.

Takeaway – What is Craft Beer and Why Should You Try It?

When you pick up your first craft beer you are starting a wonderful journey full of taste, discovery, and fun times. South Africa has a wealth of different craft beer options available and there are plenty of tastes and textures to try out along the way.

So, the next time you fancy a pint, why not check out your local breweries and discover what great drinks they have on offer?

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