Cape town -Craftbeer brewing is alive and well on South African university campuses – and thanks to the upcoming 7th National SAB Intervarsity Beer Brewing Challenge, we’ll soon have the official answer to which institution does it best.

The challenge, which finishes on Saturday in Kyalami, Joburg, includes three local teams among the total of 14 – UCT, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and Stellenbosch University.

There are cash prizes up for grabs in the categories of champion lager, best cider, best speciality beer, best label, and winter warmer. An overall Castle Lager Best Bru Award is presented to the team with the overall best beer from any of the categories.

The teams also have a chance to win entry to an academic brewing programme from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD).

The IBD presents the Ben Lamaletie IBD floating trophy to the overall winners.

Each university has their own brewery where students have been preparing over the past few months. Earlier this week, the Western Cape teams bottled, packaged and couriered off their brews to the judges, ahead of their trip to the challenge final today.

The team from Stellenbosch worked late into the night this week, preparing for the trip, they said.

The four going to the competition are Stefan Hayward, who is studying towards a PhD in biochemistry, Timo Tait and Jonathan Quanso, both doing their MSc in biochemistry, and Louwrens Theron, working for his PhD in wine biotechnology.

They will be supervised by Stellenbosch academic Anton Cordier.

Hayward said: “We enjoy the process of making beer. We do beer tasting every evening and put up ‘free beer’ posters.”

Most of their beer is ale.

“We make stout for stout weather and in summer we make lagers and blonde ales.”

Among the beers they are taking to the competition are the Munich Dunkel dark lager, the Weizen, which is their speciality wheat beer, a hazelnut stout, and an apple cider.

The Weizen is Hayward’s pick for a prize, and the beer of which he is most proud.

“The hops we used are all German varieties… We did not use municipal water, but drove to Newlands in Cape Town to collect springwater for the brew.”

UCT has a busy brewing culture too.

Their society, Brewing UCT, has 11 members but those who will attend today are Durga Iyer, Cath Edward, Alex Opitz, Jonathan Dean and Dereck Ndoro.

Brian Willis, who heads the group, says they are all in the university’s chemical engineering department, in the Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research.

UCT has been attending the competition since its inception, winning top honours in 2012.

Willis said, “Our lager is a Munich Dunkel, the winter warmer is an IPA (Indian Pale Ale), and the speciality is a Weiss (wheat beer)… We typically try to do more than one beer per category, so that we can choose the one which best fits its style.

“For example, we have brewed an excellent version of a Vienna lager, and the Munich Dunkel. Unfortunately, the Vienna lager will have to stay at home for this competition, but at least we can enjoy it.”

CPUT’s team, meanwhile, have been perfecting their rooibos lager.

The team includes Ryan Morkel, who is studying for his MTech in Food Technology; Terence Keeling and Arshad Parker, who are studying for their BTech in Food Technology, and an exchange student, Heinrich Meyer. They will be supervised by their lecturer Tony Obilina.

Keeling is doing research on rooibos beer.

“We would like to send people every year and create a new bloodline,” he said.

They are entering their CPUT IPA for the winter warmer and the Rooibos Bru for their lager.

“Our IPA smells fruity and herbal, almost citrusy… The Rooibos Bru smells like beer but tastes like rooibos… it would be nice to win.

“We are a young brewing society and we are mainly there to learn and for feedback from the judges.”

Weekend Argus