WATCH: Home brewers’ club have something special brewing for CraftFest
It is also the preserve of hundreds who brew not for sale but for passion, in 25-litre kegs in garages or outbuildings.
And what do they get out of it? “We taste each other’s beer.”
So says Doug Berry, who heads up Durban Home Brewers from his Durban North “brewery” behind his home.
The club has about 110 members of all ages and ethnicities. They come from all over KZN. And they’ll be pouring a collection of home brews at CraftFest.
Berry proudly shows his Grain Father brewing kettle but also the original kegs in which he brewed his first beers at a fraction the cost.
“I find it hard to let go of the stuff that’s been part of my journey,” he says.
That journey of a “Black Label” man started in England, “trying out alternatives”. “We lived in the UK and enjoyed drinking the different ales.”
Back in SA it all started on a holiday at his wife’s cousin’s hops farm in George, and then with a little help from Scott Bevan of Beer Bros, his first brew came to fruition in 2014.
After his second brew he built his brew shed. “It’s a hobby, not a job,” he says.
Bevan started Durban Home Brewers and today the club meets at pubs, restaurants and breweries to try out beers and for regular beer competitions.
Home brewers are not licensed to sell for profit, so all the proceeds from the CraftFest day will be donated to the local Umduduzi Children’s Hospice.
“Home brewers are always generous with their help and are open to critical feedback and problem-solving. Such criticism is always from a friend,” he says. “We keep learning, just when you think you’ve seen everything, someone brings something new.”
Berry likes to try every style of beer - he’s even produced a “wild” beer made from yeast harvested from the bromeliads in his garden.
“Last year’s batch was really wild, this year’s is more tame,” he says, offering a sniff of the brewing product.
He’s even done fruit-infused beers, including one using grenadillas, again from the garden. Cherry beer too has featured. He remembers trying that one out at Splashy Fen some years back.
The lecturer at Varsity College pours a golden ale he will be producing at CraftFest. He also promises a mojito beer, but was mum about how that one came about.
Something else to look forward to will be Bevan and partner Brad Vincent at Beer Bros giving a craft beer demonstration at CraftFest. The two started a venture which supplies equipment and ingredients to home brewers after meeting at a braai where both brought bottles of craft beer.
“Our stars aligned one drunken evening when we conjured up that we could do this and made our own home brew,” Bevan says.
They found it hard to get equipment and the key ingredients, and struck up a relationship with suppliers, which saw them initially supplying the local market from their garage.
Today Beer Bros has a shop in the Oxford Village in Hillcrest and is supplying brewers “all over the country and as far afield as the States,” Bevan says.
“Durban Home Brewers is moving away from the standard ales,” he says. “We’re trying the weird and wonderful.
“How about a marshmallow porter? We are stepping out of our comfort zones. We do it for fun, and the love of it. There’s passion and a large social aspect to it.”
The two “partners in crime” Bevan and Vincent have made it to the finals of the craft beer nationals, which are adjudicated by certified beer judges.
The beer has to be based on a set beer style and they have performed well among about 200 participants.
So what’s on offer at CraftFest? His wife Claire is doing a novel donut porter, while he’s offering a tweaked version of a more commercial IPA.
Oh, and there’s a non-alcoholic gin on offer too.
- Save the date: CraftFest is on April 29 at the Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market from 10am to 4pm. Tickets: R100 adults, prebooked, R50 Children 12-17. Children under 12 free. Book through Quicket at www.quicket.co.za. Tickets R120 at the gate. Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CraftFestIOS.