Her blog entitled the brewmistress is a great insight into the beers Lucy Corne tastes, what she loves and hates but also a present day archive of what’s brewing on the local craft beer scene.
Beer is one of those drinks that just automatically conjures up a stereotype of a bearded guy sharing a drink with his friends in a smoky pub, Lucy is the antithesis of that.
She says: “I’m from the UK and we are certainly a beer drinking country. My dad was always (and still is) a beer drinker and when I was little I would ask if I could “taste the frof” (froth – the foam on the beer) though I think it was more the texture I liked than the taste.”
So the Brew Mistress started young with a taste for ale, and the taste lingered.
“When I was a student I think I liked the idea of drinking beer more than the actual flavour, and used to order my pint of lager with a dash of lime cordial – a common thing in the UK (at least back then!).”
“My “a-ha moment” came when I lived in South Korea in 2009. One of our neighbours was a Canadian homebrewer with a signature beer called Death by Hops. It was the first time I had tasted an American style IPA and was instantly hooked. It kind of made me think every beer I’d had until then had been a waste,” she adds.
She admits that her profession is a bit unusual her in South Africa.
“In the US or UK or other countries with a well-established beer culture, being a beer writer is a fairly normal profession but in South Africa I often get comments like “oh, is that a thing?!” and I often find that while a publication would hire a knowledgeable wine writer to pen a piece on wines, they feel like anyone can write about beer because it’s “just beer” (often with cringe-making results!). Of course, our beer scene is still very young and that will change…hopefully,” she says.
Corne is part of that change but she also tips her hat to women in the male dominated industry that she admires.
She says: “There are now plenty of women working in the industry – a small and growing number of brewers plus plenty working in marketing and sales.”
And these women are doing great work says Corn: “There are a couple of pioneers I guess you would call them. Imke Pape at Brauhaus am Damm near Rustenburg is a self-taught brewer who has taken it upon herself to travel to Europe to train with brewmasters there and it’s paid off in her beers, which have won a variety of awards.”
“And of course, Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela who I first met when she was still working for SAB. She has since launched her own brewery, Brewhogs, and also conducts much-needed training for brewers,”
Lucy Corne is the editor of SA’s first beer magazine that launched last year and is a published author; African Brew (2013) and Beer Safari (2015) are both her literary works.