In the heart of the Cape Winelands, betwixt a host of billionaire and famous-people-owned winefarms, there lives a world famous brewer from Bavaria. We spoke to Wolfgang Koedel about his world famous CBC beer.
Wolfgang, why has craft beer become so popular worldwide over the past two decades? What do you believe triggered the sudden rise?
I think people got tired of existing styles including those offered by commercial brewery giants. Beer drinkers often choose to explore new flavour profiles. It's becoming more likely that people want to associate 'out-of-the-box thinking’ with their choice in beer and unhinge themselves from the beer 'Matrix'. In South Africa, CBCs supporters' freedom of choice is a pertinent movement. This motivated us to continue experimenting and developing new beers and flavours such as the Imperial IPA, Mandarina Bavaria IPA, Weiss beers and fruit flavoured beers. For one, we have carried out our own style interpretation of a Berliner Weiss.
That Mandarina is a particular favourite at Heavy Chef HQ. What separates the African brewing culture from the European one? - and what excites you about the African beer industry?
When it comes to Lager, African and European brewing methods are quite similar. For instance, when placing five European Lagers next to five African Lagers during a blind tasting, it's unlikely that someone will be able to tell them apart at the first try. When it comes to traditional African brewing, for example sorghum beer, there is still a lot we can learn from the European beer making.
CBC is renowned for innovation. What are some of the elements of CBC's approach that you're most proud of?
I must admit it's 'cool' to win international and national awards. It proves that Africa can compete in the International beer market. I certainly vouch for the CBC team's discipline in production, dedication, their passion, energy and love for the products. To be part of the training process, develop peoples' skills, and add to their knowledge, quality of living and their love for craft are of the most rewarding privileges in the brewing trade.
Heavy Chef is heavily involved in the startup ecosystem in Africa. CBC itself can be considered a startup, having only been formed a few years ago. What has stood out for you on this journey?
When CBC was established in 2012, we wanted to prioritise giving back to the environment and community. CBC is now one of the greenest breweries in Africa. Compared to when we started brewing, we have reduced our carbon footprint print by 60 grams CO2 for every litre beer produced. We're grateful for the opportunity to support smaller breweries and other home-brewers. It's an honour to witness others’ passion for beer production develop into successful and sustainable businesses.
Heavy Chef is a platform for people that do; that act rather than just speak. Is there someone, or some people, that you find inspiring that fall within the 'doer' category?
Absolutely! Looking again at up-and-coming small craft brewers and home-brewers; what I have seen and tasted thus far is very exciting. It takes a lot of energy, commitment and resources - while many have almost nothing - to produce good beer, yet they create amazing beers!