Drinks, food

q&a with pg groenewald from mountain brewing co

In Worcester's Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve in the Western Cape, you'll find Mountain Brewing Co, the area's first and finest makers of craft beer. At the helm of this craft brewery is PG Groenewald, a self-proclaimed perfectionist who produces top-notch brews. We caught up with him to learn more about his craft and personal interests.

What drew you to the world of craft beer?

I was never really a beer drinker; it was just something you had on a hot day. When I sampled my first craft beer, it was something different – with a much fuller flavour. After that I explored more and more beer, and what intrigued me was the world of flavours and aromas that craft beer has to offer. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I enjoy the challenge that brewing offers, by consistently creating a high-quality beer while juggling those 800 components that can go wrong in the process.

What did you do before you started brewing?

I was and still am, part of the family business Klipbokkop Nature Reserve, which does conferencing, 4x4 testing and development, as well as instructing.

What's the oddest (or most memorable) beer you've ever tasted?

In 2017 I got to taste a $300 Basil Sour [an American wild ale-style beer] which was seriously interesting, but probably the best I've ever tasted was Bourbon County Stout – it was then that I realised what the quality and standard of beer are supposed to be. As we come from a culture of beer that is arguably cheap and tasteless, it inspired me to produce a high-quality brew that is full of flavour.

Do you have a secret talent?

I have been told that I have a highly sensitive palate and nose, which has become well suited for this industry.

Which part of the world should every serious beer lover visit?

I would say Belgium is the place to start, because of its rich history in brewing, which is the basis of many styles today. Their food is also pioneered around beer. However, I don't want to take away from the fact that the States really introduced the craft-beer industry as an art .

What is your current favourite restaurant?

I'm a big fan of Asian and Mexican restaurants.

What do you enjoy most about being a brewer?

Total job satisfaction. I also love finding non-beer drinkers, and introducing a beer to them which they enjoy! Out of the 500 styles you can brew, there is definitely one beer for everyone out there.  

Anything to be excited about currently?

We have recently upgraded our brewery to include a three-tier, 600-litre machine, which will be the first of its kind in South Africa, and we've added more equipment to improve the quality. We have also won another five medals this year at the SANBT [South African national beer trophy]. It is humbling to see how far we have come from a simple 20-litre pot just four years ago.