Brew craft beer with attitude
High in the rugged Cederberg mountain range lies a farm that not only produces excellent wine, but which now also brews three outstanding beers with an interesting story behind them.
The wine farm known as Cederberg Private Cellar has been producing wine for a few decades and under David Nieuwoudt's leadership it has become known as a top quality boutique winery. Now, it has an artisanal brewery attached to it too.
Run by Alex Nel, who doubles up as a winemaker on the farm, Cederberg Brewery has been producing a blonde ale and an India pale ale. The names and concept behind the two beers is inspired by a poem written by C Louis Leipoldt in the early 1900s about two Cederberg baboons dubbed Boggom and Voertsek, and which was more recently turned into a song by David Kramer, who had the two baboons driving in a red Pontiac causing general madness and mayhem. Alex has cleverly named the pair of beers Boggom and Voertsek after these two characters.
'We have very few pests or diseases, but we have many baboons. The story of the two inseparable baboons reminds me of the path David [Nieuwoudt] and I have come on since we met in 2008, obviously for wine, which eventually turned to beer,' Alex explained.
Recently, through a joint effort Alex has had a 1966 Pontiac restored, which he will use to bring the story behind the beers to life. He has hopes of installing a draught system in the boot for festivals.
Alex Nel next to the restored 1966 Pontiac. Credit: Tammy Turck-Nel
While Alex is predominantly focused on developing the white wines on the farm, the science behind the fermentation process of beer has always fascinated him. He spent some time in California in 2010 where he learnt more about the brewing process but it was after conducting proper upgrades on the wine cellar that he could get down to business on the beer. The Cederberg’s water is particularly ideal for beer brewing.
'Beer is 95 per cent water, so, the quality of the water makes a big difference. The water here is from mountain springs and is naturally filtered through sandstone. It comes down the mountain in David’s grandfather's old water channel built by hand, and directly into the brewery. It contains no chlorine or other chemicals. The pH is perfect for brewing beer (and lagers especially). It’s called "soet water" by the locals. It tastes great on its own.'
Dubbed simply Original Lager, to pay homage to the style that Alex originally brewed when he first moved to the farm, this is Cederberg Brewery’s latest creation. Since lager requires stringent temperature control, equipment needs to be up to scratch; this is another area of the brewery that has received an upgrade.
'I love heavier style beers, but sometimes you want something light you can drink a lot of and quench your thirst. The lager is exactly that. It is fresh, crisp and full of life. Elegant malt and hop aroma with a slight bitterness to balance the palate,' Alex explains of the reason he chose to go with a lager-style beer.
His aim is to create beer that is as extraordinary as the Cederberg mountains from which it comes.
‘Cederberg wine has quite a reputation due to consistency and strict quality control during winemaking and viticulture. We are very precise with no compromise so the new brewery and beer has to live up to expectations. The beer is just going to get better and better,’ he promises.
Visit cederbergbrewery.com to learn more and to order beer