The first microbrewery in South Africa was founded in the 1980’s. It has taken a few decades for the trend to catch on, but 2011 saw a revolution in Craft Beer in South Africa. We now boast over 40 different microbreweries country wide.
As we like to be at the forefront of trends, or prefer to lead them, we hold a good stock of quality Craft Beers from local microbreweries as well as from abroad. One of the local favourites is the Darling Brew Slow Beer.
‘Slow Beer’ is both the name of Darling Brew’s first Craft Beer, as well as their brewing philosophy. Encompassing all of their beers and highlighting their slow fermentation process, slow is the name of the game in Darling.
This is an extreme lager with a rich golden colour. Refreshing with a real hops flavour, the Slow Beer is smooth and sweet with a great body, banana undertones, and rounding off with a mild bitterness. At a low 4% alcohol this is a great thirst quenching beer for those hot summer days.
The ‘Slow Beer’ was inspired by the Geometric Tortoise, of which an artistic impression appears on the label. It is one of the rarest tortoises in the world, with approximately 2000 left in the wild and is an endemic to the Western Cape.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Kevin Wood from Darling Brew to ask a few questions.
When and how was Darling Brew born?
I was on an overland trip when I met Andre who brewed his own beer. I was sceptical about home brewed beer. He said if you don’t like it you do not have to pay. It turned out to be one of the best beers I have had. That is where I thought it would be a great concept for Darling.
What are some of the best/most difficult parts of your job?
Like most things in life finding something you enjoy doing is the most difficult. I am lucky, I get to create a brand using wildlife which is one of my greatest interests. People without integrity are the most difficult dealings I have.
What are your favourite beers?
I love all of them, not because they are ours, but I get to drink them like wine is drunk. This time of the year I drink mostly Black Mist.
What pairs well with Darling’s range of beer?
Pairing ones imagination is the best way to approach it. The more creative you are, the more tastes you will discover. We have a guy in Paarl using our Black Mist to make a venison pie and he reckons it is the best pie he has ever baked.
What are the attractions one can see when visiting Darling Brew?
The taproom is a very creative space. We are in the process of building a new brewery on a farm outside of Darling where we will be able to offer brewery tours, great food pairings, and bring out many more delicious beers.
Is there a “gateway” beer that got you into craft beer? Do you remember when/why you started drinking it?
I do not like sweet beers, which is what was predominantly on the market when we started. I also knew that I had to make money from the first day so I decided to start with a refreshing lager with lower alcohol than the average beer and slightly bitter, that is how Darling Brew Slow Beer was born.
What does craft beer mean to you?
For me craft is about innovation, passion and no boundaries in what can be achieved.
For the non-beer drinker where should one start?
Easy drinking low alcohol and slightly carbonated beer which a rich golden colour with a hint of hops is where I started, and I never looked back.
Tell us about your beers.
We have a variety that caters for everyone. Slow and Native are very easy drinking with a lower level of alcohol which makes for responsible drinking. They also appeal to different people, Bone Crusher is a love it or hate it beer that is full of mind blowing aromas, high in alcohol so treat with respect. Black Mist is a rich full bodied ale and should be enjoyed on cold winters nights around the fire. Silverback is a specialist beer that is very smooth but appeals to the niche.
Anything we can look out for?
The new brewery and loads more delicious beers.
Beer vs Wine – which one rules and why?
I think there is a great rivalry that is evenly balanced, which is a shift from a few years ago when beer could not compete on any level.
What is Darling Brew doing for conservation?
Our labels are mainly driven by endangered or misunderstood animals that do not always get the attention they deserve. My philosophy is to inspire through the design and the information that the environment is a great place to be, and to protect what little is left. We were fortunate enough to purchase the nesting cameras for the Black Eagle project in the Western Cape. This is a great example of people not being aware that the Verreaux’s Eagles numbers are declining as much as the other big raptors. We have been approached by a lady in the Kruger studying the Ground Hornbill which will be our next project. It will be called Thunderbird.
Thanks for the interesting answers Kevin, and well I may be a bit more biased on the Beer vs Wine aspect (wine for me) there is just nothing like a great Craft Beer after a long hot day.
Do you enjoy Craft Beer? What style of beer do you like? Any favourite brands?
Written by: Kim Drake.
Images courtesy of: Darling Brew.