Who needs the wine route?

South Africa’s first Beer Route was launched on Wednesday by the KwaZulu-Natal tourism department in conjunction with five independent micro breweries.

The Beer Route offers visits to five brewing houses from the Midlands to Zululand as well as two large-scale commercial breweries, and included a demonstration by a Zulu brewmaster of German beer, tourism department representative Lauren Kolia said.

Previously monopolised by mass-producers South African Breweries (SAB) and United National Breweries, the KwaZulu-Natal beer industry has grown substantially following the establishment of the independent micro breweries.

The micro breweries are: Firkin Brew Pub; Nottingham Road Brewery; Farmers Road Brewery; Wartburg Hof Breweries and the Zululand Company Brewery.

At the launch Firkin Brew Pub tourism marketing manager Mmatsatsi Ramawela said beer’s tourism potential was clearly demonstrated by Germany’s annual Oktoberfest. Last year the festival attracted 5,5-million tourists who spent 240-million euros.

Coupled with strong existing local consumer beer demand the department expected the route to be a success, Kolia said.

“The beer industry offers thousands of job opportunities for workers, is a fascinating process and we believe has vast untapped potential,” he enthused.

Brew Route coordinator and Zululand Beer Company owner Graham Chennells said that beer was not only about drinking a six-pack while watching the rugby.
It was also about a highly-specialised taste experience, just like wine tasting.

Micro breweries specialised in the production of ale and other beers, as opposed to the big breweries which produced mainly lager.

“(They) offer visitors an opportunity to taste the flavour of different types of beer… including chilli, cinnamon, cloves and lemon.”

Organisers hope the South African Beer Route will emulate foreign trends, such as the US where the specialised market niche saw 2000 micro breweries mushroom in the last ten years. - Sapa

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