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Microbreweries and craft beer in Cape Town – in a bubble of its own

Cape Town is renowned for its mountain, natural beauty and winelands. With the winelands comes an array of brands, blends and tastes which not only provides satisfaction to distinguished wine drinkers, but also creates an atmosphere which appeals to the outdoor lifestyle enjoyed by many. It is no surprise that the growth of microbreweries and craft beer has added to these wonderful tastes of the Cape and Air Products is fortunate to have been a part of this growth process.

Freshline™ gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen forms an integral part of the manufacturing process as well as the presentation of craft beer to beer drinkers. As one of the market leaders in Freshline™ gases, Air Products has been supplying product to a number of microbreweries in the Western Cape area, some of them more established than others.

Many beer lovers across the world have tried to master the art of brewing craft beer at home as a hobby, but this has grown to become an art in its own right. Craft beer production created an opportunity for brewmasters to refine this process to a skill which results in a variety of distinguished tastes for a trendy and rapidly growing market.

The process of producing craft beer is much more than ingredients such as malt and hops being added together and fermented to result in a mature beer taste. It requires a dedicated and passionate brewmaster, key ingredients and components which forms part of the chemical processes involved in producing a perfect craft beer.

Freshline™ carbon dioxide is used for the carbonation of the final product and is added towards the end of the process, and Freshline™ nitrogen or a Freshline™ gas mixture is used in the dispensing of beer to add the final ‘touch’ when it is served.

A brewer is able to create a unique beer by producing small quantities which delivers strong flavours. The ingredients used by microbrewers are different to those used by large, commercial brewers. The introduction of craft beers to South African beer drinkers has created a new excitement in the marketplace as there is now a wide range of tastes available and beer drinkers are no longer restricted to the same brands and styles which have been available over the last few years.

Air Products’ Regional Sales Manager – Western Cape, Nita Müller explains the importance of understanding the use of Freshline™ gases in craft beer brewing: “We strive towards outstanding customer service, coupled with ensuring a secure supply of Freshline™ gases through the complete value chain of craft beer offered to the end customer.” Müller further highlights: “I believe what distinguishes Air Products from the rest is the fact that we are committed to partner with our customers – from the brewing process, to tap, to glass.”

The first microbrewery supply agreement Air Products signed in Cape Town was with Cape Brewing Company (CBC) approximately five years ago, followed by Darling Brewery. The latest signings includes Noon Gun Brewery and Devils Peak Brewing Company and Air Products is committed to play an integral role in the brewing process. Air Products’ infrastructure enables them to supply microbreweries via Cylinder, Maxitank, Minitank CryoEase® or Bulk.

Wolfgang Koedel from Cape Brewing Company (CBC): “At CBC, we constantly strive to improve our processes. As a brewmaster, I am passionate about what I do and believe discipline is the key to brewing good quality beer. This discipline entails the selection of raw materials from the start. Quality of the raw materials is extremely important as well as ensuring that the materials are available when it is required in the brewing process. Air Products is a key partner and we are comfortable that they are focused on ensuring that our product is supplied to us when we require it. The team further supports us in ensuring that our gas usage and composition it best suited to our operations”.

When speaking to the craft brewmasters, craft beer is expected to take at least 10% total market share of South Africa by 2022.

Müller concludes: “At Air Products, we believe in growing alongside customers and provide the same level of customer service and technical expertise to microbreweries across the Western Cape. We provide a wide variety of gases for different applications in the markets we serve, but we are particularly proud to form a part of the craft brewing business in the area”.

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