Celebrating Beer at 1000 Hills Brewing Company

International Beer Day: Friday 6 August    

We spent a lazy afternoon in the company of a Foreign Exchange Student, a Dean, a Graduate, a Quarterback and a Rebel – and no, it wasn’t a varsity reunion, nor an academic meeting of any sort, it was, incredulously, an afternoon of discovering fabulous locally-brewed craft beer ahead of International Beer Day which is celebrated with great glee, in pubs and bars globally on Friday 6 August.    

The 1000 Hills Brewing Company, part of the 1000 Hills Chef School campus, creates a fabulous range of five limited edition beers. Brewmaster Trevor Maarschalk (pictured) is ably supported in his mission by 1000 Hills Chef School students who learn the art of craft brewing as part of their second-year curriculum – hence the beers all having academic-inspired names.

The Challenge of Change

When Trevor turned 50, he was looking for a change in career and lifestyle. For decades he had brewed beer in his garage at home, so when the 1000 Hills Chef School and Brewery came up for sale in 2016, Trevor and his wife Desiree bought it. “It was a huge leap of faith,” recalls Desiree, who after bringing up two sons, now looks after 55 students. “We wanted to do what we love, and felt it was time to give back,” she considers.

The school, which was established in 2005, offers a two-year full time Professional International Chef Course which provides industry-ready culinary training. Included in the curriculum is pairing of beers and wines with food. “It is an essential combination,” explains Trevor. The students are encouraged to get creative with their own flavour profiles when experimenting with new beers. Caramelized popcorn and apple pie beer, for example, have both been given the thumbs up as potential new flavours. In fact, students from the 1000 Hills Chef School are the only culinary school to be invited to the annual inter-varsity brewing competition, where they compete against chemical engineers and micro-biologists to create new brews …. and regularly walk away with coveted prizes.

Pale Ale

The 1000 Hills Brewing Company offers five distinctive craft beers brewed across the pale ale and lager styles covering a range of flavours and appearances, available bottled and on tap. I learned that craft beer uses four ingredients only: water, malt, hops and yeast, as opposed to commercial lines which bulk up their malt with rice and maize to keep the cost down. I also learned that one can match or contrast flavours when pairing beer with food – so spicy foods work well with hoppy and bitter beers, while rich savoury foods work best with malty or smoky beers, and desserts can be paired with sweet or bitter beers

First year student, Kushy Manzi, talks us through a wall-chart about the making of craft beer

If one is indecisive or you wish to try all the options – one can order a tasting tray to sample each of the five lines.

The Classroom Café fine dining restaurant and bistro-style café are the practical training ground for the students, and is open to the public during the day every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Brewing Co-op

The 1000 Hills Brewing Company is part of a brewing co-operative, sharing facilities, resources, equipment and costs with Clockwork Brewhouse and Doctrine Brewing.

A feast of brewers proudly displaying their wares: Megan Gemmell, Londy Mbanjwa and Trevor Maarschalk

Clockwork Brewhouse is an all-woman concern, run by Megan Gemmell – a UKZN Pmb MSc graduate who fell in love with the notion of brewing on the varsity chemistry campus.   Megan must surely be the envy of many – she is one of the few South African BJCP judges, and only one of two in KZN, which basically means she has the certification and accreditation to be a beer judge, and travels around the country judging craft beer. She works together with Londy Mbanjwa. The two women have been brewing together for more than three years.

Megan’s partner, Dion van Huyssteen heads up Doctrine Brewing which specialises in small-run, bespoke stand out, unusual beers which include imperial beers, rich Baltic Porters, and African wormwood-infused pilsners.    

One never needs a reason to drink beer – but our visit was prompted by International Beer Day – the purpose of which is to celebrate the craft of brewing.  The founders of the Beer Day had three reasons for starting the day: to gather with friends and enjoy the taste of beer; to celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving beer; and to unite the world under the banner of beer, by celebrating the beers of all nations together on a single day.

And surprise, surprise, International Hangover Day falls on…… Saturday 7 August!

Sampling some fabulous craft beer is Paul Candow in discussion with Trevor Maarschalk.

Good to Know

1000 Hills Brewing Company, Classroom Café and 1000 Hills Chefs School

2 Wootton Avenue, Botha’s Hill

The deli and brewery are open to the public every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 8.30am until 4pm.

Visit: www.1000hillsbrewery.co.za

Tel 031 777 1566

Email: travor@craftbrewers.co.za (brewery) or info@thechefschool.com (school)

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