College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

UKZN’s Hawaiian-Style Beer Packs a Punch at SAB Intervarsity Beer Brewing Competition

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Teams from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses once again participated in the South African Breweries (SAB) Intervarsity Brewing Competition 2018, held in Bloemfontein and hosted by the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Central University of Technology (CUT).

Dr Charles Hunter, who was among those who initiated the first intervarsity brewing competition in 2008, oversaw the Pietermaritzburg team at this year’s competition. Competition veteran Mr Matthew van Wyngaard, a Doctoral candidate in Plant Pathology, led the 2018 brewing team and was joined by three members from the Discipline of Microbiology, Master’s candidate Mr Truly Mjelo, Honours student Mr Danvir Ramesar and PhD candidate Ms Heather Tredgold. Mr Siphelele Sibisi led the Westville team.

Participation involved universities from around South Africa entering their four best brews for judging by an accredited panel. Tredgold explained that the style categories this year were lager, speciality Belgian, fruit beer, and the Winter Warmer. The Pietermaritzburg team scored well in each category; they received first place for their fruit beer and placed second for their “Rough Beast” imperial stout in the Winter Warmer category. Judges scored two of the Westville team’s entries highly, and they were popular with the crowd at the competition.

The winning fruit beer, “Hawaiian Death Punch”, was inspired by a cocktail Ramesar had tasted and was an American-style wheat beer with pineapple, lime, and chilli.

Other winning universities included CUT, Rhodes University, and the Universities of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Limpopo; the University of Cape Town won best beer overall.

‘We are thrilled to have once again performed well amongst some very capable contenders with advanced brewing systems at their disposal, said van Wyngaard. ‘Our system is small-volume and simple in comparison, but this has consistently worked in our favour for the last three competitions. We’ve placed among various categories’ top three for several brews and won the Belgian category in 2016.’

The Pietermaritzburg microbrewing system resides in the Discipline of Microbiology, and is put to good use teaching the multifaceted nature of brewing to postgraduate students.

‘Earlier this year each of the the Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Genetics Honours groups brewed a beer as part of their orientation,’ said Tredgold. ‘Brewing is a great ice-breaker and demonstrates the various aspects of a process in which the three Disciplines’ skills are applicable. In the past, we’ve had students from Chemistry, Chemical Technology, Biochemistry and Engineering join our Intervarsity brewing teams; it really is a multidisciplinary activity.’

‘We would love to see a real brewing community established here at UKZN,’ said Hunter. ‘The opportunity to create some truly unique beers far outweighs the hard work the brewing process involves, and it means more than just drinking the beer at the end of the day. There is room for real creativity, and with the South African craft beer movement continually expanding, we see more students and consumers becoming educated and excited about the array of beer styles that are out there.’

The team thanked SAB and Anheuser-Busch InBev for continuing with the competition tradition.

Words: Heather Tredgold and Christine Cuénod

Photograph supplied by Heather Tredgold