This past weekend brewing teams form 17 tertiary institutions gathered in Bloemfontein at the Central University of Technology (CUT) Free State to compete in the Intervarsitybrew: Brewing & Tasting Challenge 2023. This is the 16th year of the competition and it has become a set fixture on the beer calendar.

The competition aims to encourage young people to pursue a career within the age-old tradition of brewing, with this year’s event co-hosted by the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) and the Central University of Technology (CUT) Free State, through CAFSaB and the CUT Hotel School, and also sponsored by HEINEKEN Beverages, South African Breweries (SAB), the Craft Brewers Association of South Africa (CBASA), Lallemand Brewing and FoodBev Manufacturing SETA.

The team from the University of Cape Town won Best Beer on Show for their American IPA, named Public OutCryo. The team describes their IPA as “an explosion of hops and a balance of bitterness.” Member of the team, Nicole Uys, says: “We have been a female-led team for the past couple of years and very proud of it.” UCT also won Best Beer on Show at last year’s Intervarsitybrew.

All 17 teams were challenged to create brews in specific categories that were evaluated according to the international Beer Judge Certification Programme (BJCP) guidelines. The category winners were:

  • Best IPA: University of Cape Town (Public OutCryo – American IPA)
  • Best Sour Beer: Central University of Technology (CUT) (Champopo – Berliner Weisse)
  • Best African Wild Ale: Stellenbosch University (Chimera – Italian Grape Ale)
  • Best Aged Beer: Central University of Technology (CUT) (Grumpy Old Goat – Old Ale)
  • Best Lager: University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg (SANDZ Lager – American Lager)
  • Best Low-Alcohol (Summer) Beer: 1000 Hills Chef School (Ed Sheeran’s Foot – Catharina Sour)

The award for the best bottle label design went to the team from Rhodes University for their Inombe, a Hazy IPA. This year’s Mentorship Award went to Errol Cason from the University of the Free State for the exceptional warmth and wisdom with which he motivates his students. All teams have brewing mentors that guide them in the complicated craft of brewing good beer.

Zoleka Lisa, board member of the Beer Association of South Africa and the Vice President of Corporate Affairs at South African Breweries (SAB) congratulated all the winners. “The Intervarsitybrew is such an important platform for the beer industry to come together to celebrate its rich heritage and culture. The students are so inspiring. We celebrated while placing emphasis on responsible drinking, with everybody aware of how important mindful alcohol consumption is. That is also why BASA, apart from other support, has sponsored a special award for best low-alcohol beer. It is all about creativity, innovation, moderation and bringing people together.”

Over three days the teams gathered not only to compete, but to share their knowledge and experiences of brewing. Activities included tastings, lectures, presentations and career guidance. The students come from the fields of food science, microbiology, biochemistry, biotechnology, environmental health and engineering. They were all exposed to the impressive breadth of the beer industry. Research show that the beer industry supports 248 000 jobs in South Africa in one form or another. This represents 1 in every 66 jobs in the country.

Competition coordinator, Olga de Smidt from the CUT’s Centre for Applied Food Sustainability and -Biotechnology (CAFSaB), thanked all the teams for their dedication. “The entrants continue to impress us every year with their energy and talent. Their passion for the craft inspires everyone who attends Intervarsitybrew. The students take so much pride in the products they’ve developed. Although there is serous competitive rivalry, there is also always the sense of a beer community truly coming together to better their craft, make connections and have fun.”