Hops farming and craft brewing in The Garden Route.

Posted on Thu May 30, 2024.

Hops farming is a fascinating venture that combines agriculture and brewing.

The Hops plant comes from Northern Europe.The first hops was planted in South Africa by Jan van Riebeek in 1652 and the first beer was brewed in 1658.In the 1920s Ohlson’s Cape Brewery organized a competition to find the region that could supply 100 pounds of dried hops.The George area emerged as the winner.The farm Afgunst near Herold was purchased by Union Hop Growers in 1935.Union Hops Growers was a company started by Ohlson’s Breweries.

The area around George has a unique Mediterranean climate with almost no frost and plenty of rain and mild temperatures.Hops is planted in August and September.When the shoots appear they are strung up on trellises.The vines are trained by wrapping them clockwise around the trellises in order to permit rapid growth .Male and female flowers grow on separate plants.The female plants are used for beer production while the males are used for breeding.In January the hops is in full bloom and harvesting starts in February and March.The female flowers are used in the brewing process and this gives beer its bitter taste and aroma.

The Garden Route in South Africa is home to several delightful craft beer breweries. If you’re a beer enthusiast, here are some to explore.

Tsitsikamma Microbrewery is located in the Tsitsikamma Village and offers a unique selection of locally brewed beers on tap. They constantly experiment with new recipes and brewing methods, resulting in distinctive Tsitsikamma Craft Ale and Weiss flavours

A family-owned and operated establishment, Sedgefield Craft Brewery produces high-quality handcrafted beers. They use traditional brewing techniques and offer a range of six beers, including Blonde Ale, Irish Red Ale, India Pale Ale, Weiss beer, Porter, and the sought-after American Pale Ale, “Tiddly Tortoise.”

Based in Knysna, Red Bridge Brewing Co. specializes in hand-crafted small-batch beer. Named after the local Red Bridge that spans the Knysna River, they pride themselves on crafting beers using their South African-built equipment. Try the Ginger Beer 5% Alc or the Knysna Non Alc Golden Ale Brew.

Established in late 2012 in Mosselbay, South Cape Breweries introduced their first beer, Glenhoff Lager, and later expanded their range to include an Ale and Weiss beer.

Thornycreek Brewery and Red Bus Café is worth a visit .Situated in Kleinpoort between Herold and Oudtshoorn it offers a delightful outing over weekends.Definitely worth a try are the Imperial Stout and the Wild Honeybush Ale.

The Outeniqua Brew Co. is at  13 Montaque st., Blanco, right in the heart of Hops country.They use Hops from the local farmers to brew their own unique range of beer.The beers include Cliffside Lager,Woodlands Pale Ale and Black River Porter. Liquid Amber Red Ale is a seasonal beer brewed in Autumn.Then they also have another seasonal beer , Snowbird Lager, in summer.Also in the range is Six Peaks Pilsner in the Czech Pilsner style and Harvest IPA in the malty English style

Enjoy your beer-tasting adventure along the scenic Garden Route!  beer