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63 Useless Craft Beer Facts That Will Make You Feel Smarter ...

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63 Useless Craft Beer Facts That Will Make You Feel Smarter When You’re Drinking

League of Beers sommelier Rob Heyns gives us some of his favourite useless (but interesting) facts about international and South African craft beer

1. In 2010, the world’s oldest drinkable beer was found on a Baltic Sea shipwreck. The ship is believed to have sailed over 200 years ago.

2. Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass. Make sure you keep a well-stocked fridge.

3. Loxton Lager takes its name from the picturesque town of Loxton, which lies in the middle of the Karoo, where Loxton's special ingredients are sourced.

4. Yeast can only survive alcohol concentrations of 14% to 18%.

5. Devil’s Peak’s head-brewer, JC Steyn, used to make wine.

6. In ancient Egypt, workers living in Giza often received rations of beer three times a day as payment.

7. Jack Black Breweries is named after American brewmaster John Jack Black. 

8. Craft Beer is good for your bones! Beer has high levels of silicon, which promotes strong bones.

9. Beers that are released by big mega brewers that look like craft beers are termed "crafty beers”.

10. Currently, Red Sky is the only brewery in South Africa to serve gluten-free beer.

11. The United States is the second largest hop producer in the world (behind Germany).

12. In 2003, Hermanus’s Birkenhead Brewery had a delivery truck that had a very unusual slogan painted on it: “Birkenhead Beer - helping ugly people have sex since 1852''. The people of Hermanus went ballistic. There were threats of violence, stoning, boycotts and banning. The funny thing is people still, after 11 years, remember the truck, and the Birkenhead staff are often asked if they still have that truck. 

13. Frosty glasses will cause your beer to foam.

14. Everyone knows it, but few are prepared to admit it. Craft beer causes a considerable amount of flatulence. Even though the ‘air biscuits’ can be quite boisterous, they are usually very harmless ;-)

15. Karusa Brewery in Oudtshoorn started as a gap filler for the winery between the grape harvest season and winemaking season and then took off, much to their surprise!

16. Hops are poisonous to pets so keep a sharp eye on your pellets if you’re homebrewing.

17. According to legend, barrel-aged beers were created by accident when a whisky distillery tried to create a whisky finished with ale flavours.

18. Quills, a Durban-based brewery, took its name from all of the porcupines in the area when the brewer first bought his property.

19. Ancient Egyptian texts have been found that contain over 100 medicinal uses for beer.

20. In medieval Europe, the average person drank 220-250 litres of beer a year! As it had undergone fermentation, it was cleaner and safer to drink than the water.

21. In the 1600s, midwives created super-strong beer to ease the pain of labour!

22. The owners of Muizenberg’s Lakeside Beerworks began the brewery with less than R10 000 capital.

23. In 1850, Louis Pasteur studied beer. After finding it ‘was alive’, he invented pasteurization.

24. The first professional brewers were women.

25. Jack Black was founded by a husband and wife team and remains independently owned to this day - Ross did the deliveries and Meg took all the books, and the duo operated from a home office for the first year.

26. Vikings believed that when they died, a giant goat would be waiting for them. Of course, this goat’s udders had an unending supply of beer.

27. In the middle ages, children were encouraged to drink beer for nutritional benefits.

28. Durban’s Dam Wolf brewery’s name came about when the brewer was walking his dog (or his ‘best friend’) and saw a farm dam with lilies in it. The lilies were making the shape of a wolf head and thus “Dam Wolf” was born.

29. Storing bottled beer upright minimizes oxidation and contamination from the cap.

30. “Hangover” in Norwegian is directly translated to “carpenters in the head”.

31. Isohumulones are a type of alpha acid in hops that aid in head retention.

32. According to the head brewer at Loxton, the birdcall of the species Streptopelia capicola (the Cape Turtle Dove) is often rendered as "Drink Loxton...Drink Loxton..."

33. The term “rule of thumb” originates from brewers who would stick their thumb into the mix to see when the temperature was right for adding the yeast.

34. A jelly bean company called “Jelly Belly” recently introduced a ‘draft beer’ flavour that can be mixed with other jelly bean flavours to create a cocktail or shandy explosion in your mouth.

35. Lakeside Beerworks initially sold their beer with stamped-on labels. A few festivals paid for their official labels.

36. Hops have loads of health benefits and are supposed to help with joint inflammation, insomnia, respiratory spasms and indigestion. So drink up for your health!

37. Test batches for Devil’s Peak are still brewed in a 90-L system . . . no automation!

38. Tutankhamun Ale is a beer that is prepared in Cambridge according to a recipe that was discovered in the temple of Queen Nefertiti. It is one of the most expensive beers one can buy: about R550 a bottle!

39. All the beers from The Cockpit Brewhouse are named after WWI and WWII aeroplanes: Helles Belles, Fokker Weiss, Spitfire English Ale, Mustang American IPA, Black Widow Stout and Tigermoth Dubbel.

40. Brewers are known for being passionate and surprisingly superstitious. I know of a brewer overseas who dropped a screwdriver into his first brew by mistake. Now he drops it in every time.

41. Belgium has the most individual brands of beer found in any country. You’re looking at around 400 different brands!

42. The Babylonians were one of the first cultures to start brewing beer. To keep the quality of the commercial brews up, a law was passed that if your beer was seen as unfit or inferior, you were sentenced to drown in it.

43. The concept for Devil’s Peak Brewing Company was concocted after a long trip to the west coast of the United States by the directors.

44. A Beer Wave of 1.4m litres flooded London in 1814 after a huge vat carrying the equivalent of 3500 barrels of beer ruptured.

45. It is alleged that the longest hangover took place after a Scotsman drank just over 28 litres of beer. It is said his hangover lasted for 4 weeks.

46. Brewmeister’s Armageddon is the strongest beer in the world. Its alcohol content is around 65%.

47. Loxton Lager's recipe includes South African malt and hops, wild honey from the Southern Cape mountains and two fragrant indigenous herbs - both of which are revered for their health benefits.

48. Slugs and snails love beer! If you’re looking to rid your garden of these pests, put some beer in shallow containers at night.

49. The couple who started Red Sky Brewery chose the name because of the amazing sunsets they experienced together every evening over the Simonsberg mountains despite their long-distance relationship.

50. Adding some beer to your marinade is supposed to soften the meat. The acids in the beer go to work on the proteins in the meat, whether it’s cooked or uncooked.

51. You can use beer to shine up any old copper items.

52. All of Devil’s Peak’s spent grain is donated to a farmer in Muizenberg who uses it to feed his livestock.

53. The names of the beers from Karusa Brewery are a direct reflection of the area in which they are brewed (Oudtshoorn): The Long Neck Blonde(think of an ostrich), The Caveman (think of the Cango Caves) and The Zwartberger (think of the Swartberg range).

54. You can use beer as a conditioner. Apparently good quality brews will leave your locks silky and soft.

55. Each beer from the Devil’s Peak Founders Series is tied to the brewery’s namesake. The First Light is homage to the sunshine that hits the peak in the morning. The King’s Blockhouse is an ode to the structure that still stands proudly on the side of the mountain. Similarly,  Woodhead is a nod to the dam on Table Mountain, and Silvertree is in honour of the indigenous tree that is unique to the Cape Peninsula.

56. The sugar in beer is said to supercharge your plants. Beer sprinkler, anyone?

57. Lakeside Beerworks has two owners and one employee. That means this garage-start-up still has only three employees!

58. Yeast in beer converts into two things: ethanol (which attributes to the drunk feeling) and CO2 (which makes the bubbles).

59. Beer is stored in darker bottles as exposure to light will spoil the brew. In South Africa, green bottles are associated with premium beers, while in fact, these beers are prone to get "light struck". Brown bottles are better for beer.

60. The brewers at Red Sky choose beer names by researching iconic airplanes and their general role in history. If the description fits the beer... the name is a winner!

61. Craft brewers use adjuncts to enhance flavour, while mega brewers add adjuncts to reduce flavour.

62. Not all “malts” contain gluten. Many people think that a malt is a gluten-based product, but any grain can be "malted". Gluten-free grains included maize, sorghum and rice, amongst others.

63. Jacques, the brewer at Karusa Brewery, brews his beer according to this motto: “There is a fine line between craft beer and crap beer. Murphy's law should be prioritized firstly within the making of craft beer and then within anything else on earth.

About the author:

Rob Heyns is the resident beer sommelier at the League of Beers  – an online retailer of craft beer in South Africa. He is passionate about craft beer, supporting local brewers and providing South Africans with new craft beers to tickle their palates.

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Cape Town homebrewers are putting their best beer forward at the SouthYeaster Summerfest.

Good old honest, Belgian-inspired beer at Hey Joe Brewing Co.

Love craft beer but think it's too pricey to drink? Read on to find out why Rob Heyns thinks we should stomach the high cost of craft and enjoy anyway.

Get good grub and support the spirit of Ubuntu at the same time at RobinHood Burger & Grill in Kloof Street.

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