The Brewmistress – Crafting a niche in beer!

Brew – noun: A drink (beer) made by brewing.

Mistress – noun: A woman in a position of authority or control.

Yes, such an anomaly does exist – and the local craft beer industry sure is lucky to have her! Her name is Lucy Corne and she has, over the last 7 or so years, built up a reputation as the foremost voice in the South African craft beer industry.

The Brewmistress – stirring up the local craft beer industry

Originally from the UK, Lucy has spent time living and travelling in a number of countries, which include Canada and North and South Korea, prior to settling down in Cape Town. It was whilst in these countries (and, of course, in her native UK) that Lucy developed a love for craft beer. Her work as a travel writer brought her to our shores in 2010, right at the time when craft beer became the new it-drink for beer lovers.

In 2011, she collaborated with the owner of Banana Jam Café (which has one of Cape Town’s most extensive craft beer selections) on The Craft Beer Project. This online publication became a leading news portal for all things craft beer-related and soon brought Lucy into contact with publishers looking for somebody to write a book telling the story of South African craft beer.

In 2013 her first book, “African Brew” was published to great acclaim. After her time with The Craft Beer Project, Lucy decided to give it a full go, on her own, and in 2014 The Brewmistress was born.

Lucy enjoying a leisurely glass of beer while on her travels

By the time Lucy had her second book, “Beer Safari”, published to great reviews in 2015, she was firmly established as South Africa’s premier craft beer aficionado. This was confirmed when, in 2018, she was selected as a judge by the organisers of the World Beer Cup held in Nashville, Tennessee.

This bi-annual event (held in May) showcases the best that the world of craft brewers have to offer. This was a massive accolade and, if that wasn’t enough, in her spare time in the US she passed an examination to become Africa’s only qualified Cicerone!

“What is a Cicerone?” you might be asking. To put it simply, a Cicerone is to beer what a Sommelier is to wine.

Being very passionate about being able to pass on the knowledge which she has learned over the years, Lucy is continuing to run various courses which include the following:

  1. BEER 101 – STAFF TRAINING

Know your wine but baffled about beer? As craft beer continues to sweep South Africa, bars and restaurants are bulking up their beer lists, offering more hops, more variety, and more options for food pairings. And as beer gets bigger, the beer consumer becomes more demanding.

Do your staff know their IBUs from their ABVs? Can they tell a brown ale from an amber lager? Can they recommend the perfect pairing for a plate of salmon or a spicy curry?

If not, it’s time to sign them up for a Beer 101 course. Beer writer Lucy Corne presents a 90-minute training session to get bartenders, servers or managers up to speed on beer. The session includes:

  • A brief history of beer – worldwide and in South Africa
  • Sniff, taste and touch the ingredients and learn how they influence the final flavour of the beer
  • A basic look at brewing– how malt and hops are transformed into liquid gold
  • Pouring the perfect pint – dos and don’ts of pouring both draught and bottled beer
  • When beer goes bad – recognising off flavours and working out what the problem is
  • Tutored tasting– what to look for and how to describe beers to customers
  • Intro tofood and beer pairing – an overview of how to match food and beer, which can be tailored to your menu and beer selection
  1. BREWING BEYOND THE BASICS

Brewing Beyond the Basics covers every step of the brewing process, starting with an in-depth look at each of the ingredients. Guest speakers from local breweries explain how to get the most from your malt, hops, water and yeast. Day one ends with an introduction to the BJCP, including a tasting session and a look at off-flavours and brew troubleshooting.

On day two it’s time to brew. Follow every step of the process as the Afro-Caribbean Brewing Company takes you through a full brew on their 120-litre system, in the all-new upstairs brewbar at Banana Jam Cafe. Each stage will be explored in-depth, with troubleshooting tips and information on different methods of mashing, sparging and cooling, plus demos on bottling and kegging. Following a food and beer pairing lunch, we’ll turn our attention to the logistics and legalities of opening your own microbrewery, including licence applications, red tape and sourcing equipment. Day two ends with a BYOB tasting and peer review.

On day three we’re off on an excursion! We visit a local microbrewery for a tour and a look at storing and serving beer before sitting down to lunch and a pub quiz.

  1. KNOW YOUR BEER

Know Your Beer is a fun, interactive and informative evening course to help you get better acquainted with the beer in your glass.

One evening a week, meet up with like-minded ale-aficionados at the upstairs brewbar of one of Cape Town’s top craft beer hangouts, Banana Jam Cafe.

Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:

Week 1:

How beer is made, ingredients, tasting beer, lager vs pilsner, brief history of beer

Week 2:

Wheat, wit and Weiss, reinheitsgebot vs reinheitsgenot, herbs & spices in beer

Week 3:

Lager vs ale, blonde ale vs pale ale, cause & effect food-pairing, troubleshooting

Week 4:

Hops! IPA – the story and the myths, English vs American IPA, blind tasting challenge

Week 5:

Malt – the malting process, malt tasting, dark beers, porter vs stout, off-flavours

Week 6:

Beer & cheese pairing, focus on Belgian beers, blind tasting including off-flavours, quiz and certificates

For more information on these courses, please visit www.brewmistress.co.za. The courses are designed for people in the industry as well as for those of us who just love everything about craft beer and who want to learn more – and who better to learn from?!

Finally – on behalf of Burger Brews and all the other craft beer-loving South Africans – we wish to thank Lucy for her ongoing contributions to our craft beer industry and for being a big part of where it is today. All hail The Brewmistress!

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