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Soul Barrel Brewing Tops in Africa

Soul Barrel brewer Devin Kendricks accepted the award for Best Beer in Africa 2022.

Simondium brewery Soul Barrel Brewing has taken the top spot in the 2022 African Beer Cup, Africa’s biggest beer competition. The brewery took the coveted title of Best Beer in Africa with their Live Culture Grand Cru, which beat 250 entries from 14 different African countries.

“Winning Best Beer in Africa is one of the most significant accomplishments a brewery can achieve in Africa,” says Soul Barrel founder and brewer Nick Smith.  “The African Beer Cup is the most competitive, intense beer competition on the continent with some of the best judges in the world.  We are so proud to have won with a beer that features our very own malt and hops as well as fynbos from our garden.  We believe in South African agriculture and winning best beer in Africa with a beer that’s brewed with 100% local ingredients is a testament to that.”

Live Culture Grand Cru is a barrel-aged farmhouse ale fermented with wild yeast native to the Simondium-based brewery.  It was brewed with barley from Caledon alongside citrus, fynbos and hops grown in Soul Barrel’s beer garden.  “We’ve always felt this is one of the best beers we’ve ever brewed,” says Nick. “This award confirms that.”

The judges described the beer as utterly spectacular and commended it’s complex, champagne-like character with flavours of lemon, peach and wildflower honey.

This was the third year of the competition and the first time that international judges were invited to join. Judges from 16 different countries evaluated the 251 entries over three days in May. The winners were announced on 14 May at a joyous awards evening held in Cape Town.

“We want to elevate the competition to be in line with other international competitions,” says African Beer Cup founder Lucy Corne. “And inviting extremely experienced, highly respected beer industry experts from around the world is crucial for our competition. It’s the first time any beer competition in Africa has welcomed such highly esteemed judges.”

The competition is judged according to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines, which focus on stylistic accuracy rather than personal preference. Beers must reach a certain score threshold in order to be considered for a medal, with a maximum of one gold, one silver and one bronze per category.  The gold medallists then went head-to-head in a Best of Show round to determine the Best Beer in Africa.

Text: Editorial Desk | Image: Marla Burger Photography