Ahead of Capital Craft Beer Festival we interview brewmaster at The Cockpit Brewhouse, Andre de Beer, discussing what it was that got him into brewing, his relationship with music and what to expect at Capital Craft Beer Festival.
How long have you been a brewer and what was it that made you want to brew your own beer?
I started brewing in 2002 as a hobby, mainly because there was a very limited variety of beers available and my taste-buds craved for more. I took the leap and started brewing commercially in 2010.
What was your beer of choice before your started to brew your own?
Like I said, the variety was very limited in those days, but I used to love (and still do love) Drayman’s Goblins Bitter and Pilsner Urquell.
Do you have any type of formal training in brewing science or art? If not, how did you learn the craft?
I’ve got no formal training (other than being a BJCP national beer judge). I learned my craft through endless hours on the internet, reading every book on the subject I could get hold of and making a real nuance of my self with the stalwarts of the homebrewing community including guys like Moritz Kalmeyer, Mike Heydenrych and Jeremy Wallis.
What would you say separates craft beer from mass produced beer? What is it that makes craft beer better?
I might get some flack for this, but craft beer is not necessarily better than mass produced beers. Most, if not all, mass produced beers are technically excellent. But, craft beer offers you variety. Craft beer is usually not brewed with much regard to the cost of the ingredients, but rather to be a complex, flavoursome and unique product. Unfortunately, being labelled as “craft beer” is not necessarily a guarantee of quality. Let your taste-buds be your guide.
What will be available from Cockpit Brewhouse at Capital Craft and will there be any special brews for the event?
My regular line-up includes Helles Belles Blond Ale, Fokker Hefe-Weizen, Spitfire English Ale, Mustang American IPA and Black Widow Stout. We will also have a few surprises, including our ever popular Fokker Strawberry Weiss and maybe a real winter warmer – Antonov Oil – a Russian Imperial Stout at 10% ABV
What is the weirdest ingredient you have ever put in beer?
I might be locked up if I admit it here 😉
What is the best meal accompaniment to beer?
To be honest, any meal is better with a beer! A few good examples are a green Thai curry with a hoppy IPA, creamy steamed mussels with a Weiss or even a rich chocolate dessert with a full bodied Stout.
Eric Clapton and John Lee Hooker are some of your favourites when brewing. Are there any local artists you particularly enjoy listening to?
Other than being a brewpub, we are also a live music venue, with performances every Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I’ve got a huge passion for local music. From the well known artists like Dan Patlansky, Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart and Piet Botha, to the ‘soon to be well known’ artists like Roan van As, Dawie de Jager, Meyrand Roux and more. The quality of local talent is amazing!
For those not so familiar with the craft, what would you say separates a great beer from a good beer?
Only one thing – your own taste-buds! Taste as far and wide as possible and make up your own mind.