Demand from micro-brewers keeps farms on hop

Hops expert Laurie Conway keeps watch as workers harvest on the 80ha Heidekruin hop farm near George
Hops expert Laurie Conway keeps watch as workers harvest on the 80ha Heidekruin hop farm near George

THE South African microbrewery market is booming, with experts attributing the craze to craft brewers experimenting with flavours.

This was revealed yesterday during the South African Breweries’ Heritage Tour which kicked off in George.

SAB Hop Farms, which is a subsidiary of SAB, owns three farms in the Southern Cape and has eight private hops growers meeting the demand from micro-brewers across the country.

Experts predict the market will continue to grow, with international interest having been shown.

The tour started at the George-based SAB Hop Farms head office, called Rob Roy, before the tour group was whisked away to one of the farms being harvested.

SAB Hop Farms general manager Lauren Steytler said that although the market was growing, micro-breweries only accounted for about 2% of their hops sales.

“Over the past 10 years we have seen growth from about 10 micro-breweries to the current 140 which we supply. These micro-breweries are meeting a demand that is growing in the beer culture,” she said on the 80ha Heidekruin hop farm.

-Gareth Wilson

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