The Tavern Tatler

News for the liquor trade

Best beers in Africa announced

Amid hot competition for the best beers on the African continent, eight Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) Africa brews were awarded trophies at the inaugural African Beer Cup in Cape Town.

Gold awards went to Botswana’s St Louis Lager in the Standard American Beer category, Swaziland’s Sibebe Lager in the International Lager category, South Africa’s Castle Milk Stout in the Dark British Beer category and Nigeria’s Hero Premium Lager in the Alternative Fermentable Beer category.

“It was exciting to be awarded all three spots in the hotly contested International Lager category, with Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Premium Lager and South Africa’s Carling Black Label claiming silver and bronze,” said Tshepo Tloubatla, SAB and AB InBev Africa's beer culture manager.

AB InBev’s Cape Town-based craft brewery Newlands Spring Brewing Co was awarded a bronze for Jacob’s Pale Ale in the British Bitter category as well as for the Passionate Blonde in the Belgian Ale category. 

The African Beer Cup, an annual competition that seeks to crown the continent’s best beers, was open to licenced, commercial breweries large and small, as long as the beers entered were brewed in Africa.

The African Beer Cup, an annual competition that seeks to crown the continent’s best beers, was open to licenced, commercial breweries large and small, as long as the beers entered were brewed in Africa. Entries were judged by a panel of judges who had completed the international Beer Judge Certification Programme. The competition was founded by local beer industry movers and shakers Lucy Corne, editor of On Tap Magazine and founder of, and Shaun Duthie, brewer and former president of the SouthYeasters Homebrew Club, out of a love for beer and a desire to nurture a stronger beer culture across the African continent.

“Beer has been an intrinsic part of African and South African culture for hundreds of years, bringing people together as they mark life’s special moments of celebration and contemplation, from the most remote rural settings to ekasi and the burbs,” said Tloubatla. “We are proud that our beers have been recognised among the continent's finest.”

AB InBev’s beers are expertly crafted by men and women who have spent years developing the distinct and unique ability to brew beer. “The level of technical skill used to formulate the perfect beer recipe is matched only by the brewer’s passion, quality of ingredients and love for beer. No two beer styles are alike and the breadth of our categories is celebrated by our passion to brew variety.”

Nothing covert about international spirits

When just about every dorp in South Africa is home to some sort of craft distillery, you’d be forgiven for thinking Douglas Oberwortmann and Ludgero Da Cruz were crazy for starting an import boutique liquor distribution business.

But Covert Distributions, specialising in unique premium spirits for a discerning market, separates itself from the clutter with its individual focus on each brand. The company is interested only in products that use the best possible ingredients with traceable routes.

The company only distributes spirits that have no hidden sugars, colourants, or flavourants, and its portfolio includes Brazilian Cachaça da Tulha, Scottish Arbikie Highland Estate gin and vodka and the United States' Richland Rum, all family-owned and run estates. In July, Mexico’s agave spirit Balam Mezcal will also form part of the Covert portfolio.

But in their quest for quality, Oberwortmann and Da Cruz have not overlooked local products. In the Western Cape, they are responsible for distributing a locally produced craft beer, Sharpeville Lager, owned by a family from Sharpeville and brewed by well-known female brewer Aphiwe Mawela. Mawela is also the first black South African to be certified as a beer judge in South Africa through the Beer Judge Certification Programme (BJCP).

“We believe consumers should be given the opportunity to drink better quality products. They are available and it’s our mission to find them and bring them to market. The spirits in our portfolio are 100% traceable from origin and are 100% field-to-bottle,” Oberwortmann said.

In a world that demands mass production resulting in lower quality, Covert Distributions is about transparency. “Our ethos is that while people should drink what they enjoy, they should also know what they are drinking. We believe in premium spirits that do not compromise on quality, ingredients, distillation methods or traditional ageing techniques.”

Female empowerment is important to the distributor. “We have a strong female presence across our spirits portfolio, whether that reflects in ownership and/or the distillation process.”

Da Cruz says: “We believe that if people care about what they eat, they should care about what they drink and how their favourite spirits are made and handled. We plan to grow our current markets as well as expand into other markets – especially in Southern Africa – while holding on to our core values through a select portfolio of non-competing brands that receive the personalised attention they deserve.”