iBhiya - A new Xhosa-inspired craft beer from Makhanda

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Thursday, 13th January 2022

Fresh from being crowned as one of the participating breweries in Eastern Cape Tourism's only Eastern Cape Craft Brewing, Distilling and Wine Route, owner of Featherstone Brewery and Entrepid Brewing William Yell says he has always been passionate about exploring both craft beer making and homebrews and taking it to the next level.

After moving from Johannesburg to the current location of Featherstone Brewery and Entrepid Brewing at Aloe and Elephant lodge just outside Makhanda, Yell said he was fortunate to find someone to teach him how to brew traditional umqombothi as everyone has their own unique process.

“Sour beers have been gaining in popularity in the craft industry so my idea was to merge these two concepts together and create something local by fusion of modern beer brewing and traditional methods,” he said.

iBhiya is an African umqombothi/sorghum wheat beer using 20% Authentic African umqombothi sour mash added to African sorghum/wheat beer, finished with South African Hops and Honey then fermented with beer yeast. The Ingredients are all South African. The name came about when Yell started matching isiXhosa translations for beer terminology and the only word for beer was iBhiya which represented the concept of this innovative blend quite well.

He explained that this modern brew is produced in a similar way to the craft brewing process he normally follows but the additional step of making the umqombothi mash and its uniquely beautiful taste is what makes it different.

“The sorghum, maize meal and flaked maze is mixed together in warm water and sours overnight. The next day, the strained umqombothi is then added to the beer brew and ‘cooked’ before fermenting,” he said, adding that the fermentation is a bit faster than normal as the alcohol is lower than standard beers - about 3.5% only slightly more than umqombothi on its own.

“It’s a blend of modern beer somewhat hazy and slightly sour with the earthy taste of sorghum,” Yell added.

According to Yell, craft beer trends are moving towards sour beers which makes iBhiya a perfect choice for those wanting to explore different craft beer flavours that are slightly sour but steeped in tradition.

You can get a taste of iBhiya by joining Featherstone Brewery and Entrepid Brewing as well as Makana Tourism at a Craft Beer Crawl on Saturday, 5 February in appreciation of local Craft Beers. Learn more here.

A limited edition of iBhiya will also be available at Olde 65 on 65 New Street.

Check out Featherstone Brewery’s online sales channel where you can get the perfect craft beer online shopping experience, wherever you are. You can visit the online shop on: www.featherstonebrewery.co.za/shop.

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