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08 December 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
At the BJCP beer judging competition, Dr Errol Cason won Best of Show with his Belgian Saison. Here he is presenting at the AfricaBrew2020 Brewing conference.

Staff and students from the University of the Free State (UFS) once again proved their skills in beer homebrewing when they walked away with one first place and two second places at the 13th annual Anheuser-Busch Inbev (AB-Inbev) – formally South African Breweries (SAB) – intervarsity beer brewing and tasting competition, and the Beer Judging Certification Programme (BJCP) competition held at the AfricaBrew2020 Brewing conference. Both these events took place over the weekend of 27 and 28 November 2020.

Evil Twin Double and Three Sips German 

Competing in the AB-Inbev/SAB Intervarsity brewing and tasting competition, was a group of students from the UFS Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, consisting of Eduvan Bischoff (PhD student), Elzette van der Walt (MSc student), Culien van der Merwe (MSc student), Gunther Staats (MSc student), and Twyne Skein (MSc student). This team came second in both the Indian Pale Ale (IPA) category with their Evil Twin Double IPA and in the Lager category with their Three Sips German Pils. 

“This is an outstanding accomplishment. Congratulations also go to our fellow Free Stater’s at the Central University of Technology (CUT) for winning the India Pale Ale (IPA) category as well as best overall beer with their New England IPA,” commented Dr Errol Cason, Senior Lecturer in the UFS Department of Animal Science, also representing the liquid yeast company LiquidCulture Yeast.

According to Dr Cason, this SAB-sponsored competition sees students from local universities brew and enter beers for judging, and competing for prizes, including the coveted ‘Best of Show’ trophy. 

“This event also aims to promote beer culture along with responsible drinking, by hosting talks by industry experts where students can interact with commercial brewers, scientists, and marketers,” says Dr Cason. 

The event was hosted by South African Breweries (SAB) and CUT, through the Centre for Applied Food Sustainability and Biotechnology (CAFSaB), in association with the UFS. 

Although the event was moved online in 2020 due to the international pandemic, it did not mean that there was a decline in the quality of presentations, or in the beer entered by universities. – D r Errol Cason

Dr Cason explains that entrants are usually challenged to brew beers according to the 2015 Beer Judge Certification Programme (BJCP) guidelines in lager, IPA, winter warmer, and fruit beer categories. 

“This year included the African Premium Ale and Lockdown Brew categories as well, where teams were mostly left to invent and experiment on their own with a few rules, such as using only indigenous African ingredients or ingredients that were available in supermarkets during lockdown,” says Dr Cason. 

There is also an award for the best bottle dress (label). 

Dr Cason believes that although the event was moved online in 2020 due to the international pandemic, it did not mean that there was a decline in the quality of presentations, or in the beer entered by universities. 

Belgian Saison and Extra Special Bitter

He and Christopher Rothmann, who is busy with a PhD in Biotechnology at the UFS and is co-founder of the company LiquidCulture (LC) Yeast, attended and presented at the AfricaBrew2020 Brewing conference. AfricaBrew is an annual brewing conference specialising in workshops and demonstrations for home and professional brewers. 

Accompanying the conference is a BJCP beer judging competition where all home and professional brewers can enter beers. During this competition, Dr Cason won Best of Show with his Belgian Saison. Rothmann came second with his Extra Special Bitter.

Since LiquidCulture Yeast was found in 2018, this commercial venture has since spun out and are now providing liquid brewing yeast to the homebrewing and commercial brewing industry. Rothmann and Dr Cason are also founding members of the Kovsie Brewery (along with Dr Jan-G Vermeulen and Eduan Hellmuth), which is currently being constructed on the UFS Paradys Experimental Farm facility.

News Archive

First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence
2017-06-07

Description:First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence Tags: First-year wellbeing a top priority at Harmony residence

Ladies from the House Harmony, a unique residence
that focuses on first-years’ experience.
Photo: Supplied

A unique residence that focuses on first-years’ experience, is exactly what Harmony sets out to provide for all first-year students at the University of the Free State.

A residence focusing on mentoring

Entering the adult world can be a daunting experience, but Harmony, unlike other residences on campus, focuses on mentoring. Harmony came to life in 2014 and has assisted many first-years in adapting to the university environment.

According to Pulane Malefane, Residence Head of House Harmony, they have witnessed a significant change in the pass rate of first-year students. “We have realised that first-years gain confidence much quicker than in other residences where they still need to find their way around seniors,” she says.

Adapting to the varsity environment

Harmony makes use of a Residence Assistants (RA) system, not Residence Committees (RC). The RA stay in corridors with their mentees in order to have close contact with them. An RA’s primary role is to be a mentor to first-years and also expose them to different co-curriculum activities on campus. They assist them in adapting to the varsity environment quicker, so as to be able to focus and concentrate on their academics.

Nicole Rabe, RA First-years, says the Harmony belles never cease to amaze her. “Watching these first-years grow from the high school girls that arrived at the start of this year, to the independent women they are now, has truly been a blessing.”

Malefane mentions that they intentionally try to place students from one faculty in the same corridor. In that way, mentors and residence assistants are in close proximity to them. “We have study rooms in each and every corridor of Harmony, making it easy for students to study close to their rooms at any time,” she says.

Phathutshodzo Nekhavanmbe, a first-year LLB student, says she could not have asked for a better house to be placed in. “The Harmony experience has been great so far, as the people living there are approachable and eager to lend a helping hand.”

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