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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

Researcher takes home gold at international Famelab competition
2017-06-26

Description: Famelab competition Tags: Famelab competition

UFS researcher nabbed a top international award for
her ground-breaking metallurgical research in the UK.
Photo: Supplied

Recently, University of the Free State (UFS) Centre for Environmental Management master’s student, Tshiamo Legoale, was announced the FameLab International champion at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom. She is probing methods to use wheat as a gold hyper-accumulator – or, as she puts it, “grow gold from wheat”. The young researcher made South Africa proud by winning both the audience’s and the judges’ vote.

Coming back home a hero
“Winning was a surprise to me, because all 31 contestants had wonderful research. They all had really good presentations. I’m very grateful for all the support that I received from home. Social media showed me a lot of love and support. When I felt unconfident, they gave me ‘likes’ and that boosted my confidence a bit,” said Legoale about her win.

As South Africa celebrates Youth Month in June, Tshiamo represents hope for thousands of young South Africans to overcome difficult circumstances and follow careers in science.

The human impact is crucial, because Legoale’s win is not only scientific. It is also social and political. As a young female scientist in South Africa, she represented one of three African countries making it to the finals of FameLab, which has grown to one of the largest science communication competitions internationally.

With this in mind, Legoale says it may, in the end, be necessary to balance the needs of communities with the desire to increase yield. “Are we looking to make a fortune or are we looking to put food on the table?” she asks. “These are all things we consider when we conduct such research.”

World-class research from Africa
In South Africa, an estimated 17.7 million tons of gold is wasted. “All this gold was mined out previously, but tiny amounts remain in the dumps,” Legoale explains.

Her research focuses on the uses of wheat as a gold hyper-accumulator, which essentially means wheat plants are used to harvest gold from mine dumps. Simply put, the wheat is planted in the dumps, where enzymes found in the roots react with the gold and the plant absorbs it. The gold is then absorbed by every part of the plant, except the seeds, which means the next harvest can be used for food if need be.

“South Africa's world-champion young scientist, Tshiamo, represents all that is good about this country – brilliant, bright, and set for a fine future. I'm so proud that British Council SA, together with our partners SAASTA and Jive Media Africa, can help her along the way. Huge congratulations to her from all of us – it is a big win for Africa on the world stage,” said Colm McGivern, British Council South Africa Country Director.

The research represents a win on multiple levels. First, there are the obvious potential socio-economic benefits: food production, job creation, and phytomining is more economical than other contemporary mining methods.

Then there is safety. It is a more environmentally friendly practice than methods like heap leaching, carbon-in-leach or carbon-in-pulp. It is also safer for miners themselves, who will not be exposed to dangerous chemicals like mercury, which has been responsible for a great deal of toxicity in mine dumps. And it is safer for those living in the surrounds.

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