As one of the early adopters of craft beer brewing in South Africa, Darling Brew have been pioneering the craft beer revolution for almost a decade. Once again, they will be bringing their range of favourites and some special treats to D’Vine Life at Cape Town HOMEMAKERS Expo.

We spoke to owner, Philippa Wood to find out more about the journey.

How did Darling Brew start?

My husband and I had resigned from our jobs to embark on an epic road trip, which ended up being 34000kms and 9 months long. On day 3 of this trip we went to Nieu-Bethesda and met a small scale brewer for the first time. We already lived in Darling and when we came home, we came home with a plan. 2 years later after blood, sweat, tears and arms full of red tape we sold our first beer.

Darling Brew
Darling Brew Founders, Kevin and Philippa Wood. Photo supplied.

What makes Darling Brew so popular and different?

Kevin loves branding and has a very good eye. He is somewhat of a bunny hugger and we have named all our beers after endangered animals. It started off as an idea and it has really worked for us. We have a very conscious sustainability journey in our brewery and the match between our passion for what we do, our story and our brand turned out epically. I also think that along the way people have met us, seen our brand, heard our story… it is a true story and I believe that people like to support real brands with a real story and that is us.

Why do you think craft beer has had such an explosion in popularity?

Craft beer started getting attention in about 2010. We were part of the first kids off the starting block of the craft beer revolution in SA and it was really about amazing timing for us. At the same time artisanal markets made a rising and consumers starting asking for local, traditionally made products. The boom on artisanal products was really were attention turned to beer and a whole new industry surfaced in SA

Where does the inspiration for your brews come from?

Our brands are inspired by endangered animals which has always been a passion of ours. The inspiration for the beer itself comes from a combination of styles of beers. Our brewing team and ourselves get a lot of exposure to locally sourced products that we like to experiment with.

What trends are you seeing/setting at the moment?

It is all about sustainability… moving to locally sourcing and as little carbon footprint as possible, recycling. We were named Africa’s first carbon neutral brewery in 2017 and in July 2019 we received our green star rating (first brewery in South Africa) from the South African green building council.

Another beer trend is cans, which is happening now in SA. It’s lots of fun having a new space to brand and again a more environmentally friendly product. Some super fun and funky stuff happening in the canned beer space.

Which craft beer is the most popular and which one do you recommend people try?

Slow beer was our first beer and is still our biggest seller. Mainly because us South Africans love a lager. I usually recommend that if someone is trying a Darling Brew for the first time they start with a slow beer. Everyone loves it and if they try something from our more radical range first they might not be sold and may never drink a db again… so we like to ease people into the craft beer way of life. If someone is a big crafter then we jump right in with some of our radical winners like our Blood Serpent or a limited edition like our Marula Noir Bone Crusher!

The theme for this year is Raw Comfort, what does Raw Comfort mean to you?

Raw for me means getting things back to basics… it is winter fires, good food with good comfortable in simple but beautiful spaces.

Which craft beers will be available on tap and for purchase at HOMEMAKERS Expo?

We will have our core favourites like slow beer and bone crusher and then will keep the guests wanting more with some of our specialities like our Black Mist Orange.

Why did Darling Brew get involved with HOMEMAKERS Expo again this year?

As part of our sustainable journey we re-purposed the wooden crates that transported our brewhouse by ship in 2015 to build our Tasteroom at the brewery in Darling. We created part of this look at HOMEMAKERS and people loved it, always very special for us to bring part of Darling to the city. We are very proud of our brand. HOMEMAKERS is great exposure for us, and with all that walking from inspiring stand to inspiring stand folks get thirsty!

Don’t miss Darling Brew in D’Vine Life at the 2019 Cape Town HOMEMAKERS Expo from 29 August to 1 September 2019 at the CTICC. Get your tickets at Quicket here.