AFRICA – The title of the Best Beer in Africa in 2023 goes to South Africa-based Richmond Hill Brewing which emerged top at the recently concluded 2023 African Beer Cup.
The company’s beer, a dark ale aged in Shiraz barrels with raspberries and peaches, grabbed a gold medal and then wowed the best of show judges, beating 231 other beers in the competition.
The Africa Beer Cup is the biggest beer competition on the continent attracting participation from over 20 countries in Africa.
Now in its fourth year, the competition saw 52 judges from 16 different countries join forces to evaluate 232 beers from 20 different African countries.
A total of 60 medals were awarded at an awards night held on 22 April at Woodstock Brewery in Cape Town.
South Africa dominated the list with 44 medals followed by Namibia (4), Ghana (3), Botswana (2), Kenya (2), Tanzania (2), Zambia (1), and Uganda (1).
The African Beer Cup is unique in that every beer in the competition is judged twice. All judging is blind, with judges knowing the beer style but not the manufacturer or beer name.
Beers are judged to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines, which focus on stylistic accuracy rather than personal preference.
Beers must reach a certain score threshold in order to be considered for a medal, with a maximum of one gold, one silver, and one bronze per category.
There were 30 different categories this year which ranged from IPA, Belgian, and Monastic Ales to British, Fruit, and Specialty Beers.
The 13 gold medallists went head-to-head in a Best of Show round to determine the Best Beer in Africa. Rather than a trophy, the winner receives a custom painting to celebrate their win.
This year’s painting was created by Eastern Cape artist Chanel Louise Gardner, whose work focuses on using upcycled materials – very apt since the painting was unveiled on Earth Day.
“The African Beer Cup has quickly become the most prestigious beer competition in Africa,” says Richmond Hill’s founder and brewer Niall Cook.
“To have a beer collect an award in the competition is an amazing achievement, however to further walk away with the Best Beer in Africa Award for 2023 is on another level!”
As well as medals and the overall prize, special recognition is awarded to a beer that showcases traditional African ingredients in a beer.
The 2023 BASA African Celebration Award, sponsored by the Beer Association of South Africa, was awarded to Soul Barrel Brewing, based in the Cape Winelands, for their African Wild Soul, a collaboration with Tolokazi Beer.
The beer is a blend of farmhouse ale and umqombothi (traditional sorghum beer), aged in wine barrels for two years.
Soul Barrel, who won the Best Beer in Africa in 2022, specialize in championing local ingredients and brewing traditions in their beers.