An African Adventure – October 2007
In October 2007 we left home on a trip into Africa, with the idea to see as much wildlife as possible, our return date undecided.
Unexpectedly 3 days into our trip we stumbled onto an idea that we thought we could bring back to Darling. We met Andre of Sneeuberg Brewery and were inspired by the concept of a microbrewery. Leaving South Africa we found ourselves talking about something we knew little about, beer.
Besides wildlife we now had another goal; exploring the different beers of each country we visited. We were expecting to be exposed to varied and interesting beer and branding but what we had not expected was the increase in the size of beer bottles. Having started with 340ml in Botswana, 630ml in Zimbabwe, 550ml in Mozambique, 500ml in Kenya and 750ml in Rwanda our beer drinking appetites had gradually grown the further north we travelled and the hotter it got.
Turning south into Zambia the dinky 340ml bottle reappeared, one bottle feeling like half of another and leaving us still wanting. The realisation of our beer in a big bottle was decided.
A Thing Called Beer
Returning home was daunting as all our thoughts and ideas had to be turned into a reality, a thing called beer. Our excitement had been shadowing the realisation of what lay ahead. We were prepared for hard work but the challenges of red tape, we didn’t see coming.
Our investment began to take shape in the form of a small turnkey brewery. After months of brewing, no hint of our liquor licence and faced with the challenges of a manual system we realised that with our current setup we would never reach our dreams for Darling Brew.
We were on the verge of throwing in the towel when we by chance met Chris Barnard, a chief brewer, who agreed to contract brew for us. Chris’ knowledge and passion for brewing beer has afforded Darling Brew the privilege of becoming part of the current craft beer movement.
The Exciting Part of Branding our Beer
When we got to the exciting part of branding our beer, we wanted to create a contemporary look. We scoured through the flora and fauna of the area, as well as the geographical features. We kept on coming back to the tortoise and on doing some research we learnt of the geometric tortoise which was not only endangered but it was endemic to the Western Cape too.
From there we started playing with words and ‘slow’ struck a chord with us. We knew we didn’t want to use premium beer, handmade or craft beer; we wanted something more meaningful than that. One night after far too much red wine ‘slow beer’ was mentioned and scrawled down amongst our many ideas.
Waking up to our notes we realised that ‘slow beer’ was it. ‘Slow Beer’ is not only the name of our first beer, it is our philosophy, encompassing all of our beers, highlighting their slow fermentation process and why people should choose it over mass produced beer. It has also got the minds wondering ‘what is slow beer?’