All is Nieuw at CederBrew

You might know of CederBrew because of Chubbyhead Stout, their lady brewers, or a crowd-sourced campaign to help with fees from an unfortunate legal incident. We reached out to meet the CederBrew NieuwBrew brewers…

Tania & Melanie Nieuwoudt from NieuwBrew in the Cederberg, Western Cape, South Africa

Dogs, Chickens & Horses

“We have ten dogs”, Melanie replies to my request for something that’s not on the web yet. “And we have a non-profit chicken farm with chickens that we do not slaughter and whose eggs we don’t eat.”

Tania admits to having free time and, she says, revealing another factoid, “I love horse riding. I compete in shows and try to practice as often as I can when I am not brewing.”

Melanie and Tania Nieuwoudt are two halves of the brewing sister duo that is CederBrew NieuBrew. Their 7th generation family farm, Kromrivier, is nestled in the heart of the Cederberg mountains, where water from the farm’s namesake river is often called soetwater. It’s a high quality water that begs to be brewed with.

And that’s exactly what they did with the establishment of CederBrew in 2013, on the solid foundation of Melanie’s Ph.D in Food Science, Tania’s MComm in Logistics Management and the Nieuwoudt family’s background in marketing.

But where did the idea germinate?

“In 2010, in a lab in Stellenbosch”, Melanie says, showing a picture, you know, or it didn’t happen. And it nearly didn’t.

The legal battles is Number 4 on the Nieuwoudt sisters’ list of Most Frustrating Steps of Setting Up a Brewery (after Getting a license, Changing a pump seal and The exchange rate).

That legal battle came knocking in early 2015 in the form of trade mark dispute. The outcome wasn’t favourable, but thanks in part to the said crowd-funding, the sisters could moved on. But how?

The first ever CederBrew?“NieuwBrew!” Tania proclaims defiantly. “A new beginning with no more looking over our shoulders to unknown threats and harm-doers. We can finally start concentrating on standard brewer’s problems”, she says, undoubtedly thinking about pump seals.

Beer Women

“Is being a woman in the South African craft beer industry one of the problems?” I ask.

“Not really” Melanie says ponderously. “I guess it’s supposed to distinguish us a bit from the rest, but not so much in today’s time.”

“If anything should be taken form the fact that we are women, it’s that our beer has a more feminine finish – perfumy and well balanced.  And a great body”, she adds with a grin.

What is your view of South Africa’s craft beer industry?

Tania mulls it over for a bit. “At the moment the industry is booming and that’s great. Brewers are experimenting more and trying new styles.”

“This excites me,” she says, “as it also pushes us to do new stuff.”

However, echoing a sentiment that is rising in the industry, the sisters feel that not all brewers are getting it right.

The Cederberg Mountains in South Africa's Western Cape, home to NieuwBrew

“New craft beer drinkers are put off from experiencing the diversity,” explains Tania, “because if their first beer tastes off, they think that’s how it’s supposed to taste.”

Melanie puts in her 2 cents worth about another heated debate: craft beer festivals. “[Craft] beer festivals are becoming impersonal and overpriced – you seldom see an actual brewer serving the beer.”

“If we go to a festival we love chatting about the subject with the person pouring the draft,” says Tania, undoubtedly giving as good as she gets. “But now, more often than not, that person was given a one-line brief on the brewery just before their shift started.”

“Maybe,” suggests the sisters as a possible solution to this trend, “the people selling the beer should get involved in the brewery. There are enough young people interested and exited about the craft beer movement.”

“The person representing the brewery at a festival would then understand the processes within that brewery.”

“Also,” Melanie concludes, “consider smaller festivals where the atmosphere is more personal.”

What’s in store for NieuwBrew?

“We have an upgrade in the pipeline,” Tania says excitedly, “the farm will soon also be a craft winery richer. In the same building we intend to set up a larger scale of our current brewing system too.”

There are undoubtedly exciting times ahead for Tania, Melanie and NieuwBrew.

In the meantime, to quench your thirst with a CederBrew NieuwBrew, find them at the source on the Nieuwoudt family farm, Kromrivier, in the Cederberg or follow the link for a list of CederBrew stockists.

The beer offerings from CederBrew, soon to be Nieuw Brew.