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Steve Says

  There is no beer culture; everyone knows that wine is merely fermented fruit juice - but, "What is Beer?" The short answer is beer is the collective term for any alcoholic beverage brewed from fermented grain.The noble beer has a recorded history of over 5000 years. Clay tablets written by the Sumarians, in the area now known as Iraq, make mention of 20 varieties of beer and also many recipes for dishes cooked with beer. The Egyptians used beer as a health food and the Ebers Papyrus - one of the oldest surviving works on medicine – features beer in many remedies.The most important grain for brewing beer is, and has been for many centuries, barley. The journey from barley grain to beer is both long and complex. The process starts with the threshing or collecting of the grain that then goes to the maltster. The maltster’s job is as important as the brewer’s. Here, the maltster takes the raw grain and by spraying the grain with water stimulates the germination process. As the grain comes to life the acrospire, or the shoot, begins to grow up the length of the grain. During this process the little grain converts to starch. It is this starch that feeds the plant until its roots are able to feed from the ground. Starch at a molecular level is like a long strand of sugars joined up together. It is this starch that the brewer uses to create the fermentable sugars.Real brewers would never dream of adding contrived sugars to their beer. The maltster then kilns or bakes the grain, this process stops the germination. The different degrees of heat and the methods used by the maltster determine the type of malt grain produced. From the lighter kilned lager malts through the pale, amber, chocolate and black malts this process offers the brewer his choice of flavour, colour and malt aroma. Quite simply, the better the malt, the better the beer. You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear – it’s an Irish thing! At Gilroy’s Brewery I only use the best malts available both local and imported to brew our beers.

What is Beer?

It is amazing, when considering the volume of beer consumed in South Africa, that so few of us know what beer is.

We have to move with great determination because globally we’ve been left behind. First of all, what is a Beer Culture? It is a constant celebration of life and bringing back the tradition and the magic of beer in all its glorious styles. Belgium has a beer culture! Belgium is about a fortieth of the size of South Africa and boasts well over 100 breweries - each one producing its own range of beers. All the styles available to satisfy the most adventurous of drinkers, sorry, I should have said connoisseurs. The Trappists, Lambics, Weizens, White Beers, Brown and Red Ales and, of course, the Pilsner styles. Why do tourists go to Belgium? Well, some are lost or en route to France, Holland or Germany. The rest are there for the beer! They bring home stories of how the bar staff and locals in pubs seize every opportunity to extol the virtues of their local brewery and are fiercely proud of local beers. Not some bored monosome with his bloody cap on backwards, who only stops chewing for long enough to look up and ask, “What do you want?” That may sound harsh but we’ve all experienced it at one time or another.   Then, let’s look at America – a world leader in beer culture. In the 70’s America was known for its pale anemic lagers - bland beers that relied on marketing muscle to crush all in their path. Wow! Have things changed? The independent and microbreweries now brew a bewildering range of beers, and every year new brewers join the ranks to add even more colour to beer’s grand pageant.  Now, let’s look at South Africa - apart from the big guys, who is there? In alphabetical order there are:Bavaria Brau in Midrand; Boston Brewery, Cape Town; Drayman’s Brewery, Pretoria; Farmers Brewery, Hattinghspruit; Gilroy’s Brewery, West Rand; Hops Hollow in Lydenburg, Mitchells in Knysna and Cape Town; Nottingham Road in the Natal Midlands, Paulaner in Cape Town and my mate Dirk van Tonder at Perry’s Bridge Beer Company in Hazyview. So, that’s a pretty good start.   The best way to start the year is to go on a little brewery tour, and the smaller breweries offer really good tours. In Gauteng try Bavaria Brau – ask for Jenny at 012 661-9233 or Drayman’s – call Moritz at 012 804-8800. If you want to explore the old ways of brewing and need a good laugh, try Gilroy’s legendary brewery tours! So, give us a call and Jenny, Moritz or I will show you how it’s done. Expect to drink a lot of beer, so a designated driver is a very good idea.

South African Beer Culture

Today we are officially starting the South African Beer Culture and every day hence is Beer Culture day!

  In the brewhouse we mix the two together to create what brewers call the ‘mash’. The main purpose of mashing is to convert the grain starch into sugars. There are many mashing methods, proven over the centuries, that the brewer can employ. Single infusion – where the water is preheated to a specific temperature (usually around 67C). Step mashing – when the temperature is raised to predetermined values, and decoction mashing – when a portion of the mash is boiled and then returned to the mash tun.The basics of the process, however, are all pretty much the same. Natural enzymes are released from the grain and the incredible transformation begins. Enzymes are heavyweight proteins that break down complex organic molecules into simpler ones. The process occurs non-stop in all living organisms. In the mash – simply by raising temperatures – different enzymes are stimulated and go to work. Depending on the methods used, these busy little guys first create phytic acid, then breakdown proteins and finally convert the insoluble starch to soluble sugars.There are many different enzymes available in the grain and each has its own unique way of performing its tasks. The brewer wakes them up and off they go! The mashing process takes about one and a half hours and the grainy, starchy mix is almost magically transformed into a sweet nectar, or sweet ‘wort’, (pronounced wert). I love the Old World brewing terms! I’m going to sparge my wort sounds like something you could get arrested for – especially if you did it in public. The origin of wort appears to stem from the old English wyrt, meaning herb. Doesn’t make sense, does it? I asked my brewing buddy Moritz at Draymans microbrewery in Pretoria and to be honest we are both a bit stumped. So, if any one knows the real origin please post a comment!Anyway, back to brewing - the brewer must separate the sweet wort from the spent grain by lautering and sparging. Lautering is performed by using the natural grain bed as a filter to remove any solids. After thousands of years this is still the best way to do the job. The brewer then removes the sweet wort and sparges the grain bed by spraying warm water over the bed to rinse out any trapped wort. Each brewer has his own methods and secrets – try the different beers and enjoy life’s grand pageant. We live in the Rainbow Nation - so many cultures, so many languages and sadly so few beer styles. But that’s a story for another day.

Old World Beer – How is your Wort?

If you read my last articles you now know that beer is brewed from grain, predominantly barley, and that fresh water is in fact very old.

Live Music

music live every weekend at gilroy beer garden

Live entertainment: Saturdays & Sundays.To avoid disappointment please book for weekends.

011 796-3020 or 073 357-2897 (closed Mondays)


The Legend of the Gauntlet


Every tour of the Gilroy Brewery includes a recounting of the great and famous Legend of the Gauntlet. Every tour ends with the traditional salute!  Read about this fine tradition.

And of course the Ode to the Raised Middle Finger may be inspiring too!

Good beer....good food!

Appetite teaser. We highlight some of our favourite favourites...

Venison Carpaccio; Chorizo Toast; Irish Pub Style Potato Skins

Ploughman's Platter; Beer Batter Fish & Chips; Gammon Steak with Mash & Sauerkraut; Beef & Onion Pie; Sweet Chilli Chicken Wraps; Vegetarian Wrap

Create your own nibbling basket - Chips, Ribs, Crumbed Prawns, Halloumi

Sweet endings - Apple Crumble Tart; Black Forest Gateaux, Cape Malva

Children's Menu includes Fish Fingers & Chips; Cheese Burger;'Macaroni & Cheese.