What makes craft beer different?


Hey RedRockers and welcome to our second Q&A session. This week we received a lot of questions about what makes craft beer so different from normal beer and why it is more expensive.




Keep tuning back for more questions and answers.  Session 3 will be released soon

Click here to submit your questions

Some other fantastic questions received but did not make the video cut can be found below:


Question Answer
I would like to understand the differences between a larger and an Ale Let’s answer this in two ways; firstly from a brewing perspective, and secondly in terms of the characteristics of the final beer itself  for the drinker.  BREWING:  In general, Ales will be brewed using more aromatic ingredients (both malts and hops) to derive the “fruitier” characteristic typical of Ales; whereas Lagers are much cleaner in the final taste.  Lagers are typically fermented at lower temperatures (between 8 and 16C – although there are always exceptions), using a bottom-fermenting yeast.  Ales are fermented at higher temperatures (from 15 to 24C – although again there are exceptions) using top-fermenting yeast – and this derives the fruity aromas (called Esters) and flavours. Ales generally ferment faster than Lagers and require less maturation time – Lagers can typically mature for 3-4 weeks, even longer in some cases.
DRINKING: Lagers provide a very clean drinking experience, with moderate bitterness, with each beer generally only accentuating one flavour aspect …. although as always, especially in the craft beer space, each brewer has his own style,  By contrast, Ales are very flavourful beers, normally quite fruity in characteristic , and bitterness can range from slight to very strong (as in the case of IPA’s)
Do craft beer ratings and “best beer titles” actually mean anything? The best beer is the one you have in front of you and are enjoying drinking.
Ratings and awards do obviously provide some indication of quality or adherence to a certain style, but they are generally another persons perception and personal palate.
In general though, a beer that has been awarded some form of accolade, from a reputable competition or organisation, does have a certain stamp of approval – and can be bought with confidence …. of course, enjoyment of the beer is a personal thing; e.g. an award winning IPA may not be to everyones preference.
If RedRock could brew any style, regardless of cost or sales, what would it be Redrock’s main beers are made to appeal to the beer drinker wanting a more sessionable beer – so our beers are “light-touch” in terms of maltiness, hoppiness or other flavours such as Esters (from the yeast) and/or the “Oil of Clove” flavour typical of Weiss beers.
But as brewers, we would all like to make the ultimate beer in one or two of the styles – probably the main  types being an IPA …. watch our website for upcoming news in this department!
At what temperature should a beer be served at to get the most flavour from it? In South Africa, where we have a very hot climate, we like our beers to be cold – much to the horror of our northern hemisphere friends.  In general, we serve lagers at 4-5C, but they could be served a little warmer than that … and of course a certain mainstream beer advocates drinking it even colder than this.  Ales should however be served a little warmer, to best allow all the flavours and aromas that the brewer has packed into the beer, to be appreciated …. around 8-12C would be optimal in our view.  But again, our best advice is drink your beer as you prefer it.


Could you please tell me what makes craft beer so different than the normal beer we see Think of bread – standard white or brown bread that you can buy in a grocery store vs the speciality breads you can buy at speciaility bakeries.  The difference is essentially the extra flavours that craft brewers add in to their beers.. The mainstream brewers have to make a beer that appeals to a wide cross-section of the population, so the beers tend to be less flavoured, and very high in drinkability.  Please do not confuse the extra flavours with quality –  both mainstream and craft beers are made to the highest possible quality – the difference is in the flavours.


With regards to your bad moon crystal Wiess, is it made in the true sense of European weissbier/witbier or have u tries something different,also can it be pour the as a true weissbier should? Bad Moon is not a true European or German Weiss beer; this is a deliberate variation to ensure the drinkability that we prize so much, and which our patrons enjoy.  We use pretty much the same ingredients in terms of malt (50% wheat malt) and hops that the typical Weiss would use, but we do use a Belgium Kosch yeast retaher than  typical Weiss one, so as not to develop the classic “clove and banana” flavours of a typical Weiss.
Obviously also, we filter our beer so that it is Crystal clear – rather than the more typical cloudy chracter.
how do you stop the beer fermenting/keep fresh once it has been bottled? The fermentation has laready stopped long before it gets to the bottle.
Firstly, the yeast will only ferment out to the allowed amount – which is precalculated by our master brewer in his recipe development.  Once the final gravity of the beer has been reached, we cool the beer to allow the yeast to floculate to the bottom of the tank.  We then harvest the yeast off the beer, before cooling the beer to sub-zero temperatures in order to mature it.
Once the beer is matured, we filter it before bottling.
We can also flash-pasteurise our beers before bottling to ensure that any remaining yeast cells are rendered inactive.
It should be noted that beer is always best drunk fresh – beer will keep for quite a long time in a bottle – we allow 9 months shelf-life – but the simple fact is that it always tastes better when fresher.
what’s the story behind your name? One day a group of marketing people got together for a thinktank ….
… more seriously, we wanted to aligh ourselves with both Africa and music … so red is a dominant colour in our continent, and Rock is of course the music aspect.
I notice a big move towards cans with regards to #craftbeer what are @redrockbeer thoughts on cans vs bottling and are you likely to go that way in future? The USA industry has experienced a big move towards cans …. and the European industry is currently moving this way too.  There is some movement toward canning here in South Africa, but for the moment this is not a priority for many in the craft industry.  But this does remain on our radar as a future possibility.


What does one have to do to become a part of the red rock brewery family? #lovethisstuff I’m not sure what you mean by becoming a “part of the family” but we are always welcoming toward people who love our beer as we do; indeed, we are very grateful for your support.


How do you come up with a recipe for each brew? Our Master Brewer develops our recipes, in conjunction with our on-site brewing team, and in collaboration with our various suppliers across the world.  A good beer is all about balancing the key flavours and accentuating specific ones; this is only possible with a thorough understanding of the ingredients, as well as how best to brew them to extract the desired flavour or aroma profiles.


Who decides on the names for the brews. The names are epic We have an internal team as well as a  professional marketing agency that develops our brands – very often the brand development process includes testing potential names on a variety of consumer focus groups.


What would you say is a uniquely South African-style craft beer, and why? I’m not sure we have a uniquely South African style as yet … although quite a few brewers are making so called “African Pale Ales”.  And then of course there is the use of quintessential South Africa ingredients, like Buchu, Rooibos and other local herbs.
And there are some very entrepreneurial brewers starting to experiment with local (wild) yeasts … so maybe a South African “lambic” beer sometime in the future.
Is it possible to make a non-alcoholic craft beer? It is pf course possible … but probably not economically feasible just yet … as the equipment to remove the alcohol is very expensive.  But we do know that various brewers are looking at this.


Should drinking from a bottle vs a glass be a rule or preference in order to get the best aromas and flavour? A beer poured properly into a glass is going to give a better presentation of the flavours and aromas that the brewers has worked so hard to develop … this is why there is a range of specialised glassware to suit different styles of beer.
But that’s the theoretical side of things; if you enjoy your beer from a bottle, who are we to day not to.