Heineken celebrates International Beer Day in Soweto

A typical Highveld winter midweek lunchtime turned out to be time well spent in news disseminators being tutored on both the Dutch brand’s credentials – as well as the world renown staple, in general!

The closed doors intimate engagement with intrepid members of the Fourth Estate gathered momentum with Heineken South Africa’s Corporate Affairs Director, Millicent Maroga giving an overview of her brand’s footprint in the country and its sensibilities and obligations to local cultures – with her putting it to guests, and to nods around the bespoke space, that, “there is no uMsebenzi without beer!” alluding to African ways of observing traditional dos.  

That was the culmination of unpacking an unscripted tangent of how theirs is an entity with a business plan stooped in procuring from South Africa.  Maroga had also exhorted upon the amplification and need for media partnerships to drive the message of responsible consumption.  “We want to be a strong number two!” she declared, in reference to her company presently occupying the maid’s spot to Auheuser-Busch InBev – the World’s largest brewer.

Yet in as far as presentations go, the star of the show was Heineken SA’s affable, soft-spoken draughts master, 29-year-old Amanda Xulu, who took attendees on a truly memorable and informative journey of the rudimentary insofar as beer brewing, quality, serving and even manner of consumption! 

The elegant and savvy Xulu, who is incredulously a teetotaller in spite of being a crucial exponent in the production of a staple society swears on, delivered a master class which had beer drinkers amongst the gathering gesticulating abashedly at admitting to had been going about it the wrong way all along and only to be exposed on the day!  The new lessons and tips, all garnered within a mere four years in her particular industry by the draughts master, who conducted her practical presentation from behind the bar, and next to shiny taps.

Xulu delved into details of curiosity such as the difference betweent a keg and a bottled beer whilst throwing about choice words such as ‘pasteurised’ and ‘beer landing on shoulder of star’ (whilst alluding to the manner of pouring of a draught from the tap, with a perfect presentation being when the golden-coloured liquid part end up just above the ubiquitous Heineken red star – and topped off with just the requisite amount of foam to the brink).

 One of the lessons she dished out on the day and which seemed to be received as a form of relief by some amidst, was her debunking of the widely-held myth that beer was responsible for the dreaded “bier-boep” – with her alerting that what developed the unwelcome physical deformity was what consumers ate whilst drinking.  Xulu further advised that after every beer – an equal amount of water should be imbibed.

An excitable part of her fun demonstration at the taps was when she invited both female and male guests to demonstrate how they poured their beers – with a hotchpotch of results wherein glasses were filled with too much foam to the pourer’s liking and invariable dissatisfaction with no rising bubbles racing inside the tall draught glass.

A colleague’s of Xulu reminded invitees that Heineken advocated for, ‘1 is too many’ whilst conceding that economics dictated otherwise.  Upon the conclusion of her presentation, the taps opened up and waiters served up meaty dishes to compliment the all-round quaffing of the water, barley and hops!

Along with water, milk and tea, beer is one of the world’s most popular and universally consumed beverages.  On International Beer Day, which is celebrated annually on the first Friday of August, beer fans all over the globe raise a toast to their favourite beverage, along with the brew masters who create it and the bartenders who serve it.

7 Facts about Beer and Beer Brand Innovation

  • In May 2016 researchers discovered a 5000-year-old recipe for beer during an archaeological dig in China, which was used to make beer in rooms in a period between 3400 and 2900 BC using corn millet, Chinese pearl barley and tubers.
  • ‘Sin Tax’ has existed for thousands of years.  Egypt is thought to be the first civilisation to tax beer, with Queen Cleopatra enacting the duty on the alcoholic beverage during her reign which ended in 30 BC.
  • Beer brewers have always innovated their products in order to enter new markets, create new market segments, or simply boost sales.  For instance, in 1922 Bavarian Franz Xaver Kugler built a bar at the end of a popular bike trail in Germany.  After some 13 000 cyclists rode into town demanding beer, Kugler realised he didn’t have nearly enough to satisfy the thirsty German cyclists.  Panicking, Kugler improvised by mixing half his inventory of beer with thousands of bottles of clear lemon soda.  The 50/50 beer-lemon concoction was an instant hit, and Radler (meaning “cyclist” in German) was born.  Unlike Kugler, Amstel beer is mixed with real lemon juice to create Amstel Radler.
  • Heineken has become the world’s most global beer business serving 25 million beers daily.  In fact, the company is the world’s second largest brewer, boasting a portfolio of more than 300 international local and specialty beverages, with its flagship beer Heineken being available in 192 countries.
  • South Africa produces most of beer sold locally.  HEINEKEN South Africa brews beer locally at its world-class brewery in Sedibeng in the Midvaal area.  Many products including Amstel and Heineken are locally produced for sale in the country, as well as exported to markets such as Namibia and Botswana.  The Sedibeng brewery is the world’s third-largest brewery in terms of Heineken production.
  • Many beer brands are embracing local sourcing and so is HEINEKEN South Africa.  Through HEINEKEN’s Barley Emerging Farmers Economic Development project, the company has contracted black farmers in the commercial barley production supply chain.  In 2019, the project is aiming to incorporate at least 80 farmers from six provinces.
  • Market research from data analytics firm IRI has revealed that like the rest of the world, South Africans are craving healthy options when it comes to their food, beer and spirits.  The beer industry has responded with innovative products such as Heineken 0.0, which is an alcohol-free malt beverage brewed with a unique recipe for a distinct balanced taste – along with only 69 calories per bottle.

Image Jacob MAWELA (Draught master, Amanda Xulu holds a glass of a perfectly poured Heineken beer at The Establishment Pub, in Diepkloof, Soweto).

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