What it’s like to be an SAB brewmaster

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Danie Odendaal_Blog (1)Danie Odendaal is a Brewmaster at SAB’s Chamdor Brewery. He’s been brewing for 15 years and naturally is passionate about all things beer. He sheds some light on what it’s like to be an SAB brewmaster.

SAB Stories: You work with beer all day! What do you most love about one of the world’s favourite drinks?

Danie Odendaal: After that first sip of a great beer when your senses tingle with delight…There is nothing as great as having a beer you have had before and being reminded of why you are having it again. It is like meeting up with an old friend.

A career in the brewing industry takes passion and dedication. Had you always wanted to become a brewmaster?

Well when I was still a student I knew I wanted to brew beer but once I started to work for SAB I knew I wanted to one day be a brewmaster.

Danie’s typical day at Chamdor brewery:

It starts with brewery walkabout before the real day starts.  Having a look at the ‘life’ of the brewery overall like fermentation charts, SV charts, visual management, and the feedback on them. This is to get a feel of what has been on the go since the previous day. The walkabout is followed by planning for the day.  Then we get to focussing on specific areas like flavour stability, governance, problem solving, tasting, new projects and various other aspects of brewing.

Many of SAB’s most popular beers are made at Chamdor. These include:

  • Castle lager
  • Castle Light
  • Carling Black label
  • Hansa Pilsener
  • Hansa Marzen Gold
  • Redd’s Original, Bold & Redd’s Dry
  • Bruital Fruit: Apple Ginger, Cranberry, Lemon, Litchi, Mango, Mango-Goji, Peach, Strawberry
  • Sarita & Sarita Ruby Dry
  • Flying Fish Lemon & Flying Fish Orange

The brewers also exercise their creative muscles by creating German craft beers for local Octoberfests (Munich Dunkel, Octoberfest, Crystal Weiss amongst others) and a handful of ad hoc craft beers for various other festivals

What’s the key to success in a great brew?

Great raw materials, a good process and most importantly passionate people

Do you have a favourite SAB beer, one that you always enjoy drinking, no matter the mood or occasion? 

I love them all but I do wander between Castle, Hansa, Castle Lite and Castle Milk Stout.

You also vary your produce slightly in that you regularly brew limited edition craft beers for the beer festivals and such. Tell us about the difference between craft beer and big-scale brewing?

The process is very similar although the vessels and size might be different. On the big scale brewing it is all about adherence, controlling and conforming to every brand’s recipe.  After all, a Castle should be a Castle every time we make it!

On the craft side there is a lot of more freedom to experiment and create your own beer.  It is the recipes that are very different regarding types of speciality malts, yeast strains, hops and speciality ingredients.

What advice would you give to young brewers looking to make it into the industry?

Passion, passion, passion if you wake up every morning not being excited about brewing beer you may as well go and do something else.  If it is just a job for you, you will battle to make it in this industry.

If you’d like to find out more about joining our graduate programmes for brewers, visit our careers page here. 

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