After they quietly commenced operations in 2017, Botswana’s first craft beer producers, Big Sip Co, officially launched their state-of-the-art microbrewery in Gaborone last week. Since 2017, the company has been pushing to carve a position in the local market for its craft beer to complement the expanding cultural diversity of the Botswana capital. All the hard work paid off as the Big Sip craft beer has found new homes in bars and cafes and is fast becoming the toast of festivals and other events around the country.
The aim, the brewers say, is to also educate consumers about craft beer and how it differs from mass-produced beer. They plan to export the local brew to other countries shortly. Head brewer and director of Big Sip Co, Jan Debuhr has been brewing for over six years. Having previously studied science, he has the right skills to mix ingredients to come up with the finest brew. Debuhr started brewing in his mother’s kitchen and eventually moved to their new brewery at Gaborone’s Block 3 Industrial.
“We bought our equipment in China in April 2018,” he says. “We travelled to see what we wanted and were blown away by the variety offered. We selected the equipment we needed and it arrived on the 27th of October last year and we commissioned it on the 10th of December.”
The company wants to add other beverages to its craft beer because it has various ideas to explore. So far, The Big Sip Co range has six brews but currently offers the Golden Ale, Kölsch, Mandarina American Pale Ale (APA) and Citrillo Indian Pale Ale (IPA). The Madarina APA is a modern ale based on a variety of new hops, giving it a distinctive flavour of tangerine and citrus fruit with a hint of bitterness. It’s best paired with nachos, buffalo wings and sticky ribs.
The Kolsch is a German-styled beer brewed using special hops to give it a spicy, yet dry character and goes well with meatballs and coleslaw.The Citrillo APA has strong notes of citrus and passion fruit accompanied by a sharp bitter taste and is best paired with spicy curries, burgers and braai meats. The Golden Ale, the smoothest of the lot, is well-rounded and contains notes of passion fruit and citrus, making it a refreshing brew all year round. This one is best paired with pizza and fried chicken.
The Big Sip co-director, Alexander Moss said their craft beer has been very warmly received over the past 12 months and that the market continues to grow.
“When I first tried the Big Sip, I didn’t take a big sip because it was a home brew,” said Moss. “I hesitated to try the brew. So I took a six-pack back home from Jan’s house and later that night, I tasted it and it was actually good beer.
We then hatched a plan to take the good beer to the people and started the process of building the Big Sip Co. This has been an incredibly enjoyable experience and we are glad to see people embracing the beers.”