Wild African Soul, our collab with Tolokazi,  won the African Celebration Award at the 2023 African Beer Cup!

The African Beer Cup is the biggest beer competition on the continent. If you remember last year, it’s the competition that we won Best Beer in Africa.  This year we bagged two medals – a silver for Live Culture Cuvee and a gold for Wild African Soul, a collaboration beer with Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela from Tolokazi Beer.

In addition to the gold, Wild African Soul went on to win the African Celebration Award, one of the marquee awards of the competition. This award goes to the highest scoring beer in the competition that showcases traditional African ingredients.  This is quite an honor and one of the highest awards a beer can get in Africa; especially for such a unique, one of a kind beer.  Soul Barrel’s mission is to showcase local agriculture.  Winning this award affirms the amazing quality and world class beer that can be brewed with South African ingredients.

If you’re unfamiliar with this unusual beer, Wild African Soul is a blend of a traditional farmhouse ale and umqombothi (traditional sorghum beer), aged in wine barrels for two years.  Think of it as a modern rendition of Umqombothi.  To make it, we blended European barrel-ageing techniques with African methods of sour mashing and natural fermentations for a first of its kind ale.

A batch of Umqombothi was blended with our mixed culture farmhouse ale and chardonnay grapes. This finished blend was refermented and matured in a wine barrel. The resulting flavor is completely fascinating. We get notes of cream pear, citrus & honey, flavors that meld into a sticky wild-barrel character, balanced by acidity and funky grain notes derived from the wild sorghum malt and spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts.

What’s most appealing about this beer is the sense of balance and drinkability it has.  The unusual process makes it an exciting drinking experience.

This is the fourth edition of the competition, which is held annually in Cape Town. This year, 52 judges from 16 different countries evaluated 232 beers from 20 African countries.  Only a small percentage win medals, and there are only two marquee awards, the African Celebration Award and the Best Beer in Africa Award, which we’re stoked to have won two years in a row!  Live Culture is also one of the only beers to have won medals three years in the row.  This competition is unique in that every beer is judged twice. All judging is blind, with judges knowing the beer style but not the manufacturer or beer name.

It’s exciting for a locally inspired beer like this to score so highly with an esteemed group of international judges.  It gives us hope for South Africa’s beer future.  We believe South Africa has one of the most amazing beer cultures in the world, and we’ll continue to tell it’s story!


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