Zululand brew is taking the UK by storm

2015-10-26 10:03
Richard Chennells, surrounded by kegs of his Zulu Blonde he recently brewed in the UK, has taken his Eshowe-born beer to new heights. (Supplied to The Witness)

Richard Chennells, surrounded by kegs of his Zulu Blonde he recently brewed in the UK, has taken his Eshowe-born beer to new heights. (Supplied to The Witness)

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Durban - An Eshowe microbrewer and hotelier is quenching the thirst of thousands of people in the United Kingdom with his home-grown Zulu Blonde Ale.

Richard Chennells was invited as just one of 10 international brewmasters to the JD Wetherspoon’s Real Ale Festival, believed to be the biggest festival of its kind in the world.

Chennells, whose Zulu Blonde Export Ale was voted best beer at the same festival in 2010, has brewed over 100 000 pints for this year’s festival at the Marston’s Brewery at Burton-upon-Trent. It has since been distributed to nearly 950 pubs within the Wetherspoon chain in the UK.

“It is pretty lucrative financially, but it is the exposure that is awesome. They printed and distributed 3.5 million brochures punting my beer,” said Chennells.

And now Chennells, who owns The George Hotel in Eshowe where his brewery is based, said he is hoping to make one final big leap and sign a deal with the UK pub chain.

“There is a possibility which would be kiff but in the meantime I am just taking it easy. The thing with craft beer is that it is not all about the money. It is my passion.”

Once a London banker who worked for the Bank of America and Barclays, in 2005 he packed his bags for the US to be taken through a brewmasters course by the American Brewers Guild.

According to a Wetherspoon’s brochure the “Zulu Blonde (4.5% ABV)” has a “slight honey aroma and a flavour which is predominantly fruity, with a subtle underlying bitterness”.

“The Blonde is technically half barley and half wheat but I tap off on the wheat. Of course there is secrecy about the recipe but it needs to be tweaked from location to machine. Small changes in the water need to be factored in for instance,” said Chennells.

And while his beer may be a sensation in the United Kingdom, if you want to taste his home-brew you have to go to Eshowe.

“My brewery only supplies my pub. We are hoping to have some exciting changes next year such as extending the hotel’s offering and maybe bringing in more capacity to allow us to brew more beer. In 2012 we bottled in the UK and hope to do that again but at the moment if you want a pint of Zulu Blonde you have to come to the George.”

The Wetherspoon’s festival began on October 16 and ends on November 1. It is purposely running during the Rugby World Cup 2015 being held in England.

Read more on:    durban  |  good news

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