Okavango Craft Brewery launches

SHARE   |   Thursday, 18 June 2020   |   By Ricardo Kanono
Okavango Craft beer Okavango Craft beer

Do you want to know what it’s like to taste the
Okavango Delta? Okavango Craft Brewery is a new and exciting venture that
produces craft beer from quality ingredients, including local millet malt
and mineral water from the Okavango Delta. In an effort to drive new and
innovative ways to diversify the wildlife economy in northern Botswana,
Okavango Craft Brewery is now producing beer that contains millet grown by
small-scale farmers who are coexisting with elephants, improving benefits
for sustainable farming practices that are tied to a wildlife economy. With
the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and conservation in the area, we recognise
that support for sustainable eco-practices, local investment and employment
in the region are needed now more than ever before to support the local
economy and people.

Established in 2019, Okavango Craft Brewery is Maun’s first licensed
microbrewery and is located at the old Sports Bar in Sennonori Ward, along
Sir Seretse Khama road, Maun. The enterprise offers a variety of millet
adjunct beers made from quality imported malts and malt made from locally
harvested millet using mineral water from the Okavango Delta. Okavango Craft
Brewery Co-Founder and Director, Graham McCulloch, said: “Through the
Okavango Craft Brewery, local farmers residing in the area now have the
opportunity to be linked to and benefit from a new market, offering some
reward for their efforts to coexist with elephants, and creating
sustainable, inclusive growth for our local economy here in the Okavango
region. Our products give consumers the choice to support both farmers and
wildlife, while enjoying quality products. We recognise that with the
COVID-19 pandemic taking its toll across the globe, Botswana is by no means
immune to impact, and we are going to market in a truly challenging time;
however, we are also taking every precaution as we proceed, for our staff,
stakeholders and potential customers.”

The Maun-based company has launched its food and beverage enterprise in
support of, and to realise the socio-economic potential of a more
integrated, cross-sectoral wildlife-based economy, focused on creating new
markets for farmers who are making a big effort to coexist with wildlife.
The new microbrewery also takes advantage of a craft beer industry that is
growing in popularity worldwide that, until now, has evaded Maun. And
according to our experienced brewer,  Destin Bidzouta-Zola, from
Brazzaville, Congo, “make no mistake, the primary objective is to make a
selection of top quality beers that people will love.”

Under the professional guidance and experience of food tech expert and
business partner, Heine Du Toit, Destin and his Motswana trainee brewer,
Matshidiso Sekeseke, started brewing after the brewery was installed in
early January this year. Since then, the brew crew trio have produced and
tasted some quality Kolsch, IPA, Golden Ale and Stout varieties.
The original business plan was developed around the brew pub model, serving
quality beer over the counter and offering a new bar-restaurant experience
in the tourism hub of Maun town. Since COVID_19, the Okavango Craft brewery
team, like many businesses, have had to adapt and change course, moving to a
distribution sales strategy. Now that the sale of alcohol is permitted at
restaurants and for home consumption, the team launches its beer this week,
through an ordering and take-away service from their premises. Details of
how to order and what’s on offer can be found on their Facebook page
@okavangobrew and Instagram. Order enquiries can be made by e-mail, to
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Currently, two beer types are on offer: a Kolsch-inspired ‘Leleme la noka’
pale ale, named after the recent return of the Okavango flood waters, sold
in 330ml and 750ml returnable bottles, and ‘The Matriarch’, an American
Amber IPA, that is being offered to members only in one liter returnable
jugs or ‘growlers’, as they are called in the craft beer world. Details of
how to become a member can also be found on social media.

The Brew Pub is also currently being renovated and will open soon for food
and an opportunity to taste the beers on offer, in small numbers. In the
future, when the tourism industry recovers from current travel restrictions,
the Okavango Craft Brewery will also invite tourists that visit Maun to come
on a tour of the brewery. The team hopes this will add to the tourism
activities Maun has to offer, raising more awareness and support for the
local economy, its people and the wildlife of the Okavango. “Building a
sustainable development project that produces top quality Botswana products
and that can be showcased to many tourists from around the world who visit
the Okavango is something I, as a citizen of Botswana, am very proud to be a
part of,” says co-owner, Francine Sheldon. "We look forward to growing this
business, and ensuring throughout that we spread the message of responsible
drinking, and positive behaviour, in line with the values of our brand."

Okavango Craft Brewery stands united with the residents of Maun, and the
people of Botswana at large, during the challenging period COVID-19 brings,
with the hope that a united community and business sector will emerge
stronger once the worst of the pandemic has passed. The organisation remains
committed to making a meaningful contribution to the economy as a proudly
Botswana business ready to responsibly support the economy and the community
it is so proud to call home.