This month Masha and I had the privilege of hanging out with Jasiu Lewtak, co-owner of award-winning Stellar Brewery, in the spirit of Oktoberfest. Stellar Brewery has been running for about a year and their delicious beers are handcrafted right here in Bloemfontein. We asked all the important questions; how Jasiu ended up in Bloemfontein, how the brewery came to be and where you can find their products. We even got a sneak peek into their future prospects. Here’s more about the man behind the beer, and the beer itself of course.
When life in Warsaw, Poland became too comfortable for their liking, Jasiu and his wife decided that it would be a good time to pack their bags and move to “somewhere far”. They were in search of a city that was conservative and difficult to change. And that’s how they ended up in Bloemfontein. The couple identified the fact that things were brewing here and that there was an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the Bloemfontein community – something they’ve succeeded in thus far!
Whilst taking on his post-doctoral studies in Chemistry at the UFS, Jasiu took an interest in the intricacies of the beer brewing process. He took part in a few competitions where he won silver and gold medals for home-brewing. Once all his recipes were proven, he decided to go commercial. Jasiu and his business partners subsequently started up Stellar Brewery in 2016, with the main objective of influencing the craft scene in the Free State and South Africa. The name “Stellar” was derived from the idea that the galaxy features unlimited possibilities, just like their beer brewing business.
The brewery sources locally as far as they can and they pride themselves in experimenting with and producing beers of superior quality. Their beers are designed so as to appreciate and enjoy the taste and flavours. My favourite has to be the Bloem Weiss; enjoyable it is! The team recently took part in a craft brewers’ competition in Cape Town where they won a SILVER medal for beer aged in oak. And get this… someone drove all the way from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein the other day with the sole purpose of buying all the available bottles of this particular beer. At retail price nogals. Naturally, Jasiu is facing cultural and language barriers which impact on business. On the bright side, he finds that the community is receptive, especially when they realise that he’s foreign. Stellar Brewery’s products are clearly in demand and they can only go onwards and upwards from here.
Stellar Brewery has since launched their gin products at the Vryfees and they’ve been distilling whiskey and experimenting with British Styled rum. They’re looking to continue making an impact on the craft scene, expanding the business and brewing more obscure styles of beer for the connoisseurs. As a foreigner with an objective view of South Africa, Jasiu has an admirable amount of faith in the potential of our economy and he is certainly contributing.
Now, for the most important bit of information: you can find Stellar Brewery products at local markets, Liquor City Preller & Bloemgate, Bella Casa and Galaxy Pub. They will be at the Statrup Grind event on the 25th of October. Also, they featured as one of three local breweries at this year’s 1st annual Beer Fest at Ramblers Club. Look out for next year’s edition.
As a beer lover myself, I look forward to seeing this business making waves in the South African craft scene. Local is lekker, so be sure to support these guys. And if you are a foreigner considering moving to Bloemfontein, this story is testament to the fact that there most certainly is a space here for you.
PS Bloemfontein has a beer club. Members come together over the weekend and are given brewing styles to experiment with. They figure out what works, what doesn’t, how to improve and who can help. There are over 100 styles to test and if something like “testing the activity of beta analyse depending on the PH of water” tickles your fancy, join the club. Pop Stellar Breweries an inbox on Facebook should you be interested in becoming a member. Give them a like while you’re at it!
A Traveller’s Friend