Introducing the South African National Beer Trophy 2023: Celebrating Excellence in South African Brews

National Beer Trophy 2023

Best Beer in South Africa 1000 Hills Brewery ‘The Fes’

by the Beer Association of South Africa

17 November 2023

Last night the beer industry gathered in Cape Town for a celebration of the best beers produced in South Africa. The South African National Beer Trophy (SANBT) has been an important event on the beer calendar since it was first awarded in 2015. In partnership with the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), the awards recognise local excellence in the art of brewing. BASA represents Heineken South Africa, South African Breweries, the Craft Brewers Association of South Africa and United National Breweries.

When the SANBT started in 2015, only 65 beers were entered. This year the judges had to choose from over 180 entries. “The quality of beer in South Africa has been drastically improving,” said JV Ridon, SANBT head organiser.

The overall champion was 1000 Hills Brewing Company’s “The Foreign Exchange Student” (“The FES”), a Belgian ale described by the brewers as “a strong and dark brew, with a hint of caramel and toffee, mildly bittered with Perle and Fuggles hops”.

The SANBT features a list of categories. Each category was evaluated based on the BJCP Style Guidelines, assessing factors such as aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel, and overall impression. The category winner were as follows:

BASA also sponsored two categories for Best No Alcohol Beer (<0.5% ABV) and for Best Low-Alcohol Beer (< 3.9% ABV). The winners were:

The following beers were awarded gold medals:

The following beers were awarded silver medals:

Ridon highlighted that the acknowledged beers truly came from across the entire country – from Secunda to Paarl, from Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg. “We are always happy to offer a platform to the remarkable brewers of South Africa. There are so many new beers. It shows diversity. And they are beers with identity.”

Ridon also mentioned the resilience of craft brewers. “We saw that during the lockdown we were all in the same boat,” he said, referencing the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 alcohol bans from which most craft brewers are now bouncing back.

Patricia Pillay, the CEO of BASA, congratulated the winners. “We applaud all the winners for their skill, passion and their dedication to their craft. We encourage them to continue being part of the rich beer heritage and tradition that exists in South Africa – from the days of traditional brewing in the form of umqombothi to microbrewing. Along with big beer players, the beer industry supports 1 in every 66 jobs in one way or another. BASA recognises that with the current economy and various legislative limitations that impact beer as a category, it’s not always easy to trade, but we acknowledge the brewers’ ability to always be innovative. The world-class no alcohol and low alcohol beers that the brewers produce are amazing and it was a privilege for BASA to be able to sponsor the prizes for these categories for the second year. BASA takes its responsibility to promote moderate and considered drinking very seriously,” she said.

Closing the event, Pillay spoke about BASA’s petition to gauge public support for the legalisation of the sale of craft beer in grocery stores. The petition has already received over 22 000 signatures.

Welcome, beer enthusiasts and industry professionals, to the highly anticipated South African National Beer Trophy 2023! As the largest beer competition dedicated solely to beers brewed in South Africa, we are thrilled to invite you to join us on this incredible journey, celebrating the art and craftsmanship of our country’s finest brewers.

In partnership with BASA

The entry forms will be sent to the breweries directly. But you can contact us on A trophy will be awarded to the winning non-alcoholic beer (<0.5% ABV) and for the winning low alcohol beer (<3.9% ABV) in order to support responsible drinking. The SANBT will waiver entry fee for these two categories. The ‘NO or LOW’ Trophies will pave the way for quality recognition of these beers.

This year the SANBT is teaming up with Wine Mag to offer you a unique platform to enter your beer into the Label Design Awards 2023



About the Competition:

The South African National Beer Trophy is an annual event that brings together passionate brewers, judges, sommeliers, and beer lovers from across the nation. Our primary goal is to recognize and reward the outstanding talent within the South African professional brewing community while promoting the growth and responsible development of the local beer industry.

Competition Format:

This year’s competition follows the guidelines set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), ensuring a fair and standardized evaluation process. Professional brewers from all over South Africa are invited to submit their exceptional brews across various categories, showcasing the diverse range of styles and flavours that define our nation’s brewing scene. Needless to say that beers will be assessed anonymously.

The Grand Finale:

Culminating in a spectacular grand “Best of Show” event, the South African National Beer Trophy 2023 will bring together brewers, industry professionals, and beer enthusiasts for an unforgettable last round of judging. The awards ceremony will honour the remarkable achievements of the winners while fostering networking opportunities and promoting collaboration within the brewing community.

Categories and Criteria:

The South African National Beer Trophy 2023 will feature an extensive list of categories based on the BJCP 2021 categories, encompassing a wide range of beer styles, including traditional, hybrid, and experimental brews. Each category will be evaluated based on the BJCP guidelines, assessing factors such as aroma, appearance, flavour, mouthfeel, and overall impression. By adhering to these rigorous criteria, we ensure the highest standards are met when recognizing the best beers in South Africa.

Expert Panel of Judges:

To ensure the highest level of expertise and integrity, we have assembled a panel of seasoned judges, consisting of certified BJCP judges, experienced brewers, industry professionals, and respected sommeliers. Their extensive knowledge and discerning palates will guide the evaluation process, guaranteeing fair and impartial judging for all entries.

Our BJCP Judges list will meet the number of entries to make sure we have the best quality of judging for this 2023 edition.

Over the years we invited certified sommeliers to give more visibility to the world of beers into the restaurants.
Sommeliers Academy is a partner of the 2023 National Beer Trophy.

Celebrating Excellence:

As the competition progresses, we will highlight exceptional breweries, showcase the award-winning beers, and share insights from the judges. This celebration of excellence will not only recognize the winners but also provide valuable feedback to participants, enabling them to refine their craft and continue pushing the boundaries of South African beer innovation.

Get Involved:

Whether you are a brewery, a BJCP certified judge, or simply curious about the world of South African beer, we encourage you to participate in the South African National Beer Trophy 2023. Brewers can submit their exceptional brews, while beer enthusiasts can follow us in celebrating the diversity and excellence of our local beer scene. Stay updated by visiting our website, following our social media channels for the latest news, updates, and important dates.

Contact us

Tel: 021 422 5206