Meet Karl and Greg of Beer Country

Words: Crush

Beer Country is South Africa’s first TV show dedicated to beer, food, fire, and the open road. Hosted by two of the thirstiest guys on the planet – brothers, Greg and Karl. The guys also create incredible food over open flames and pair what they eat with what they drink.

We sat down with these two fellas to find out a bit more about what makes them tick (besides beer and braai that is). But firstly, who exactly are the Beer Country guys?

Greg Loves to braai. His first and to date best job was getting paid to braai boerewors at age thirteen. For him there is no such thing as too much fire, and he believes that craft beer is love in a bottle.

Karl loves beer. He also loves fire and food, and when it comes to cooking doesn’t believe in half measures. When he is not braaing and drinking beer, you can find him drinking beer and braaing.

We know you guys were contestants on the Ultimate Braai Master Series 1, can you tell us a bit about that?

G: Roadtrip of a lifetime, no doubt! Every group of mates has a guy or girl who takes charge of the tongs when it matters, and this was our chance to see how we stacked up. On the call-to-entry, I am not sure whether it was the look in Justin Bonello’s eyes, or in the yellowtail’s he was holding, but the challenge was on. All in, we did pretty well after a seriously steep learning curve.

K: UBM was one of the toughest and most incredible adventures of a lifetime. For us it was always about the road trip and making it to the end. We managed to do all that and then come in second place… kinda sucks but I’d do it all over again in a heart beat.

How did UBM lead to Beer Country?

G: Not gonna lie, coming second was tough as nails, but it was also a massive motivator. I don’t think we would have fought as hard for Beer Country had we won. I reckon it was the Universe asking us:” How badly do you want it?” Pretty badly as it turns out. Seems you need to learn how to lose before you learn how to win, just ask the Bokke!

K: The idea for Beer Country happened about five minutes after we found out that we hadn’t won. After a whole bunch of swearing we got talking and decided that if we didn’t win this TV thing, then we’d make our own. Beer and braai was what we’re good at, so it sort of just evolved from there.

Craft Beer is a buzz phrase at the moment, can you tell us a bit about the phenomenon?

G: I think the artisanal food and craft revolution go hand in hand. Yes, it costs a bit more, but you get what you pay for and then some. When you see the passion and love behind these beers… that trumps a bottom-line any day. More people drinking better beer. It’s a beautiful thing!

K: When you think about beer and the beer industry before craft beer, we were all drinking lager, all the time and there are like 10 different brands of it. There’s nothing wrong with lager and I still drink lots of it, but there’s more to life than lager. That’s what craft beer has to offer.

All of a sudden there are all these new styles of lagers and ales just waiting to be tasted. I think that’s why craft beer has taken off like it has. People want exciting beers.

How does the industry in SA compare to US and Europe?

G: Right now the USA has this massive momentum built over the past two decades on truly epic beers. Europe just has good beer, and has had for hundreds of years. As for us here in SA, well we learn pretty quickly, are able to maak-‘n-plan, and we have the road map. Some of our guys and girls have started getting just the right mix of courage and consistency, with a little added local inspiration. We are lucky enough to be living in the thick of it. Exciting times for sure!

K: South Africa is doing well but we’re still many years and many beers behind those guys. Things are moving at an amazing pace here and we’ve got new breweries opening up on a regular basis here. I don’t know it we will ever compete on size but we’ve got some kick-ass beers here and I think the future is looking tasty.

What item would you take with you to live on another planet?

G: Bacon! Instant galactic president-for-life status.

K: Can’t fight that logic, but for me, a good and solid folding knife is a must. Everyday.

Late night petrol station snack?

G: Is beer a snack? I reckon so.
K: A good pepper steak pie solves everything.

First food memory?

G: It was in the Kruger Park. I was seven years old and got handed the tongs by my dad to look after the wors. Smashed it!
K: Hmmm.. it’s not my first but it’s one that sticks out – mom opening the tupperware of hot egg-mayo sarmies on family road trips. It’s a powerful scent… stings the nostrils.

What ingredient you wished you could grow on a tree?

G: Unicorns. I bet they would make an amazing potjie!
K: The original Huy-Fong Sriracha Sauce. Nothing comes close to the real Red Rooster!

A moment in time you can teleport to?

G: Well in 2015 my birthday is International Back to the Future Day, seriously. So this may actually happen!
K: Any Led Zeppelin concert from the early 70s


Food moment you wish you could reverse…

G: Downing a pilchard smoothie at SANCCOB, filming Beer Country. The volunteers feed it to the baby penguins. Not even the brewer’s yeast could save the fishy, cod-liver oil, Husky combo. Worst. Idea. Ever.
K: Ostrich penis while judging the Ultimate Braai Master auditions. It was a bad decision and I blame Justin Bonello for giving it to me.

Most uncomfortable place you have ever had to sleep?

G: We have slept in some crazy places, but two on the Ultimate Braai Master stand out for sure. Karl…
K: First night on the Orange River, we shared a 2 man tent that was made for hobbits (again, thanks Bonello). Then in the Transkei, flat on a freshly laid cow-dung floor. The farting cow was in there with us, along with a wolfpack of cockroaches. That was pretty special, and we wouldn’t change it for anything, haha!

Favourite ingredient right now to cook with?

G: Chipotle chillies, hands down. Spicy, smokey, smells like fire, tastes great on anything. They are fire-foodie crack!
K: Our Karoo-Dust spice mix. It’s a USA-style dry rub and we use it on everything.

What local craft beer are you gonna be having with your fire tonight?

G: For the longest time my go-to was Devil’s Peak Woodhead (which I love), but right now I am reaching for CBC – Mandarina IPA. Too good…
K: Bring on the hops, Woodstock Brewery – Californicator. All day long.

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