Meet An... Operations Manager | Devil's Peak Brewing Company | Craft beer from Cape Town, South Africa

Meet An… Operations Manager

operations manager

Ernst van Rensburg is the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company’s operations manager, a jack-of-all-trades type of position responsible for everything from stock control to the maintenance of taps and lines at the various bars that stock our brew.

Hell, he even does invoicing. What a guy!

That doesn’t mean Ernst does it all with a smile on his face though, and reckons that the worst part of his job is getting screamed at over the phone by a bar owner for their tap not working properly. So Ernst will drive out there, push one button, fix the problem and then looks at the guy with dead eyes.

“If the cleaning cycle isn’t adhered to then obviously a line will get clogged. There are a few venues that are very good at sanitizing their own equipment, and who take responsibility for the taps on site… However, 99% of venues will phone you asking for your beer, and then leave it at that when they have it. General hygiene is so important and something that you would expect from a venue that sells food.”

A quick lesson in tap lines: Tap lines are the behind-the-scenes workhorses of the beer world that quietly move beer from keg to tap and then to your glass. Sugars, proteins and yeast make up a biofilm, a gunk that collects on the inside of the line. If your beer tastes funny it could be this important component of the drinking experience isn’t being properly maintained. Tap lines should be cleaned every two weeks, and Ernst does this by sending a harsh cleaning agent through the line and then flushing it with water.

Ernst is the guy who ensures you have a delicious, fresh beer in your glass. No wonder he wears his underpants over his jeans. Guy’s a superhero!

Hygiene is something Ernst is quite particular on, having worked in the industry for a while now and having always dabbled in home-brewing.

“Since university I’ve always made my own things. Some dodgy things, too. Why not? I like to drink. I still make my own Schnapps.”

Cutting his teeth as a cellar supervisor in New Zealand Ernst worked as the assistant wine maker and then a contract wine make at Origin Wines where he played around with all sorts of different alcohols. Some include RDA’s (ready to drink alcopops), which is embarrassing, but Ernst takes it on the chin.

“I see all alcoholic beverages in the same light. I’m not a beer snob like these other guys. I’ll drink anything.”

Having a commercial palate on the team is important. Things can change very quickly and you sometimes find that something that was great quality ten years ago was actually a mistake and so it swaps around.

Ernst’s beer of choice?
“The First Light. It’s the sessionable one.”

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