A beginners guide to craft beer in Cape Town
Personally, I don’t really like beer (unless it has some lemonade in it!), but I do know that most South Africans absolutely love beer. So I decided to see what all the fuss was about and put myself to the test so I could bring you this guide to understanding craft beer in Cape Town.
Just about everywhere you go in the city, you will be bombarded with a veritable buffet of beers from local brewers and there’s no doubt that craft beer is well loved in the Mother City. There are currently more than 150 beer styles to choose from and craft beer is a rapidly growing industry around the world.
First of all I needed to figure out what kind of beer I should be drinking, and I found the sheer number of beer styles somewhat overwhelming. With all of the different beer styles and beer names sometimes it is tough to remember what differentiates one beer from another. I compiled this brief guide but since I am still a beer beginner, I’ve broken it down into four basic categories (but the real beer aficionados can of course go much further than I can.)
Beer Basics 101:
Lagers are traditionally the most common type of beer drunk in South Africa. To qualify as a lager, the beer uses a process of cool fermentation and is followed by maturation in cold storage. Lagers can be pale, golden amber, or dark and traditionally these brews have a bready, malt flavour profile. Lagers have a very delicate impact on the palate and feel clean and refreshing.
Ale has been around as long as bread and has been a staple since medieval times. To be classified as an ale the fermentation process must take place at high temperatures as the yeast develops in the top of the tank. Ales are generally more savory and range in colour from straw to amber. While not particularly malty or hoppy, ales tend to show off a bit more of a fruity flavour from the use of ale yeast.
Unlike the other beers here that are made from grain, weiss beers are made from wheat and are one of the older styles of beer. Wheat has much more protein in it than barley and this protein creates a cloudy look in most wheat beers, which is where their name springs from, meaning ‘white’ in German. They are known for their fruity smell, which is often compared to vanilla or bananas and they have no hoppy aroma at all.
Stouts are the roastiest and driest of the brews and are made from roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. The darkest of the beers, many stouts are complex with beautiful roundness and have even been described as silky. You can find dry versions that are perfect for an evening at the pub.
So after getting through the basics I needed to research who was making a splash in the craft beer scene. I’ve compiled a list of some lekker locals who are passionate about craft beer in Cape Town and where you can find them.
Cape Brewing Co – Paarl Cape Town
CBC is famous for their gorgeous range of weiss beers and with brewmaster Wolfgang Koedel at the helm, CBC is going places. Wolfgang uses his 30 years of brewing experience and a combination of only best raw ingredients and his passion for purity and taste, to create local craft beers that are available just about anywhere in Cape Town.
Devil’s Peak Brewing Co – Epping Cape Town
Devil’s Peak is a popular brand among Captonians – even their name and logo is a Cape Town landmark. This brewery is passionate about creating beers with loads of flavour, character and depth using ingredients from around the world. Devil’s Peak has two venues – Salt River and Epping – where you can go for tastings and sample their latest wares. Their beers can also be readily found in your nearest restaurant, bar or liquor store.
Noon Gun Brewery – Muizenberg Cape Town
Noon Gun Brewery is located in Muizenberg and started out as a storage facility that over time morphed into a beer-brewing powerhouse. These guys are really, really passionate about their products and have sampled and produced everything from the indigenous pale ales of India to exciting concoctions laced with interesting ingredients. Beer – for beer lovers – by beer lovers, this brewery is definitely one for you to check out next time you are in Muizenberg.
Ukhamba Beerworx – Woodstock Cape Town
Woodstock is a popular place for craft beer in Cape Town, and Ukhamba is one you should be keeping an eye on. The owner, Lethu Tshabangu, began his journey to beer brewer from humble beginnings as a bartender where his passion developed into a business and soon after that Ukhamba Beerworx was born. Ukhama beers are stocked in bottle stores and restaurants or you can drop by and get a taste from the source.
Woodstock Brewery – Woodstock Cape Town
Another Woodstock favourite, Woodstock Brewery began when Andre Viljoen bought the building off of the internet, using Google Street View. From here he grew it from the ground up until the Woodstock brand grew to be a popular favourite all over South Africa. The brewers are always playing around with new flavours and techniques and constantly creating new and exciting brews that luckily for us are stocked in various liquor outlets country wide.
So there you have it, even though I still prefer my grapes to grains, I wasn’t converted into being a beer drinker. I hope this guide to craft beer in Cape Town was fun and helpful to all the beer lovers out there. Cheers to you!