The Western Cape of South Africa is well known as the largest wine producing region in the country. But, the region is also fast up and coming as a producer of craft beer and cider. It is home to a number of boutique, microbreweries, with estimates suggesting that there are more craft brewers in the Western Cape than in Gauteng.
Craft brewers are different from their mass market counterparts in their use of artisanal manufacturing processes, small production runs and distinguishing flavours. It is the opportunity to try new and innovative ales produced by the hands of local artisans that has such wide appeal, making craft beer a significantly growing trend.
“The market for craft beer in South Africa has exploded in recent years, perhaps a little behind the USA, Germany and the UK, but it has taken off. People are keen to explore more diverse, natural varieties of beer; the more local, the better.
“International guests to Cape Town are especially keen to explore artisanal beers that are produced right here in the Western Cape. Trying locally produced food and drink makes their experience of the Cape more authentic,” says Marc Weber at The Table Bay, which recently became the first five star hotel in South Africa to develop its own craft beer with Cape-based craft brewing company, Darling Brewery. Its Wild Legend Weiss is an aromatic Krystal Weiss Beer, brewed with Western Cape culture and climate in mind.
Much like touring wine farms on the wine route, touring craft breweries dotted across the region and exploring their small batch brews has become a must-do for visitors to the Western Cape. “We love our guests to explore the authentic, unique, experiential activities that allow them to gather a touch of Cape Town and make good memories. Visiting local microbreweries and brew-pubs is one of them,” says Marc.
Nearby The Table Bay, on historic Albert Road, in the heart of Cape Town’s creative hub of Woodstock, stands a very special nano brewery. The Woodstock Brewers’ Co-op, where 16 enthusiastic, talented brewers all brew under one roof, has been going strong since June of 2015. There beer explorers can enjoy a pint of Bugler’s, Three Legged Cat, Dutch Courage, Hophazard and a dozen more, right there in the attached bar.
Where large-scale brewing offers homogeneity, the Woodstock Co-op offers endless diversity. There are 16 taps to choose from, with every beer lovingly crafted only a few metres away. The brewers continually experiment and refine, and challenge themselves to come up with interesting, innovative beers. This philosophy results in unique brews with personality, from a light, easy lager to a rich, dark chocolate stout, and everything in between, be it a Belgian lambic or a Rooibos blonde ale. The brew, Fire Brewed, is inspired by the brewers’ passion for the voluntary fire fighting teams that protect the nature reserves in the Cape. Each brew has a distinctive smokiness to align with the name.
In addition to these regular-ish brews, special edition batches are made to reflect the season, or a holiday, or, well, any excuse to make new and exciting beer.
The brewers need little convincing to talk about brewing so, if visitors want to take a tour of the microbrewery, learn about beer, participate in a brew or even make a brew, it can be arranged.
Around Cape Town, there are several other small breweries which offer walkthroughs and tastings. Darling Brewery, responsible for The Table Bay’s signature weiss beer, is about an hour’s drive out of Cape Town in the quaint town of darling on the West Coast. The brewery introduced the concept of Slow Beer, an unhurried fermentation process. Darling Brew has a collection of 11 beers and includes a light lager, a pale ale and an Indian ale. The signature drink is an extreme lager named Slow Beer, which is complemented by an ever growing range of Darling Brew beers including Silver Back, Rogue Pony, Gypsy Mask, Thunder Bird, Sungazer, Black Mist, Bone Crusher and Slow Beer. Find more info here
The tasteroom, operated by Flying Pig CureSmiths, offers a locally sourced smoke house menu where the concept of slow beer and slow food truly come together. The menu includes a variety of artisanal tapas, salads and slow-cured meat dishes based on traditional recipes with a number of beer pairings. More info here
Visit the website for more details on The Table Bay