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August 17, 2012

Craft Beers at the V&A Waterfront

If you’re at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and have a fancy for speciality beer, then I have three must-visit  places you need to stop at.

Den Anker – Belgian restaurant and bar

Location: Pierhead, V&A Waterfront

Contact: +27 (0)21 419 0249

Website: www.denanker.co.za

If you are keen for a taste of Belgian beer then there is no other place you should visit than Den Anker at the V&A Waterfront. There is a specific beer menu with some 16 imported Belgian beers. Four of these beers are on tap, including the establishment's very own Anker beer, especially made for the restaurant. The recipe for this beer was conceived by the late owner and the beer is produced in Belgium and flown to South Africa. You can opt to try all four as a beer tasting for R45.

Unfortunately, on the day I visited they were out of Augustijn, but the others were:

  • Blanche de Bruxelles, a refreshing white beer (wheat) with a fresh and mellow flavour.
  • De Koninck, a lightly amber-coloured beer typical of Antwerp.
  • Anker Bier, brewed in Belgium exclusively for Den Anker. The beer is refermented in the barrel en route to South Africa.

If there is one beer you should try it must be the Kwak! At 8.9%, it is one of the stronger beers, but that is not why you should order it. It comes in its own special glass – well, all Belgian beers have their own unique glasses, but this one is especially unique as it has a round bottom and wooden holder.

The fact that you have to hand over your left shoe until you have finished the beer is quirky in its own right. Says Den Anker: “These glasses are extremely expensive and difficult to replace, which is why we keep your left shoe until we get our glass back. This is a Belgian custom which we’ve brought to Cape Town. We’ll keep your shoe in the basket hanging from the rafters until you’re done. Don’t worry, we keep air freshener at hand. No shoe. No Kwak.

The Kwak pours golden-brown with a beautiful head. The flavour is complex, with sweet notes of caramel and brown sugar.

There is no better place to enjoy a fine day with views of Table Mountain while sipping on a Belgian beer than at Den Anker.

Mitchell’s Brewery

Location: Ground Floor, Market Square, V&A Waterfront

Contact: +27 (0)21 419 5074

Website: www.mitchellsbreweries.co.za

If you are in the mood for local beer, because, as the saying goes, “Local is good,” then you must visit Mitchell’s Brewery, which has six locally brewed beers on tap. The six beers brewed and served on tap are as follows:

  • Forester's Lager (3.6% alcohol): A refreshing pilsner-type beer light in colour and body. This delicious beer is lightly hopped, slightly sweet, pleasing to the palate and has a faint aroma. Forester’s is an invigorating drink on a hot day.
  • Bosun's Bitter (3.6% alcohol): The first "real ale" produced in South Africa, modelled on the English Yorkshire Bitter. Bosun’s is full of body and character and not too bitter. This beer has much to offer those looking for robust flavour.
  • 90 Shilling Ale (5%): 90 Shilling is a spicy ale with a gloriously round, full palate. This traditional Scottish ale will take you back in time as you savour the complex aromatic notes and full-bodied amber glow. (I was interested to hear that Mitchell’s was sold to a Scottish brewery years ago and has since been bought back, and this was how the 90 Shilling Ale was formed.)
  • Raven Stout (5% alcohol): A black, medium strength milk stout full of flavour. Raven Stout is well balanced and exhibits a pronounced bitter and distinct hop aroma.
  • Milk & Honey Ale (5% alcohol): Milk & Honey is a slightly darker, robust ale. It has a touch of lactose and a drop of honey to sweeten things up. A beer to be treated with care and enjoyed on any occasion.
  • Old Wobbly Lager (7% alcohol): With a bold and alluring flavour, this draught packs a proverbial punch. Some have referred to its aroma as that of a sunny meadow, but anyone who has tasted this malt knows that it deserves respect.

If you are not sure which one to taste, I recommend the R50 tasting that includes all six plus a Mitchell’s key ring. There is also a Paulaner beer on tap for those that enjoy Weiss beer.

Mitchell’s has a traditional pub feel, offering outside seating. There always seems to be great food specials. Current ones include:

  • 350g T-bone with a half pint of Amstel beer for R78.50
  • 350g Rump Steak with Heineken R97.50

Ferryman’s Tavern

Location: Ground Floor, Market Square, V&A Waterfront
Contact: +27 (0)21 419 7748
Website: www.ferrymans.co.za   

Right next door to Mitchell’s is Ferryman’s, which opened in 1989 and is a popular venue for locals and tourists alike. Ferryman’s only has a single beer bearing its name – the Ferryman’s Ale (5%), which is a heavy, spicy ale with complex aromatics and a full-bodied amber glow.

The tavern also stocks a few Mitchell’s beers, such as Forester’s Lager and Bosun’s Bitter, as well as some international favourites like Guinness and Kilkenny. When I visited I got to look behind the bar at the keg system. See the picture below.

Like Mitchell’s, Ferryman’s offers great food specials. These are:

  • 300g Rump plus Amstel R85
  • 500g T-bone plus Windhoek R95

Ferryman’s has a large outside seating area and a play gym for kids. In summer I’ve seen Ferryman’s braaing (BBQ) lunchtime meals. This is the perfect place to soak up some sun and taste local braai flavours with local beer.

For more information about these craft breweries and bars, please visit www.waterfront.co.za.

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