A Craft Beer Guide to Cape Town
The rise of craft beers in Cape Town has been rapid. Capetonians will no longer assault their gullets with mass-produced lagers. They want variety and they want quality.
I spoke to Martin Tucker, owner of The Beer Merchant, and one of the organisers of the Cape Town Festival of Beer, to get a better understanding of craft beer around the city. Basically I wanted a guide on what the Mother City has on tap. He broke the market down into three different categories: breweries, tap rooms and places.
There are a number of breweries around Cape Town, but not all offer walkthroughs or tastings. For a lot of micro-brewers, it is a hobby, meaning they do not have the facilities or the time to cater to guests. CBC in Paarl does a walkthrough, while other breweries include Woodstock Brewery, Garagista, Hautespoit (Franschoek), Hoenengklip, Birkenhead, Red Sky Brew and Apollo Brewing.
Taprooms are a great way to sample craft beers and Cape Town has some incredible ones to choose from with Devils Peak, Trigger Fish and Wild Clover all top spots for tastings. Devils Peak and Trigger Fish also have impressive menus so you can grab a bite to eat along with your choice of brew.
PLACES TO DRINK… AND EAT:
For the most part, if you’re looking to try a variety of beers, you are going to need to visit the restaurants and bars that stock them. There are not that many breweries with tap rooms. Lucky for you then that Cape Town has plenty of places to tap into the craft beer market. The Taproom, Banana Jam, Beer House, Den Anker, Anura, Craft (Stellenbosch), Slow Quarter (Darling) and Wild Beast (Stellenbosch) are all options for thirsty – and hungry – travellers.
Festivals are a brilliant way to sample a large variety of craft beers in one space. Unfortunately, there aren’t many festivals to choose from with the Cape Town Festival of Beer – this weekend, so get tickets! – and the South Yeasters Summer Festival your best bets. The CT Festival of Beer is the biggest of its kind, with more than 200 beers available, as well as a huge variety of foods and entertainment on offer. The South Yeasters is organised by the Home Brewers Club of the Western Cape and has 60 breweries involved in the event.
TIPS FOR YOUR FORAY INTO CRAFT BEER:
Martin has some handy advice for those seeking out new beers. First, visit a place with a large range, like Beer House or Banana Jam, or a festival, then when you find your favoured brew visit the brewery or tap room to get stuck in!
He also advises not going purely on price. Expensive does not mean good. All foreign imports are subject to different taxes and for all you know, the German Weiss you are shelling out your hard-earned cash for is the cheapest on offer back in Germany!