Thirsty? Here’s What’s Brewing in Cape TownBy Sandra MacGregor
Thanks to an array of world-class wineries on its doorstep, Cape Town has always been a favorite destination for oenophiles. In recent years, however, the city’s drinking scene has been decidedly hop-heavy, with a plethora of breweries opening in the Mother City to slake South Africa’s thirst for artisanal ales.
Here are five that will get you tapped into Cape Town’s craft beer movement.
Jack Black’s Brewing Co.
Arguably the most accessible — and certainly one of the largest — craft brew companies in the country, Jack Black’s opened in 2007 when the micro industry in South Africa was just starting to rev up.
The brewery prides itself on offering a range of beers for every palate, whether you’re into easy-drinking pale ales or intense dark ambers.
Its flagship Brewers Lager is a full-bodied, balanced beer, while its ominously named Skeleton Coast pleases adventurous beer drinkers who appreciate a lot of hop-i-tude.
The taproom is always bustling thanks to a tasty food menu, with the homemade Butcher Block burger consistently winning rave reviews.
Devil’s Peak Brewing Company
Only opened in 2012, Devil’s Peak is South Africa’s most award-winning craft beer company. With a focus on innovation, its Afrofunk sour facility houses the largest barrel-aging beer program in the country and will give many Capetonians their first taste of trendy, old-is-new-again sour-style beers.
Devil’s Peak has already expanded to two locations in the city, and both serve food as well as beer. Try The King’s Blockhouse IPA, which is a hearty, hop-forward World Beer Award winner, or you can sample some experimental brews thanks to a rotating tap selection of barrel-aged, limited-edition picks.
This small but respected producer is the first black South African–owned brewery in Cape Town. Owner and brewmaster Lethu Tshabangu named his company in honor of the clay pot (the ukhamba) that southern African tribespeople would fill with homemade beer and pass around in groups.
Currently the company brews three beer varieties: Pursuit of Hoppyness, Utywala and State Capture. If you’re looking for a taste of an authentic South African beer rooted in centuries-old tradition, Utywala is your best bet. This sorghum saison beer is based on a recipe for umqombothi, a traditional beer made of sorghum malt, maize, yeast and water.
Located in Cape Town’s hip Woodstock neighborhood, at this brewery, you’ll always get a warm—if raucous—welcome. When its doors opened in 2010, Woodstock Brewery’s expertly crafted ales helped cement the district’s reputation as the city’s premier location for artisanal foods and drinks.
The taproom always features five year-round beers, including Hazy Daze, a South African National Beer Trophy gold medal winner. There are also up to five other taps dedicated to seasonal or specialty beers, offering a wonderful chance to try the producer’s take on sour beer and porter.
Above the taproom you’ll find the Woodstock Grill and Tap, which features a solid selection of steaks and a large outdoor patio.
If you’re pressed for time but really want to experience as much of the Cape Town craft brew scene as possible, head to the Brewers Co-Op. This one-of-a-kind, self-described “nano brewery” features 16 taps serving the creative concoctions of multiple independent brewers.
Fostering a sense of community, as well as a love of beer, is the main goal of this passionate co-op that also has educational tastings and training on how to make your own brew. The taps are constantly updated as new brewers get an opportunity to show off their skills with suds.
On occasion, craft cider and even cocktails are also available. The patient willingness of the enthusiastic staff to answer questions makes it a superb place to come for newbies who are just discovering what craft beer is all about.