We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but beer culture has taken off in Cape Town and we-are-loving-it! Not a year ago, micro-brewed beer was an option only available to patrons of Mitchell’s Brewery in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront and the bigger breweries held a tight monopoly. Just a few years later, however, and there are microbreweries popping up all over the place, and many restaurants and pubs sell a variety of craft and locally brewed beer to a salivating audience.
So what is craft beer? According to gurus at The Craft Beer Project, Craft beer is the golden liquid that is made by hand, without chemicals, and can contain other flavourants along with the traditional barley, hops and water.
A little while back we gave you a run down on where to enjoy craft beer in Cape Town, but since the scene has grown so dramatically, we thought we would give you an update. According to beer-specialists, Banana Jam Café, there are now over 40 craft breweries across South Africa, many of them right on our doorstep in the Cape. Due to the growing demand and with more restaurants adopting a variety of craft brewed beers on their menus, it was a natural shift for more specialised beer peddling establishments to open their doors.
The new, and very popular, Beerhouse is a prime example of a growing beer culture, hosting over 90 beers of different types and flavours. They also offer a delicious, German-style menu making this Long Street establishment a regular Friday-night watering hole, or any other day of the week for that matter.
Whilst beer culture is on the rise, so Hipster culture defines the trends in Cape Town’s urban fringe. Similarly to other large cities worldwide, the immediate area surrounding the Cape Town CBD, namely Woodstock, is becoming more and more trendy, akin to New York’s meatpacking district. Urban gentrification sees old factories and warehouses turned into stylish restaurants and apartment blocks.
Housed in an old clothing factory in the heart of Woodstock, the Devil’s Peak Tap Room is no different. The beer here is brewed on site, and in fact, all produce served is locally made in the Cape, making it even more appealing to “proudly Capetownian” locals. The industrial-chic décor, is a crowd pleaser along with the simple but elegant menu. Unlike beerhouse, The Tap Room is slightly less accessible, being outside of the city, but this seems to please the local crowd with its accidental exclusivity. The furniture is quirky but comfortable as you sit and watch the city through large floor to ceiling windows.
Staying with beer-centric establishments, The Wembley Tap is soon to open, boasting the largest range of craft beers the city has ever seen. Situated in the East City lifestyle centre, Wembley Square, this beer-mecca will open its doors on October 24th. The 30 vintage beer taps will rotate through 150 local and imported craft beers and there will be a selection of over 200 bottle beers to choose from. With a relaxed feel and a large indoor and outdoor area to enjoy their brews and pub-grub, The Wembley Tap is sure to be a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike.
Steering slightly outside of the city to the iconic Hout Bay area, Cape Town claims the fairly new craft and food market – the Bay Harbour Market. After spending the morning shopping in the endless selection of stalls, patrons can sit down for a craft beer and a hearty meal. The selection of beer on offer is small but covers the necessities – on tap and in the bottle. They offer an Amber Ale, Lager and Golden Ale on tap and a range of the Devils Peak brews and Darling Slow beer, as well as a couple of craft ciders. The food is also more than enough to make the trip worthwhile, with favourites such as slow-cooked lamb on ciabatta, whole crustaceans and fresh seafood as well as the fresh vegetable salads on offer.
While these artisan beer houses are the newest on the scene, old favourites still aim to please such as the Banana Jam Café, and also Jamaica me Crazy offering a wide selection of 90-odd bottle and tap craft beers, including their own brew. This is not surprising however, as both Caribbean themed restaurants are owned by beer fundi Eric Van Heerden, who is the brew master at Triggerfish Breweries in Somerset West. He is passionate about all things beer and wants to share his passion with Cape Town.
The great thing about beer culture is that it crosses social boundaries – yuppies and backpackers alike come together to drink beer and with so many beers available these days, there is an option for everyone. And if you don’t like those options, why not try your hand at your own home brew, which is easy when there are a number of home brewing kits available to buy in Cape Town – try BeerLab or DIYbeer.
Where have you enjoyed a good craft beer lately? Share your experiences with us on our Facebook Page.