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South African Craft Beer: Should Wine Be Worried? (Part 1/3)

21 Things To Do: Darling BrewA month or so ago, the first ever Cape Town We Love Beer Craft Beer Festival took place at (where else?) the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock and, we believe here at 21 Things to Do, heralds a bit of a renaissance in beer that actually tastes of something. And so we’ve done a bit of research and, voila, a brief introduction to the heady brews on offer…

Darling Brew, a quirky name to go with its quirky home, is very fine and very young – eight months young to be precise. And a very tasty youth it is, if you get my drift. Available in 500ml bottles and in a few places on draught, it is well worth seeking out. Next door to Darling Brew was Birkenhead Brewery – or, at least, their table was. They weren’t there while I was but maybe they appeared later. Luckily for you, dear reader, there’s a blogpiece on Stanford’s wine and food delights coming up that reviews their wide and sometimes dangerous range – all of which are pretty fine too. They’re also more readily available in bottle stores than most and are now mostly pasteurised to prolong their shelf life. This is anathema to most micro-brewers: NOT a natural process, but beloved of mothers everywhere for its bug-destroying properties. But as beer is not prescribed baby food in most households, Birkenhead, consider yourself complete wooses and properly bitch-slapped…

Then there was Jack Black, brewed in Salt River and already a bit of a local legend – as was the real Jack Black, who made beer in Prohibition America in the 1920s. Now you can get it in a wide range of restaurants and bars in Cape Town – it’s a darkish lager in the manner of Darling Brew. Also way better than any SAB product but then it won’t last as long, nor will it be available all over the country. Perhaps we don’t want it to be…Next to Jack Black was Brewers & Union, who have gone into craft brewing in quite a big way. They’ve created a range of seven beers under the auspices of a thing called the Gabriel Collective (not sure of the story there: maybe go ask them, since I failed to). What they do have, their beers, is cool labels and German origins, imported as they are then labelled and marketed here in South Africa. Because they’re imported, they’re not going to be cheap but they will compete head on with other imports – and they will look better in your hand. Sadly, I can’t answer for their taste but we should definitely give them the benefit of the doubt as they are fairly passionate about what they eat and drink at &Union. Check out their website for a lot more detail – better still, visit their Beer Salon at 110 Bree Street and try them out with their charcuterie. Or, if you dare, mail pigandbeer@andunion.com! Coming up next, an old favourite, Mitchell’s Brewery. Follow this blog for the next update!

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