Craft Beer Scene in South Africa

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Greenslopes, Brisbane
I just got back from a holiday in Africa for a month. Went through South Africa, Botswana Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda and back to SA. In my experience it is not possible to get an ale of any sort except the occasional Guinness in any of those countries except SA. However if you like lager they do it pretty well in all those places - the choice is pale all-malt lager, pale lager with malt and rice/maize or pale lager with malt, rice/maize and sugar. Each country has at least 3 different brands.

I had heard SA, and in particular, Cape Town was having a bit of a craft beer explosion so I was keen to check it out. There was certainly a fair bit of it around and they were very keen to promote it. A lot of the pubs have a "craft beer" section where they have all separate fonts for these beers, while the lagers like Castle and Heineken are on their individual fonts with heaps of branding. The beers themselves are a mixed bag. They are not huge on really hoppy beers. Probably the most common craft brewery is CBC - Cape Town Brewing Co. On tap you can find their Lager, Pilsner, Krystal Weiss, Amber Weiss and mandarina bavaria IPA usually. Really the big guys probably do a better lager than either the CBC pils or lager. The Weisses are ok. Not a fan of the mandarina bavaria IPA. It's not that far off a kolsch really.

There is a little brewery called Tuk-Tuk in a little wine town called Franschhoek. They did quite a good pale ale and double IPA. Quite nice with good hop aroma. They too do a lager, pilsner and weiss that are nothing to rave about.

I had a brown ale from a bottle shop that was clearly infected from the first taste. yuck.

The somewhat famous Mitchells Brewery and alehouse in Capetown was a big disappointment. Their house IPA was terrible. No hop flavour or aroma at all. They claimed 45 IBU or something but it tasted more like a corona than an IPA.

Overall I pretty much gave up on beer once we left Franschhoek and stuck to the excellent wine. It's also worth noting everything is so cheap in SA. You can get a really nice bottle wine for $20 at a restaurant. Something that would be at least $100 here. I got a 2006 bottle of Cab Sav that was amazing for $30 from a cellar door. you'd pay $150 here. The beer was cheap too. Usually$2-$3 a pint. In Zimbabwe/Zambia/Uganda/Rwanda a 500ml bottle of lager can be had for $1-2.

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