3 great local breweries to visit for craft beer tastings

While you’ll find top-notch craft beer at bars and restaurants across Cape Town, it’s always cool to go to the source for a beer tasting at a local craft brewery. Lucy Corne, a respected beer judge and author of South African beer guide Beer Safari, shares a few of her favourites.

The Taproom at the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company is the go-to for craft brewers, because the beer is good, the food is good and it’s a very cool space. It ticks all the boxes. They’re always open and they have food available.

The Riot Factory at The Palms Centre in Woodstock is also very good, but they’re not open very often.

Another good venue in Woodstock is the Brewer’s Co-Op, which was started by about 15 brewers who all clubbed together and bought the brewing equipment.

The brewers have a schedule where they can each use the facilities to brew their own beers, and they’re all available on tap, so there are loads and loads of beers to try.

You can expect up to 20 beers at a time, and because they really just want people to sample their beer they keep it really affordable.

Cape Town’s classic craft beer: what to take your first sips of

You’ve landed in Cape Town, the sun is shining and you’re dying for a taste of Cape Town’s craft beer — beer produced by small, independent breweries. But where to start amid the many local craft brews? Lucy Corne, a respected beer judge known as the “the Brewmistress of Cape Town”, points you in the right direction.

The classic craft beer in Cape Town? It’s hardly an original answer, but I’d say you’d have to start with the King’s Blockhouse IPA (India Pale Ale) from the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company.

It’s not really a South African style of beer — it’s an American-style IPA — but it has won lots of awards and was really the first heavily-hopped American-style beer brewed in South Africa. It’s not a beer for first-timers, but it’s a really great IPA.

Another great beer to try is the Jack Black lager. It wasn’t the first craft beer in South Africa, but I’d say it was instrumental in launching the craft beer scene in the country. South Africa is a country of lager lovers, so it’s very much a South African beer too.

Cape Town’s on trend with its growing craft cider movement

Hot on the heels of the craft beer movement, craft cider is also gaining traction in Cape Town. A hip, young brand is producing two ciders you just have to try.

Across the world the sales of cider and perry (cider made from pears, not apples) are booming, and South Africa is no exception. In fact, Australia and South Africa are both seen as the new frontier for handcrafted cider, with South Africa amongst the top 10 countries worldwide for cider consumption in dollar value.

So it’s no surprise that the craft cider movement is gathering steam in Cape Town, with the most exciting new addition being Sxollie. This hip young cider brand embraces the colourful entrepreneurialism you’ll find across Africa. The name is a play on the word “skollie”, which in South Africa means a street hustler with the gift of the gab to spin a few deals. While you won’t get taken for a ride on a bottle of Sxollie, you will find two delicious offerings that are unique in the local market for offering single-varietal ciders.

The Golden Delicious is on the sweeter end of the spectrum, while the Perry is deliciously dry and a great match with food. A Granny Smith cider is also in the pipeline, so watch this space. You’ll find them all at leading liquor retailers and top bars and restaurants, such as The Pot Luck Club in Woodstock — the more casual of award-winning chef Luke Dale Roberts’ two Cape Town restaurants.

Another cider worth a try is that from Cluver & Jack. Their “Everyday Cider” uses tart Granny Smith apples as a base, with the other varieties kept secret. It’s a crisp, refreshing cider bursting with fresh apple flavours and a great match for food.

Ceramicist shapes old Cape heritage into new art

Since opening his design studio and shop, Chandler House, in Cape Town’s city centre in 2012, Michael Chandler’s ceramic pieces have attracted attention thanks to their historical references and quirky aesthetic. Underpinning it all is his interest in the Cape’s unique craft and design heritage and traditional decorative arts. He tells us more about his Cape-inspired craft.

I’d describe my work as carefully considered, made with different materials…to produce pieces that have a lyrical or whimsical appeal – or pieces that evoke our Cape design heritage in new ways.

My design and creative process really depends on each piece. Usually an idea strikes me at the most bizarre hour, and if I can, I write it down in one of my notebooks as I imagine it. I then go over a few scribbled versions of it until I’m happy with the final design and then I work with some of our talented Cape craftspeople to bring it to life. Sometimes it comes out just the way I had imagined and sometimes even better. I love working with other people – collaboration is very underrated.

I was really honoured to be featured in the book Craft Art in South Africa by Elbe Coetzee, as well as having three works of mine included in an exhibition at the South African National Gallery curated by Carol Kaufmann. I’m really excited to see that my interest in blue and white ceramics and its connection to the Cape is not just shared by others, but also being introduced to new audiences.

My shop-cum-studio-cum-gallery is located in a beautiful 18th-century Cape Georgian heritage townhouse in Cape Town’s city centre. It is positioned in Church Street, a one-way street of galleries, cafés, an auction house, jewellers, architects, design stores and more, so it’s very inspiring to be in this little hub of creativity. I enjoy bumping into all these people and sharing ideas and experiences as we go about our lives in the street.

Drop in for a drink with the Devil at this top craft brewery

Few craft breweries in Cape Town have built a following as loyal as the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company in up-and-coming Salt River. Here’s why…

It’s fitting that the view through the towering picture windows at the Devil’s Peak Taproom, in the gritty suburb of Salt River on the border of the Cape Town’s city’s centre, is the sandstone bulk of the mountain that lent its name to (arguably) the most successful craft brewery in Cape Town.

The head brewer at Devil’s Peak Brewing Company, JC Steyn, spent almost a decade making wine in the vineyards of Stellenbosch (a 20-minute drive from the city), before swapping merlot for malt in 2013, and beer-lovers are all the better for it.

Steyn has crafted a remarkable range of beers under Devil’s Peak’s eye-catching labels. Although their beers are available at leading liquor stores and restaurants, the Taproom is the best place to have a taste of the brews, with both their Founders and Explorers Series on tap here. The former includes the much-loved India Pale Ale and Amber Ale, while the Explorers varies according to what’s come out of the tanks that week. Look out for the double-hopped Imperial IPA.

If you’re lucky they’ll also have their barrel-matured “Vannie Hout” on offer, or perhaps the wine-beer hybrid Vin de Saison, made with one-fifth Chenin Blanc from the Swartland wine region.

The Taproom also dishes up superb beer-friendly food, with the pulled pork sandwich and gourmet burger legendary amongst local beer-lovers.

Easy beer tasting routes in and around Cape Town

With the craft beer trend in full swing across Cape Town, the range of small-scale breweries makes it easy to string together a beer route just for you, says Lucy Corne, a respected beer judge and author of South African beer guide Beer Safari.

If you have wheels then you shouldn’t be drinking, which makes the suburb of Woodstock a great option. You can walk between the breweries in Woodstock, with most of them contained within a three-kilometre stretch. There’s the Riot Brewery, the Brewers Co-Op and of course the Devil’s Peak Brewing Company and its Taproom.

If you have a designated driver, the beer route along the N1 freeway outside of Cape Town is another option.

Wild Clover, next to the Villiera wine estate in Stellenbosch (a 20-minute drive from the city centre), is amazing for families. Wild Clover has a ball-pool and a castle and a petting farm, while for older kids they have mountain bikes and cycling trails.

The Wagon Trail Brewery at Anura Vineyards is also nearby and has a very cool American brewpub vibe. From here you can also hop over to the Cape Brewing Company (CBC) on the Spice Route Estate, which is also a very family-friendly venue.