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.
Travellers to Cape Town love exploring the wine routes that spread inland from the city, but a new route linking the ‘Brandy Homes’ of the winelands is also well worth a drive.
The vineyards that fan out from Cape Town are justifiably famous for producing world-class wines, but amidst the vines you’ll also find distilleries turning out award-winning brandies.
To help travellers discover the charming distilleries of the Western Cape, the SA Brandy Foundation has linked together the “Brandy Homes” of the winelands into a road trip that will introduce you to the finest brandy—or brandewyn (“burnt wine”) as it is known in Afrikaans—South Africa can produce. Don’t forget though, drinking and driving is both illegal and irresponsible so ensure there is a sober designated driver at all times.
In and around the towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl there are plenty of wonderful distilleries to visit, including the likes of Upland and Tokara. However, if there’s one you shouldn’t miss out on it’s the Van Ryn’s Distillery, where well-informed guides walk you through the process from grape to glass.
If you have a little more time on your hands, take the N1 highway out of Cape Town and turn right onto Route 62. This world-famous wine route stretches for hundreds of kilometres, but within an easy day’s drive from Cape Town you’ll discover superb brandy distilleries.
There’s Kingna, set on a working apricot, peach and grape farm a short drive from Montagu; and on the outskirts of the quirky Klein Karoo town of Barrydale the Barrydale Cellar’s Joseph Barry range of brandies offer excellent value.
Closer to Cape Town, the Klipdrift distillery in Robertson offers a superb brandy experience: an exhibition reveals the long history of this iconic South African brand, followed by a tour through the distillery and a tasting of the four unique “Klippies” brandies.
Beer. Chocolate. Even grappa. You’ll find a unique combination of artisanal products – and great wine – at The Spice Route estate in Paarl, a 40-minute drive from Cape Town.
Many estates in the winelands around Cape Town focus on one product: wine. Spice Route, however, goes further to become a one-stop shop for a range of goods from wine to beer, chocolate and more.
The reason it works so well is that great care has been taken in the selection of a range of artisanal producers whose produce perfectly complements the wine.
First and foremost, Spice Route is well worth visiting for the wine alone. The brainchild of Charles Back, owner of neighbouring estate Fairview, Spice Route was one of the first wineries to make use of the older vineyards of the Swartland wine region north of Cape Town. The result is a range of superb wines that will remind wine lovers of the Rhone valley and Languedoc. Their Mourvedre and Grenache are superb, as is the Rhone-style blend, Chakalaka.
Once you’ve sipped and swirled your way through a wine tasting it’s essential to explore the rest of the estate. Bean-to-bar chocolate-maker Pieter de Villiers moved his small facility from Hermanus to Spice Route in early 2012 and today turns out wonderful artisan chocolates. Your best option here is a guided tasting, where you’ll sample their 70% single-origin bars made with beans from Trinidad, Uganda and Madagascar.
Down the hill you’ll find the Wilderer Distillery, where you can taste the delicious range of grappa and fruit spirits from Master Distiller Helmut Wilderer. Alongside the distillery, their casual La Grapparia Restaurant offers wood-fired pizza, flammkuchen and tapas at rustic outdoor tables.
Lastly, don’t miss the Cape Brewing Company run by respected brewmaster Wolfgang Koedel. He brews up a range of excellent beers, including a pilsner, weiss and India Pale Ale. Enjoy a guided tasting in the brewery, or hop next door for a beer and a bite at the Barley & Biltong brewpub.