Posted in Beer on 05. Apr, 2012
The Mail & Guardian today released their Top 20 Wineries in South Africa list, as compiled by local wine journo Tim James. It’s a pretty solid selection of our best wineries, with the big-hitting oldies (think Kanonkop, Meerlust, Vergelegen) joining the really hot newbies (think Newtown Johnson, Sadie Family, Mullineux) in a list that I can’t really argue with. James took the opinion of 29 professionals, from critics and journos to retailers and sommeliers, to compile his list.
I thought since I have bugger all to add to that list, I’d just compile my own list, but of my top 20 beers in South Africa.
Note: I didn’t consult 29 professionals. No sommeliers, no retailers, no critics, no hobos or anybody. Jeez, I didn’t even aksk I just thrashed this out based on what I’d want to have waiting for me in my fridge when I get home most days.
Another note: Yes, some of these are local, some are foreign. Get over it. This is my list, if you don’t like it, go and make your own.
1. Darling Brew ‘Slow’
Yes, it’s a lager, but a bloody tasty one. Yeasty, rich and a touch of sweetness, and just wins first place because it’s available on tap. Contract brewed in Cape Town.
2. Brewers & Union ‘Berne’
Again, a lager, but an amber lager that is all caramel butterscotch toasty goodness. Get in my face. Contract brewed in Germany.
3. Triggerfish ‘Ocean Potion’
A local pale ale that is freaking awesome, up there with the best I’ve tasted in the US. I just need to get more, please. Brewed here in the Cape.
4. Paulaner ‘Weissbier’
You can’t go wrong with a good Weissbier and this my favourite, also best out the tap. Plenty of fresh citrus in there. Best enjoyed in the sunshine. Previously brewed in Cape Town, now imported from Germany.
5. Brewers & Union ‘Versus Goliath’
Eessentially another amber lager, similar to the Berne, but richer and sweeter, making it deadly drinkable. One won’t do. Contract brewed in Germany.
6. Camelthorn ‘Red American Ale’
Hello rich, medium-bodied ale with great bittersweet caramel flavours Yes, you, you’re delicious. Brewed in Namibia.
7. Devils Peak ‘Kings Blockhouse’ IPA
Knocked my socks off when I tried it last year for the first time. Quality IPA (Indian Pale Ale) not for the fainthearted or commercial lager lover. Bring it. Brewed in the Cape.
8. Brewers & Union ‘Steph Weiss’
Zippy, fresh Weiss with not too much citrus, but plenty great yeasty flavour. Best looking bottle around too. Contract brewed in Germany.
9. Coopers Pale Ale
It’s a family-owned Aussie beer, yes, and I’ve only just seen it on shelves (at Vino Pronto), but have made repeated pilgrammage to find it, because it’s great beer. Go find some! Brewed in Australia.
10. Robson’s East Coast Pale Ale
Delicious, tangy easy-drinking beer in what I’d say is a quasi pale ale style, thus only mildly bitter. Brewed in KZN.
11. Jack Black ‘Premium Lager’
On tap, still one of the most thirst-quenching-but-with-actual-flavour lagers around. Contract brewed in Cape Town.
12. Pilsner Urquell
Mass brewed, but the only pilsner that really delivers good flavour and body, nicely bitter too. Brewed (mostly) in Czech Republic.
13. Birkenhead ‘Honey Blonde’
Light and fresh ale, bit of a session-drinking beer. Their packaging is unsightly, so enjoy on tap when you can. Brewed in the Cape.
Who can argue that this rich, creamy stout isn’t the best stout around? Brewed in Ireland and about 5 million other countries.
15. Brewers & Union ‘Dark Lager’
Once you go black, you never go back. Actually, this is light enough you can switch to a regular lager after, if you feel like. Surprising but true. Contract brewed in Germany.
16. Mitchell’s Brewery ‘Bosuns Bitter’
Classic, English-style ale that’s not too heavy to drink, so you can enjoy several of over lunch. Or into the night. Or later. Brewed in the Cape.
17. Corona ‘Extra’
Commercial and as some say, “like having sex in a canoe – fucking close to water,” but undeniably refreshing on a hot day with a piece of lime dropped in. Brewed in Mexico.
18. Frankie Fenner ‘Unlabeled’
It doesn’t have a name, but if you go to Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and ask them for a sampler while rubbing your left earlobe and winking, you might get lucky. Home brewed in SA.
19. Boston Breweries ‘Van Hunks Pumpkin Ale’
Not sure how available this stuff still is, but for a flavoured beer is rather impressive and worth enjoying. Brewed in Cape Town.
20. Carling ‘Black Label’
Aka Zamalek, this beer, drunk out of a quart, is what refreshing mass-produced lager should taste like. A South African legend and you can find it EVERYWHERE. Brewed in SA.
Probably left a few goodies off, but hey, everyone has their own list. Make your own. If it’s too short, drink more beer.
Links to most of these breweries…
darlingbrew.co.za, brewersandunion.com, triggerfishbrewing.co.za, camelthornbrewing.com, shongwenibrewery.com, coopers.com.au, jackblackbeer.com, bostonbreweries.co.za, mitchellsbrewery.com, pilsnerurquell.com, guinness.com, corona.com