Thirst aid

Thirst aid

Nick Dall raises his glass to SA’s best artisanal breweries

Western Cape

Drink your fill in Woodstock, South Africa’s craft-beer HQ, or head to the platteland for an altogether different experience.

Cape Brewing Co.
No expense was spared in setting up CBC’s state-of-the-art brewery at the Spice Route farm near Paarl. It has a supersonic bottling line and 35 enormous stainless-steel tanks; but the real magic comes from the farm’s very own mountain spring, which supplies the German brewmaster with the purest water imaginable. And it shows: The CBC Amber Weiss is the one beer I couldn’t live without. Period. Non-beer-drinkers can eat, shop and wine-taste to their hearts’ content at Spice Route’s other outlets.

Darling Brew
The quaint West Coast village of Darling may be best known for Evita se Perron and bright spring flowers, but Darling Brew’s snazzy new Tasteroom on the industrial side of town is its real pièce de résistance. The Tasteroom overlooks the shimmering stainless-steel brewery and serves up pub grub and a dozen beers on tap, including the iconic Slow Beer and Bone Crusher. For the kids, there’s a truly enormous jungle gym in the garden.

Devil’s Peak Brewing Company
This set-up’s scientific approach to the art of brewing has resulted in it consistently producing some of the best beers in the country. Its premises in Woodstock boast gleaming copper vats; incredible views of Devil’s Peak (the mountain); and the chic, spacious Taproom, which really comes alive on Friday evenings. The food menu focuses on innovative comfort grub and there are eight beers available on tap – four of which are always changing, seasonal, ‘experimental brews’.

Triggerfish Brewing
With 25 different beers and counting, Somerset West operation Triggerfish offers more variety than any other SA microbrewer. It’s got everything from easy-drinking ales to a Russian imperial stout; as well as a menu that’s big on fish and chips, mac and cheese, and other crowd-pleasers. Afterwards, pay a visit to Cheetah Outreach, next door.

Gauteng and surrounds

Enjoy a pint at OR Tambo’s domestic departures, in the Maluti Mountains … and everywhere in between.

Gilroy Brewery
Steve Gilroy, the white-haired Irishman who owns the eponymous brewery, is reason enough to visit this Magaliesberg beer garden, which is proudly ‘120 years behind the times’. His irreverent speeches keep the weekend masses entertained, and there’s great live music too. But do not let this detract from the beer: Gilroy takes his beer seriously, and he has the awards to prove it. Sign up for the Beer Experience (Saturdays, R120) to learn about (and drink) this life-giving nectar, while the rest of the family enjoy all that Ngwenya Glass Village has to offer.

Clarens Brewery
The views of the Maluti Mountains are epic, and the atmospheric bar is actually in the brewery. Clarens comes alive every February for the Clarens Craft Beer Festival, with more than 20 breweries represented. If crowds aren’t your thing, visit at any other time of year: the town’s idyllic setting, quirky vibe and great restaurants make it the ideal weekend getaway. Resident Brewmaster Stephan also makes his own ciders, gins, liqueurs and juices under the Red Stone Craft label.

Airport Craft Brewers
People always moan about OR Tambo, but – if you ask me – the fact that it’s got its very own craft brewery makes up for all manner of sins. Located in the domestic terminal, ACB has six beers (and a cider) on tap, as well as an extensive food menu featuring breakfast, tapas, hamburgers and baskets. My favourite brew is the Weizen, but everyone’s palate is different. Order a tasting tray and hope like hell that your flight is delayed…
Facebook: Airport Craft Brewers

Copperlake Brewing Co.
If you’re after a jol, look no further than Copperlake. This vibey brewpub makes up for its location in suburban Fourways with an irresistible blend of great beers, good food and live music, as well as a pub quiz (Wednesdays) and party bus (Fridays). Copperlake is an extremely popular venue for parties, but it’s also run by proper hopheads. The Brew Your Own package is an all-day tutorial that coaches you (and at least 10 friends, R3 000) through the entire brewing process. The best part? Four weeks later, you get to taste the fruits of your labour… All 30l of it!


From the mellow Midlands to the gentrified buzz of Durban’s Station Road, KZN is sure to quench your thirst.

The Nottingham Road Brewing Company
Situated on the gorgeous grounds of the charming Rawdons Hotel, on the impossibly picturesque Midlands Meander, Notties is the oldest craft brewery in KZN. Naturally, there is Notties beer on tap in the various pubs and restaurants at Rawdons, and at the all-new tasting deck at the brewhouse itself, which serves up experimental brews along with tapas. The Whistling Weasel Pale Ale is a perennial favourite but, for something a little different and distinct, why not sip on a pint of the Swinging Samango Mango Ale?

Old Main Brewery
This is as close as you will get to an old English brewhouse in South Africa. It is housed in a historical building in the quaint village of Hilton and several of the tables are actually located amongst the copper tanks. The food menu features traditional pub grub – the pot pies and schnitzels are both scrummy – and there are four beers on tap – all of which are very palatable. If I had to choose, I’d go with the 1806 Real Ale, but the Honey Badger Stout comes a close second.

Station Forty Three
Don’t be fooled by the grungy exterior or its location in the slightly insalubrious area near King’s Park – S43 is the very best of Durban. The official taproom of That Brewing Company is making waves throughout Surf City with its range of four artisanal beers, excellent food and sleek industrial decor. After dinner and a pint or two, why not mosey on upstairs to 031 Distillery, which produces its own range of absinthe, gin, vodka, and rum such as cachaca?
Facebook: S43 Home to That Brewing Co.

Photography: Juliette Bisset/, Courtesy Images


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