It is estimated that, as of 2015, there are more than 180 commercial craft breweries operating in South Africa. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of craft brewers as many constantly enter as well as leave the industry. This is great for beer aficionados who can look forward to probably a couple of hundred new brewers aspiring to take their craft to new heights with their creations. Craft beer authorities have sent in their top five favorites for the year which does not necessarily include craft beers that were newly launched during the year, but rather beers that stood out for them.
The official all-time top five craft beers 2015 from CraftNation includes some craft beers that are virtually unknown but definitely merit a try. Others are beers on the list you would expect to find ranking in the top five. Either way, these are the beers that are CraftNation-approved and are available at local craft markets or order them from League of Beers. If all else fails, you can visit the brewery and get more information on where these beers are distributed in your local area.
One of the best ways to explore and taste beer in South Africa is on a Cape Town bike beer tour.
CraftNation’s Top 5 Craft Beers For 2015
1. Californicator from Woodstock Breweries is CraftNation’s Beer of the Year for 2015. Seemingly out of nowhere, Woodstock Breweries came out with a great range of superior beers during 2015, including the Californicator, an American IPA which has become one of the most affordable, drinkable and session able craft beers on the South African market.
2. Tears Of The Hipster by Garista is a pale American ale with a delectable smooth taste and bold traces of grapefruit bitterness. It is quite costly but this a beer that will be relished every time one takes a sip. Garista’s Tears of the Hipster features one of the top iconic craft beer label designs and an award-winning advertising campaign.
3. Darling Brew’s White IPA is a dry hopped festive beer made with Hull Melon hops and infused with orange peel and coriander. A White IPA beer is brewed by combining the brewing techniques and hop character of an IPA with the spicy additions and wheat base of a Belgian White beer. This mixture of aromas delivers a strong wheat beer flavor with a lovely hoppy aftertaste. With the hint of coriander and orange peel, one is made to wonder whether Darling Brew White IPA is, in fact, an IPA.
4. Agar Brewery launched Tomahawk at craft fairs in November of 2015. This is one of South Africa’s best IPAs of the year on the 2015 craft beer scene. With an IBU rating of 100, it features as one of the most hopped IPAs available in South Africa, at the same time surprising one with its smoothness and easy drink-ability.
5. Frost Hammer by the 400 Brewing Company is a relative newcomer to the scene and is an easy-drinking beer ideal for newcomers to craft beer drinking, while also satisfying the tastes of more seasoned craft beer drinkers. Frost Hammer falls somewhere between an ale and a lager giving it the characteristics of a hoppy, malty lager.
South African craft beer pundits have sent in their top five favorites for the year which does not necessarily include craft beers that were newly launched during the year, but rather beers that stood out for them. Below are five from those picks:
Top Five South African Beers
1. The Devil’s Peak King’s Blockhouse IPA craft beer is a well-balanced IPA that is an almost perfect beer, packed with just the right amount of bitterness so as not to become overwhelming, and refreshing aromas.
2. No.3 Fransen St.Cream Ale is an easy drinking beer that is ideal for those who do not like the bitterness of beer but are also not into ciders, as it has a creamy sweetness.
3. Two Oakes Pilsner has a crisp finish and is low in IBU and ABV, making it ideal to enjoy at a braai, for drinking and for marinating the meat.
4. Newtown Nemesis Smack Republic is a light stout with vanilla and bourbon hints that can become addictive. This is a beer that one can indulge in liberally.
5. True Grit Amber Ale by Mad Giant is a definite winner with truly balanced flavors and full-bodied taste.
Whether you are a craft beer fundi or new to the craft beer scene, you will love the interesting things that brewers get up to with their beer creations. Explore and examine the wide range of South African craft beers on the market by putting some of these on your shopping list, and enjoy the ever-changing scene that is presented by newcomers to the craft.