29 July 2014 by Stuart Dickinson

Riding the crest of a craft-beer wave

Whether it’s a new gastropub, bottle stores selling local craft offerings and imported European ales, or even new breweries cropping up at a rapid rate around the country, the South African beer palate is evolving and savvy entrepreneurs are taking note.

Many establishments offer beer tasters. Image courtesy of Matthew Peoples

If variety is the spice of life, then things are certainly heating up in Johannesburg and South Africa as we’re treated to an abundance of different beer styles and flavours from a quickly developing craft-beer culture.

'We are in the midst of a craft-beer revolution,' says Randolf Jorberg, the man behind Beerhouse on Long in Cape Town, and Beerhouse Fourways, the latter opening its doors on 24 July in Johannesburg following the massive success of the Mother City branch.

Beerhouse offers a huge variety of 99 local and imported beers – 25 of those on tap – and a food menu designed to complement most of the brews on offer.

And as Jorberg explains, its mission is to educate punters on the different styles of beer and what makes them unique – much like many of the craft outlets in the country. This helps develop and sustain an interest in the craft culture, turning people from 'beerginners' into beer experts.

The bustling Beerhouse in Fourways on opening night. Image courtesy of Beerhouse Fourways

But Beerhouse Fourways, located at the Pineslopes Shopping Centre, is just one of many great spots in Johannesburg where you’ll be able to find a fresh, cold pint of crafty goodness.

Here are some other spots in and around the city that beer lovers are encouraged to check out.

Gilroy’s

Venture just outside the city limits towards Muldersdrift and you’ll find the long-established Gilroy’s Brewery, headed by the charismatic Steve Gilroy. His delicious ales are brewed on the premises and accompany a hearty food menu – all of which can be enjoyed outdoors in the South African sunshine.

SMACK! Rebulic

SMACK! Republic is located in the heart of Maboneng, Johannesburg’s lively urban renewal precinct. When you’re done sipping on the finely crafted ales made by these young brewers, you can wander around the cultural precinct and explore the rest of Arts on Main.

The Griffin

Set in the trendy area of Illovo in northern Johannesburg, the Griffin is a bustling gastropub that offers local craft beers on tap and a refreshing menu of meals with which to pair them.  

The Foundry

The Foundry is a popular watering hole and restaurant situated in the upmarket suburb of Parktown North. Nine local craft beers are offered on tap, paired with a unique, tantalising food menu.  

Stanley Beer Yard

This site was once a series of industrial buildings from the 1930s, which has since been converted into a selection of design studios and other arty outlets. The Stanley Beer Yard is located in the heart of this relaxed setting, offering beer lovers a variety of craft brews with live music played on Saturdays.

Cockpit Brewhouse

The Cockpit Brewhouse in Cullinan. Image courtesy of worldofbeer

If you’re up for a bit of a road trip, then the Cockpit Brewhouse is the perfect place for a weekend adventure. The brewery is located north of Pretoria in the famous mining town of Cullinan, which is set in a beautiful open expanse of rocky bushveld. The brewery offers a great selection of six ales created on site by chief brewer André de Beer and his team.

The Ale House

Another quaint brewery located away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, the Ale House in Broederstroom is an Irish-themed pub situated in a rustic, peaceful setting near the foothills of Hartbeespoort. Dirk van Tonder is a noted beer enthusiast, a passion that shows in the six beer styles he offers patrons. Be sure to order a pizza from its wood-fired oven. 

Craft-beer lovers fill up their mugs during the Solstice Festival, held every year at the Ale House. Image courtesy of the Ale House

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