Did you know?
There are currently about 60 microbreweries in South Africa, with the bulk of them in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Craft beer is as much about tradition as it is about innovation. Lex Mitchell, who established South Africa's first microbrewery in 1983, has managed to combine the two perfectly in his latest foray into the world of craft beer – the Bridge Street Brewery in Port Elizabeth.
When Mitchell sold Mitchell's, the microbrewery he established in Knysna in 1983, he spent many years creating new brews and trying out recipes in his 50-litre home brewery. In 2011, some of these brews found a home at the Bridge Street Brewery, a partnership with restaurateur Donovan Noyle.
The Bridge Street Brewery is situated in an old fibreglass factory that has been revamped and refurbished into a modern pub and restaurant, with a small brewery on site and great views over the lower Baakens Valley, a green space that runs through Port Elizabeth.
Bridge Street’s signature beers are completely new creations made under the Mitchell family crest (the Boar’s Head). You can choose from the Boar’s Head Best Bitter, Celtic Cross Premium Pilsner, Bowman Natural Cider, and Black Dragon Double Chocolate Stout. Or try them all – tastings are free.
The names of these beers are rooted in Mitchell’s love of all things medieval – in fact, each year he hosts a medieval fair in Port Elizabeth. His passion for brewing has also been influenced by his visits to small breweries in Britain.
The Boar’s Head Best Bitter is a balanced, classic brew that pays homage to the British beer-making tradition; the Celtic Cross Premium Pilsner is the brewery’s best seller; the Bowman’s Natural Cider is dangerously easy to drink on a summer's afternoon or evening; and the Black Dragon Double Chocolate Stout is richly aromatic, with distinctive notes of dark chocolate and espresso.
You won’t find Bridge Street brews on tap anywhere else either. The supply is small and exclusive to the Bridge Street Brewery.
Along with its own creations, the Bridge Street Brewery sells a range of other South African craft beers. This is fitting, perhaps, as the number of specialist breweries popping up in cities and towns around the country is a fitting tribute to the man who started it all with his microbrewery Knysna.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Bridge Street Brewery
Tel: +27 (0)41 581 0361
How to get here
Check the listed website for directions.
What will it cost
The beer tastings are free.
What to eat
Choose from a selection of gourmet pub fare and tapas-style platters. If you are not looking for a full meal, the bread tray with a selection of dips goes will with the beers.
The Bridge Street Brewery hosts regular live music events. See its Facebook page for regular updates.
The signature beers: Boar's Head Best Bitter, Bowman's Natural Cider, Celtic Cross Premium Pilsner and Black Dragon Double Chocolate Stout.