The newest (and final) issue of FHM sees Murray ‘Beer Whisperer’ Slater from the Beerhouse recommends his top ten beers available in SA. It was a tough choice with some quality local beers competing with imported long established brands. It was tough to reflect the massive variety and styles of beer in a choice of ten and could have easily been chosen #99. Oh well that what the Beerhouse is for. Come down and try all 10 of the Beer Whisperer’s recommendations at Beerhouse.
We all know that “craft” beer is on everybody’s lips right now, but once it hits them which is the best?
￼“Which is the best craft beer out there?” we asked last payday at our local.
So, after sobering up, we roped in the “Beer Whisperer” to narrow our search. Murray Slater from Beerhouse in Cape Town, is a beer judge in the making. He knows a thing or two about the craft beer market in SA.
“I think we’re pretty much right at the start of the expansion and interest in craft beer, though there have been some established craft brewers in SA for a while,” says Slater, as FHM gazes thirstily at the 99 beers on Beerhouse’s wall. “The strength of micro- brewing in SA is based on the strength of our home- brewing culture, guys who have realised that it’s commercially viable.”
Capital, licensing and access to raw ingredients remain issues in the industry but Slater reckons that at least SAB has acted like a “big brother” to the industry.
But enough of the serious stuff, what did our “tasting” of Slater’s top 11 craft beers from Beerhouse reveal…
- Apollo Stout
What’s the vibe? A light easy going stout with a lovely roasted malt flavour that is sessionable.
Whisper it: Great intro to this style of beer. Easy to drink and accessible to those who are scared of the dark side!
- Rogue Dead Guy Ale
What’s the vibe? A strong lager in the style of a German Maibock yielding a deep honey in colour with a malty aroma, rich hearty flavour.
Whisper it: Just like us, this beer pairs well with pork!
- Crazy Diamond Belgian IPA
What’s the vibe? A strong beer at 13.2% to be shared and sipped on like a fine Cognac. Whisper it: A very limited edition offering from two talented experimental brewers. Colabs are very popular in other countries and is a sign of a strong and secure microbrewing industry.
- Brewdog Libertine Black Pale Ale
What’s the vibe? The bastard son of an IPA and a dark ale!
Whisper it: BrewDog have done a lot to make beer sexy again in the UK and indeed the world. They’re anti-establishment, happy to break rules through extreme creativity and thinking outside the box.
- Westmalle Trappist Dubbel
What’s the vibe? The Trappist Dubbel is a deep, reddish, moderately strong, malty complexed Belgian ale.
Whisper it: Westmalle is one of eight Trappist breweries, breweries that operate from monasteries, most of them in Belgium!
- Gallows Hill IPA
What’s the vibe? India Pale Ale is a style that originated during The British Empire when beer was transported by ship from the UK to India, via SA. After crossing the equator twice beer would spoil and not last the journey, so they added more hops and upped the alcohol by volume (ABV) – this style is now very popular in the USA and with brave local micro-brewers.
Whisper it: Gallows Hill is a very new brewery that is not scared to use a varied range of hops.
- Lindemans Pecheresse
What’s the vibe? This is a peach lambic, which is a Belgian technique using wild yeast to ferment the beer that gives it a pleasant sour finish. A very difficult and time consuming process that Belgians are the masters of. Whisper it: Most wheat-based ales, like the Pecheresse, emanate from Belgium or Germany.
- Delirium Tremens Tripel
What’s the vibe? This strong Belgian Pale Ale is triple fermented and bottle conditioned.
Whisper it: Belgians are the best at what they do thanks to a long, rich heritage of brewing and very distinct styles. The Tremens Triple is an excellent balance of malt, high alcohol and limited use of hops. A good benchmark for SA brewers.
- The King’s Blockhouse IPA
What’s the vibe? This beer is based on a West Coast America style IPA. Typical of the region its fruity aroma and taste is followed by extreme grapefruit bitterness to cleanse the palate.
- Whisper it: Perhaps SA’s best made and rated beer. A beer before its time in here but its catching on as people’s taste buds change.
- Lakeside Beerworks American Pale Ale
What’s the vibe? American pale ales are usually a hoppy and bitter version of a traditional malt forward English pale ale.
Whisper it: This is a tame version and eases South Africans’ taste buds into this rather bitter domain. Morne and Pierre-Charl’s story is of home brewers becoming successful microbrewers.
- CBC Krystal Weiss
What’s the vibe? Pale, spicy and fruity wheat-based. It’s on the sweet side as none to very limited hops are used – a low bitter flavour.
Whisper it: Unlike most Weiss beers this one has the yeast filtered out and is not cloudy and thus “crystal clear”. A great entry level beer popular with South Africans.
Photography: James Garaghty. Words: Carlo Jonkerman (and Murray Slater!)