Beer in South Africa: Leave it to the Namibians

26 Feb

Before I left for South Africa, I had heard some good things about the beer. As a favor to my friend Geoff Kaiser at the Seattle Beer News (a Seattle Times community news partner), I thought I’d do some short reviews of the beers I’m trying.

* Mitchell’s Forrester’s Draught (pictured): This is easily the best I’ve had in the first couple of days – and probably not surprisingly it’s the only draft I’ve had. I ordered it at the Ferryman’s Pub on the V&A Waterfront. This beer is brewed in Knysna, a town I’ll be visiting in a few days (now it seems a brewery visit is a must).

I’d describe the Forrester’s as a bright lager, with a slight hint of pilsner and even a light fruity flourish. Remember it’s summer here so a light lager totally hits the spot. At 27.50 rand per pint (about $4), it’s also the priciest of the beers I’ve sampled – but worth every drop.

* Windhoek Lager: This could be the most popular beer in Cape Town – even though it’s brewed in neighboring Namibia, not South Africa. From what I’ve read, Namibian brewers must abide by German beer-purity laws that restrict the ingredients to the most basic: water, hops and malted barley. What you end up with is another great-tasting beer for summer. I’d love to find out if it’s even available around here on draft.

* Castle Lager: This is essentially the Budweiser of South Africa. Bland and forgettable. Next!

* Tafel Lager: The kid at the Internet cafe recommended this one, saying it’s better than the Windhoek I’d just ordered. In fact, he was having one himself. I would not go so far as it’s better, but it too is Namibian and damned tasty. It had a bit fuller taste than the Windhoek, but overall wasn’t as memorable. Actually it looks like Tafel is a product of the Namibian Brewing Co., just like Windhoek. Both have a 4 percent alcohol volume.

I’m hoping to hit an actual brewpub tomorrow and otherwise seek out some real local microbrews, so stay tuned for another roundup in a couple of days.

Meantime, there’s more rugby on the telly and folks seem enrapt … .


3 Responses to “Beer in South Africa: Leave it to the Namibians”

  1. Kevin February 26, 2011 at 4:02 PM #

    Love me some Windhoek!!

  2. Castle February 28, 2011 at 12:04 PM #

    Castle is number one in my book. I did enjoy the hoek though as well. Have you tried Black Label?

    • Bob Payne March 2, 2011 at 7:05 AM #

      If it’s the same black label as back in the states, I’ll pass!

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