Guest Travels – Beer in South Africa: Leave it to the Namibians

February 28th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Bar Reviews, Beer Travels

One of my favorite parts about having this website is reporting on trips I take and the beers and places I experience while traveling. While this trip is not my own (how I wish it was), my friend Bob Payne, web producer at the Seattle Times, is in South Africa and promised to write up some of his beer adventures as he goes along. I’ll be posting his beer updates here, but if you’re interested in a full travelogue of Bob’s trip, you can follow all of his updates at Far From Home.

Beer in South Africa: Leave it to the Namibians

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 … .


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