A few media outlets have jokingly referred to Cape Town as “The Cape of Good Hops,” in reference to the city’s newfound notoriety in the craft beer scene. As with most other metropolitan cities, the craft beer revolution began just a few short years ago in Cape Town. Ten years ago there was one brewery in Cape Town and now there are over 20, with several more on the way.
Microbreweries have existed in South Africa since the 1980s, but much like the rest of the world, this niche industry didn’t have the demand that it does today. By 2008, roughly twenty breweries had set up shop in South Africa. Between 2015 and 2016, the industry saw an astonishing 50% growth — from 80 breweries to 160, the bulk of which are located on the Western Cape. [Source]
The Global Demand for South African Hops
While the craft beer scene is still in its infancy, South African hops — known for their unique flavor profiles — are sought after by craft brewers globally. Anheuser Busch-InBev purchased the largest farms and growers last May in their continued effort to stifle craft competition globally, cancelling all shipments to craft breweries in the US and the UK.
The sudden global interest in South African hops and AB-InBev’s expensive move to monopolize the country’s hops supply line has only increased curiosity and interest in South Africa’s craft beer scene. Beer tourism has risen in popularity in the last five years and Cape Town is now a part of that industry boasting several notable breweries and brewpubs that are worth the trip.
Top 5 Places to Drink Craft Beer in Cape Town
1. Jack Black’s Brewing Co.
Jack Black’s Brewing Co. is a 25-barrel brewhouse located in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, in the heart of Diep River. In South Africa’s burgeoning beer scene, this is one of the largest craft breweries in the country. Jack Black’s brewing team produces a range of beers, including an unfiltered Pilsner and an American-style IPA. The taproom is open from Wednesday through Saturday with hours ranging from 10am to 10pm. Tours and tastings are also available throughout the week. The taproom also serves up it’s famous Butcher Block Burger and hosts Food Truck Fridays. Visitors can catch open mic nights, quiz nights, and live music throughout the week.
2. Devil’s Peak Brewing Company
Close to Cape Town’s city center, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company is a popular choice among visitors and locals alike. The brewery is best known for their inaugural hop-forward IPA. Devil’s Peak has a reputation of introducing new beer styles to local drinkers, even starting a barrel-aging program in 2016. In addition to the exciting beers, visitors can enjoy cheeseburgers, cider-glazed pork belly, and a variety of bar snacks designed to elevate the drinking experience. The tap room is open seven days a week with varying operating hours.
3. Woodstock Brewery
Woodstock Brewery, located in an industrial suburb of Cape Town, is best known for its seasonal ales. Their quarterly releases include an award-winning hazelnut brown ale, Mr. Brownstone. Limited releases are their mainstay, but Woodstock is also known to collaborate with nearby breweries such as Drifter Brewing Co. (more information below). The taproom, open Tuesday through Saturday, features weekly tours and a delicious menu from The Woodstock Grill.
4. Drifter Brewing Co.
Drifter Brewing Co. frequently collaborates with nearby Woodstock Brewery, with a ‘guest tap’ at Woodstock’s location. Visitors making the trip on a Friday would do well to visit both. Drifter Brewing’s head brewer started in the Portland, Oregon brewing scene so it’s no surprise the that the brewery features a West Coast-style IPA. Drifter also features several experimental brews including a coconut-infused ale and a brew that highlights the fruit of South Africa’s baobab tree. Drifter’s tasting room is only open on Fridays and tours are by advanced reservation only.
5. Banana Jam Cafe
Banana Jam isn’t a brewery, but it is the first and most celebrated craft beer bar in Cape Town with over 30 craft beers on tap and 80 in the bottle — the widest selection in South Africa. Banana Jam is a must-see if you’re a beer enthusiast. The cafe offers the best selection, but also serves up fantastic Caribbean fare from jerk Chicken to Goat Curry. If beer isn’t your jam, the cafe also boasts one of the best rum collections outside of the Caribbean. A great place to stop and recharge after a half-day tour of the Mother City.
For more tips, ideas, and advice for seeing all there is to see in South Africa, visit us at vacationtosouthafrica.com.