8 Oct, 2015

Grow your beer brain: a beginners guide to craft beer

Let's face it. Craft beer is all the rage. And with summer just around the bend there's no doubt you'll be spending your days hanging with the homies, sipping on them ice-cold candies!

South Africa has over 135 micro-breweries and the thirst for original taste is on the rise! If you're more a whisky kinda guy or a newbie to the world of craft-beer, here's a simple guide to help you educate your sister's and bro's at the bar stool and grow your beer brain… rather than your boep.

What's inside?

When you take a swig of beer on a hot summer afternoon, besides ultimate satisfaction, what are you really tasting? Well, there are four main ingredients in beer: water, hops, malt and wheat and, as apposed to mass-produced lager, far more technique and experimentation with these four ingredients goes into craft-beer…

Remember your S's

Craft beer tasting is pretty much like wine and whisky tasting. So don't go gulping the damn thing down like you're at a bulls party. Take it slow brother. And remember your three S's: See. Sniff and Sip.

See: First, check out the colour. This will give you a rough idea as to how the beer will taste. Generally, darker beers will be slightly richer with a bitter taste and lighter beers will be more refreshing, clean and light to taste.

Sniff: Give the glass a good swirl (just like you would with wine to oxygenate it) and before sipping, give it a solid sniff. What do you smell? Hints of fruit, nuts, toffee, toast, liquorish…? If you smell nothing but "beer" – it's probably a kak one.

Sip: Give the beer a couple little sips and swirl it round toward the back of your mouth – that's where you pick up most of the flavours. After you've swallowed the liquid gold – what flavours are left in your mouth? If it's the bitterness from the hops, this would be described as a "strong finish" in beer-tasting lingo.

Use your senses of sight, smell and taste as a starting point to appreciating the art of craft beer brewing and you're on the right track to becoming a beer boss!

If you're into name-dropping – the top/biggest brands of craft beer in SA to know are: Jack Black, CBC, Darling, Boston and Mitchell's. Any one of these would be a good place to start with your craft beer journey this summer and we'll help you hit the ground running with a few of the best places to sip it in Mzansi…

Cape Town: The Beer House, Long Street:
Jozi: The Griffin, Illovo Junction:
Durban: S43, Station Drive:

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