South African craft beer ‘thrilling’ tourists

South Africa HolidaysThose on South Africa holidays are discovering that the country’s growing craft beer industry is affording them the perfect opportunity to get off the tourist trail and explore beautiful landscapes not often seen by travellers, writes Sandra MacGregor in The New York Times.

Ms MacGregor’s own tour of South Africa’s microbreweries took her past fields of wildflowers, rare blue cranes and endangered geometric tortoises.

However, as the journalist found out, you have to have a spirit of adventure to reach some of the smaller breweries, such as Hops Hollow Brew Pub (Africa’s highest altitude brewery), which is reached by driving up the steep Longtom Pass in the province of Mpumalanga.

After decades of being dominated by mass-produced beers, unique South African craft beers are now growing in popularity – following in the footsteps of Mitchell’s, the country’s first microbrewery.

Brewers such as Boston, Napier, Jack Black, Clarens, Triggerfish, Darling, Brewers & Union, Birkenhead, Saggy Stone, Robson’s and Drayman’s have all established themselves in recent years, and their number is set to almost double over the next year.

As Mr van Heerden, owner and brewmaster at Triggerfish, explained to Ms MacGregor: “Beer drinkers here are finally ready to try something different. It’s time to start stretching the envelope for beer in South Africa.”

Now a country famed for its wine is starting to get international recognition for its beers, and an increasing number of visitors are building their itineraries around visits to microbrewers and organised trails, such as the KwaZulu-Natal Beer Route.

“We always had great wine here but there was a dearth of what I like to call boutique beers,” Tadious Bohwasi, a sampler from Cape Town, explained to the journalist.