I have just returned from my South African tour.
A whole new world has opened up to me – the world of craft beers! I have been commissioned to write a series of articles for a magazine, Links and Libations. Trying to track down the actual locations have been great fun, mostly because these small operations expand and move to bigger and better venues. South Africa has only in recent years caught on to the craft beer trend and it is now a booming business.
The idea of writing an article started when my friend Sterna and I stayed at Fanie Smit’s Thekwane Lodge and manager Wim and partner Ria took us for a game drive and pizza cum beer tasting at Arlington Brewery in the middle of the Dinokeng Big Five Game Reserve. The brews had such interesting names as Boris the Buffalo Stout. This unique setting deserved a write-up, so, Wim and Ria took me back to the brewery for an interview and photos with the newly appointed manager, Emile.
Wim had also arranged for dinner at the nearby Posh Restaurant (decorated in an old Hollywood movie style theme) situated on the farm, Halfway There. During our drives from place to place, we saw plenty of game, including seven rhinos. It transpired that a lion crossed the public tar road intersecting the park that very morning before we arrived.
Wim is a man of many talents, including being an artist and producer of many beautiful cards and paper that he makes from elephant, buffalo, rhino and zebra dung.
- Thekwane Lodge
- Arlington Brewery
- Arlington Lion crossing road
- Posh Accommodation
- Dinokeng Ellie paper
- Amarula Elephant art work (courtesy of Jawbone Brand Experiences)
Sterna, Neville and I also visited Zeppelin Brewery and Bunker Bar, with memorabilia from the first world war adorning the walls. The brewery is in the process of moving – will have to go back to that brewery in Pretoria at a later stage.
- Zeppelin Brewery and Bunker Bar
I took my tour group friends Lynne and Jana to Lesedi Cultural Village and sitting down for a soft drink at the ‘Ndebele Shebeen’, explained that a ‘shebeen’ used to be an illegal drinking place where the traditional African beer ‘umqombothi’ made from sorghum and maize was sold. I still needed to explore this original African craft beer!
- Lesedi Ndebele Shebeen
- Lesedi Zulu Dancers
Afterwards, we went in search of The Ale House that celebrates an Irish general who fought in the Boer war. After turning off at the sign, we were led down a dubious dirt road to a lonely farm set up with wooden tables and benches outside, only to be told that the brewery was in the process of moving to a new place on the main road. Being hungry by then, we turned in at a beautiful spa resort, also flashing the intriguing name AfricanSwiss Restaurant. The eccentric German owner came to chat to us at length while we devoured a sampler plate of delicious ‘eisbein’, meatballs, German sausages (‘bratwurst’), pork chops and grilled chicken. Unfortunately, he was not a craft beer fan. I will however, seek out The Ale House again when I return to South Africa.
- AfricanSwiss entrance
- AfricanSwiss restaurant