Which Beer is the Best in South Africa?

Beer of the Year — Afro Caribbean Jungle Paradise — was recently crowned in the African Beer Cup. This week, we asked our Twitter followers to tell us what their favorite beer is, and Castle won with more than 40% of the votes. Although it is not clear if this percentage prefers Castle Lite or Castle Lager, personally, I like a Black Label when I have a beer every once in a while. My colleague Gabi is a little more beer savvy and prefers CBC Amber Weiss. Beer in South Africa has a long history, with a corporate history that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.

As we climb up our list of the strongest craft beers in South Africa, we return to Triggerfish territory. The Black Marlin from the brewery's Big & Wild beer range has 9.9% alcohol content and pours black like wolf's mouth, showing a dense, tanned head. The aroma and flavor are a tangle of 7 different malts, 3 types of hops and a little bit of Triggerfish's own molasses. Recommended to be enjoyed at an almost warm temperature of 11C, Black Marlin will hook you and push you down through layers of coffee, dark chocolate, anise, fruit and caramel before leaving you in the dark and cloudy depth of a persistent, bitter finish. Sugarman from Woodstock Brewery is one of the brewery's specialty beers that has a cult following among its fans.

Sugarman, a Belgian beer aged in barrels in the Quad style, is dark and velvety, with a richness of oak and spicy flavors of dark rum. At 10%, it is designed to be enjoyed at a slower pace but with an exceptionally high ingestibility coefficient, it goes down too fast. From the lightest craft beer manufacturer in South Africa comes Boston Breweries Canon Ale with 10% alcohol content. It is designed to be paired with crispy duck or slow-roasted pork ribs as the high alcohol content helps reduce fat. At the same time, it is easy to drink with licorice caramel and molasses in the aroma and caramelized notes in the taste but a large amount of hops balances the alcohol and ensures that the sweetness does not become dominant. During the 17th century, Dutch settlers arrived in South Africa and introduced the classic type of lager brewed with barley and hops.

For a unique South African combination, an excellent pairing is ostrich steak with Jack Black Brewers Lager beer. With eleven official languages in South Africa, there are many different ways to order a beer like a local depending on where you are in the country. The first major commercial brewery was established in the 1890s to provide beer to the gold rush city of Johannesburg. Coming from the same microbrewery, The Space Llama double IPA recently won the Best Beer in Africa award. Draymans (South Africa) Altstadt Weissbier is a Bavarian-style wheat beer that has the high carbonation, crisp acidity and banana notes of a traditional weissbier.

The largest of them is Hansa Pilsner which is a medium-bodied beer with a mild carbonation and the traditional malty flavor of a pilsner. South Africa accounts for 34% of Africa's formal beer market and is expected to grow 8-10% annually over the next five years. Over the past twenty years, South Africa has seen a huge influx of smaller breweries producing different styles of beer. Since the legalization of the supply of European liquor to Bantu people in 1962, sale of bantu beer by municipalities began to increase at a faster rate than before. As a result, alcohol content of bantu beer increases after leaving brewery and it is not unusual to find that it contains more alcohol than allowed by law i.e. 3% by weight or almost 4% by volume.

Brewing and consumption of bantu beer played an important role in Bantu tribal life in southern Africa. Beer tourism is a rapidly growing tourism sector closely related in concept to culinary tourism and very similar to concept of wine route. Originally started by Beer Route - collaboration of craft breweries in South Africa - other players have embarked to help guide tourists to taverns across country.