A group of members of the Cape Town Flickr Meetup Group Group met up yesterday afternoon at Boston Breweries, an independent micro-brewery situated in Paardeneiland, Cape Town.
Chris Barnard, the founder and chief brewer welcomed us, offering the choice of beer or tour first. Naturally we chose beer first and were served our choice of Boston Lager or Whale Tale Ale. I chose the ale, which proved delicious, served in a glass straight from the freezer.
After we had enjoyed our beer, while chatting and snapping photos in the entrance/tasting area, we moved on to the brewing hall next door where Chris explained the process of producing beer. Brewing hall is perhaps a grandiose term; it was far smaller than I expected, micro-brewery indeed.
Chris is clearly passionate about beer, and explained that the extra flavour in their beer is due to the filtering process. They use slightly larger filtering screens than the larger brewers ensuring that their beer retains as much flavour as possible. The huge commercial brewers filter their beers more, removing most of the flavour in the process.
While Andre and I spoke to him, he revealed the difficulties that small businesses face in competing against huge monopolies, such as South African Breweries that absolutely dominates the beer market in South Africa. To get a foothold in outlets the small guys must buy floor space for their products and reps from the big guys will come along, and take over that space by simply paying double. It’s not uncommon for Chris to arrive at an outlet on a Saturday morning to find a palette of his product sitting outside in the sun, rather than in the store for customers to buy. And strangely, no one will have any idea who fork-lifted the palette outside. Marketing and advertising is a problem due to the expense of advertising in traditional media and Andre suggested that Chris look into using social media to raise awareness of his brands.
We ended our visit in the tasting room where we chatted again over some more of the delicious beer, purchased our supplies to take home; in my case a six-pack of Hazzard Ten Ale, described thusly on the Boston web site.
If you’re a fizzy yellow beer drinker this is definitely not for you. With an alcohol content of 10% it is strongest beer brewed in South Africa, the most defining character however is it’s flavour. It is dark red in colour, has a thick creamy head, and a strong malty character. The sweetness has been balanced by adding large amounts of hops to the beer after fermentation, a process called dry hopping. It’s definitely the beer that is the most fun to make!
I enjoyed the first of these last night and it rates right up there with Paulaner Weissbier as one of tastiest beers I’ve ever had. I will certainly lay in a stock of Boston beers for the festive season when I’m on leave and will be wanting cool, tasty refreshments at hand. The fact that they offer a home delivery service is a definite plus too.