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Beat the winter blues with these 10 reasons to love winter

Here at the League we love winter, because just like us, she delivers. Sure, summer brings the sunshine, but winter, now she means business. So, as the sunsets get earlier and the nights get longer, it’s time to pack away those pilsners and pale ales and start stocking up on stouts, porters, and black IPA’s. Let’s embrace the big and brooding side of beer with ales that are darker than Maleficent’s temper and blacker than Darth Vader’s jockstrap. Here are our top ten reasons to love winter and give in to the power of the dark side.

1.We don’t need to be afraid of the dark

Beers are fuller, darker, bigger, and they have names like Black Cab, Coco Psycho, Irish Whiskey Stout, Black Dog and Neu Blk.

2. We get to host awesome beer tastings

We are all about beer education. More people drinking better beer. So, here’s your chance to get back to school with the full range of roasty, toasty flavours. Bring on the dark-choc, coffee, liquorice and oak. Yes please.

3. Great craft beer delivered to your door

Now that it’s cold and wet outside, even more reason to give us a call or drop us a mail, and sign up for the best service you never knew you needed.

4. Winter is sexy

Slops and a vest will always lose to worn-in boots, your favourite Levi’s and your Granddad’s military jacket. Hey, with all those dark layers, you get to instantly lose a few kilos. Win-win.

5. Everything is frosty

Room temperature beers are no problem. This sounds a little crazy, but when room temp is a cool 13 degrees, it’s spot on for a dark ale with a massive flavour profile.

6. The nights are longer

Two extra hours of nocturnal beery fun to be had. Hey, you may even get to see the sunrise, with your cup of coffee, or your favourite coffee stout.

7. More fire

A lot more fire, and the best pairing for that is a dark beer, a leather wingback and your hound wrapped around your feet. If you’re really good, you’ve trained him to fetch your beers.

8. Comfort food

Cooking in cast-iron is good for the soul. Steaks, roasts, potjies, and let’s just admit it, carbs are back on the menu. Kiss the quinoa, hummus and celery sticks goodbye.

9. Pairing beer and movie nights

Curl up on the couch with your significant other (if that is an imperial chocolate stout, we won’t judge). Think Reservoir Dogs with black IPA, A Clockwork Orange with a seriously nutty brown ale, Skyfall with something dark and barrel-aged, Into the Wild with your favourite stout, and let’s go with Fight Club for the working man’s beer, London Porter.

10. We get to gift beer

The infamous mis-quote goes: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” It’s as true today as it was in the 1800s. With Father’s Day around the corner, happiness is just a mouse-click away (www.leagueofbeers.com).

So, to sneak this in one more time, winter is definitely coming, and this time you’ll be ready.

Make sure you’re subscribed to the beer of the month club to get exceptional craft delivered to your door.

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Our chat with La Trappe Trappist Brewery

In preparation for the upcoming Capital Craft Festival we chatted to 3 of the featured international brewers whose beers will be on show. This is our chat with the monks from the La Trappe Trappist Brewery.

Your website says one key ingredient to your beers is tranquility – so does this mean beer has a role in helping world peace?

World peace starts with each individual. If a person is in balance and harmony with himself peace is apparent. Silence and tranquility are imperative to reach this state of mind. In the rush hour of our modern life, silence and tranquility may be more valuable than physical possession. Time for yourself, a moment of reflection, is something that we have to consciously search for and create these days. Silence is a rare and curative ingredient that we have to miss too often. There is a monk inside every one of us. Silence is the white between the written lines. Silence starts with attention. La Trappe is beer brewed with integrity but the taste says more than that. If you taste carefully, you will recognize the vital ingredient which is indissolubly related to the monks. Silence.

The general impression would be that being a monk is a calling rather than a career – can the same be said about your brewers?

There are no impediments to become a monk but it`s a calling, a charism, a gift. Brewing is a very specific career choice and you could indeed say it is a calling. Our brewers have been with us for years.

What makes a Trappist beer so unique?

A “Trappist” Ale has to satisfy a number of strict criteria before it may bear this name:

1. The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.

2. The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life

3. The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture.  The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds.  Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need. Pure and honest. And you can taste it.

Where should someone start their Trappist beer journey?

The only place to really start the journey would be at De Koningshoeven brewery and abbey in the Netherlands. As we understand that won`t be possible for everyone we have brought La Trappe to South Africa. Capital Craft Beer festival will be a great introduction to taste our unique Trappist Ales. There will be 4 styles on draught ranging from our Witte Trappist with 5.5%, La Trappe Blond 6.5%, La Trappe Dubbel 7% to our flagship La Trappe Quadrupel at 10% ABV. We`ll be looking forward to meeting you there!

Beer-brewing monks is not something you come across every day, what does an average day look like for a brewery that’s anything but? (What does life look like on a beer-brewing monastery.)

Most of the brewing is these days done by the brewers who work under the supervision of the monks. As per our traditions of monasticism, the monks pray 8 hours a day, work 8 hours a day and sleep 8 hours a day. Our way of life doesn’t allow a full-time dedication to the brewery.

Monks are thought of as being really, really wise. Do you think some of that wisdom has made its way into the beers? Because after a beer or two we come up with some really great ideas.

We believe that our Trappist ales made in an environment of silence and tranquility, brewed with integrity, carries through and will give you a conscious moment for consideration of yourself and others.

What is something the process of brewing has taught you about life?

Attention for what you do! Silence starts with attention. Whatever you give attention, will grow. We pay attention to doing the right thing. Our essence helps us to continuously contemplate the important things in life.

In movies or stories, people always go to the monks for wisdom, so what life advice does La Trappe have for us?

Respect people and your environment. According to the wishes of the Abbey, we deal with everything that God has given us in a careful way. Therefore we have been committed to this for centuries and we`re still committed to do so.

Tell us a bit about La Trappe Blond.

La Trappe Blond is a scintillating golden ale which boasts a rich, fruity and fresh aroma with a light malty and sweet taste. It has a soft bitterness with a friendly aftertaste. A well-balanced blend of complexity and simplicity. We are happy that our dedication and craftsmanship has been recognized at the World Beer Cup awards with a golden medal this year.

Are all the monks hopheads? [Is a love of beer a prerequisite to joining the monastery?]

You could say that the love for beer is something that we share. Our lifestyle and monastic values keeps the balance. The Monks are only allowed to drink one beer every Sunday.

Did you ever imagine that your Trappist beers would be profiled at a Craft Beer Festival in the Capital of South Africa? And what will it take to get you to come and join the next Capital Craft Beer Fest?

It`s a big privilege that La Trappe Trappist will be presented at the Capital Craft Beer Festival. We`re very happy to have the opportunity for south African people to taste our Trappist Ales. As Abbot of the monastery I only travel abroad for the brewery once a year. Maybe South Africa is next…

What’s your beer philosophy summed up in a sentence?

Beer brewed with integrity and patience reflects in the taste.

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We catch up with BrewDog

In preparation for the upcoming Capital Craft Festival we chatted to 3 of the featured international brewers whose beers will be on show. This is our chat with the folk from BrewDog.

You guys said you were bored with the beers on the market before you decided to make your own. What was the tipping point that just made you go, “hell, let’s just do it ourselves?”

Like many craft breweries around the world, the formative years of BrewDog were spent putting the hours in on the homebrew kit. It’s a common theme as without beers you like, what else can you do but make your own? The tipping point to turn a hobby born of necessity into a business came when our co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie chanced a meeting with legendary beer writer Michael Jackson, and took some homebrew with them. His feedback was simple – “If this is what you can do, I suggest you open a brewery immediately.” So they did!

You’ve definitely made some memorable beers of the years with some great names [Bitch Please, Cocoa Psycho], are there some beers (possibly with weird names) that didn’t quite make it to the final round?

No, not really – if we don’t like something then it doesn’t go out; we have a pilot kit on which to experiment and hone recipes before they ever see the light of day. As the most important thing about our company is the quality of our beer, there are very few that don’t make the final cut. The team in our brewhouse know exactly what works and what doesn’t!

BrewDog has grown into more than just beers, bars are popping up all over the world. What makes a BrewDog bar special? And any plans on opening in SA?

There are two things that make our bars special – the staff that work there and the people who come in to enjoy the beers. The atmosphere in our bars is something we are hugely proud of – our Cicerone-trained barstaff are there to offer advice, guidance and beer and food pairings in a relaxed environment rather than just slinging out beers. And as for South Africa, we have a large and passionate group of fans there amidst a fantastic craft beer scene, so we would love to open a bar if we found the right location – let us know if you see any!

BrewDog is officially the fastest growing drinks company in the UK, what is it about the BrewDog philosophy that resonates with people so much?

That’s a good question – we’ve been the fastest-growing Food & Drinks Company in the UK for the last four years, and it’s all down to the amazing work of the crew in the brewery, bars and across the business. The aim of everyone who punches in each morning at BrewDog is to make other people as passionate about great craft beer as we are – that is our philosophy – and it is represented by the standards we apply to beer quality and how dedicated our team are. It’s great that people can appreciate this, how steadfast and uncompromising we are in everything we do!

You’ve put beer inside a squirrel before, projected some tasteful nudity onto parliament and driven a tank down a main road, and broken some world records while crowd-funding. But what’s been a stand-out highlight for BrewDog?

Our latest round of crowdfunding, no question. Equity for Punks IV closed last month becoming the most successful equity crowdfunding offer in history, raising over £20m. Our legion of Equity Punks now stands at over 42,000 and it is an honour that so many people care about craft beer that they are willing to support us in this way and own a part of our company, so we can continue to change the world of craft beer together. And a responsibility we do not take lightly!

The success of BrewDog has been insane. Did you or did you not get three wishes from a wizard / witch / wise old sage / leprechaun and use one of them to create BrewDog?

Michael Jackson certainly counts as one of those. I don’t think he had magical powers, though…

You’ve got a few beers in your stable that make a statement so, if we were having the in-laws round for dinner, what would be an impressive beer to put out?

It depends what kind of statement you want to make, I guess (and what kind of things they normally drink). With an amazing wine industry in South Africa, let’s say the wonders of the grape float their boat. So maybe bring out our saison Electric India, brewed with peppercorns and heather honey, with citrus from the new world hops and everything lifted by the carbonation – it would be interesting to see what they thought, if they were white wine drinkers!

Ok, Tinder date goes well. We go back home, time for a drink. What beer in the fridge says, “I lead a rich and interesting life”?

I would hope my sparkling conversation had convinced you of that before we got to that stage! But a classic, refined Belgian lambic would hopefully continue that vibe – unless you didn’t like sour beers, in which case it would end the date pretty quickly.

You’ve said before you want people to drink what you would drink yourself. What’s your go-to Brew?

Classic, refined Belgian lambic (I have a fridge full of them…). Oh and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – the beer that convinced me there was an alternative to mass produced lager and still tastes amazing almost 35 years after it was first brewed. It’s a world-class beer, a piece of history and an astonishing achievement, all in one.

If BrewDog is only remembered for one thing 100 years from now – what would you like it to be?

I would hope we are still brewing, but if not, it would be cool to be known as one of the breweries that tried hard and tipped the balance of public opinion about beer, that it is something to be enjoyed and savoured, not chugged.

Did you ever imagine that your iconoclastic beers would be profiled at a Craft Beer Festival in the Capital of South Africa? And what will it take to get you to come and join the next Capital Craft Beer Fest?

I’m sure James and Martin didn’t imagine their beers would end up in South Africa when they started out. But that’s the great thing about craft beer – it is a movement spreading all over the world and finding a home wherever people want to discover something with more flavor than what they are told from watching adverts!

You guys don’t take the easy route. What’s been your most ambitious project to date?

That Tinder date we went on. By a mile.

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We discuss lambic beers with the Lindemans family

In preparation for the upcoming Capital Craft Festival we chatted to 3 of the featured international brewers whose beers will be on show. This is our chat with the folk from Lindemans.

Tell us a bit about the history of Lindemans

Our family has owned a farm since the dawn of time. It was to occupy (and refresh) the peasants in the winter that we began our brewing activity. With time and success, our agricultural activities decreased as our brewery developed. Since 1822, six generations of pioneers have succeeded each other at ‘Hof ter Kwade Wegen’, first as farmer-brewers, then – starting in the second half of the 1950s – as just brewers. Under the influence of these six generations of Lindemans, our brewery has become one of the leading producers of lambic in the region and in the world

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What makes the way the Lindemans brew different?

Because we brew beer with an exceptional – and the oldest – method: spontaneous fermentation, also known as natural or wild fermentation. Our valley, at the heart of Pajottenland, a very fertile rural area on the outskirts of Brussels, has the immense advantage of benefiting from exceptional microflora, the air is full of hundreds of characteristic wild yeasts, of which the best known are ‘Brettanomyces Bruxellensis’ and ‘Brettanomyces Lambicus’. These yeasts are unique. They constitute our wealth, what makes us special.

Vlezenbeek must be an incredible place to make beers this good. What do you think it is that makes it so unique?

Because of the wild yeasts in the air like I said in the question above, but besides of that it’s a beautiful village with wonderful people.

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Lambic beers are complex, they’re not everybody’s first choice when it comes to beer. Any pointers on learning to love a Lambic?

Lambic is so complex because it contains 80 different kind of yeasts. It’s a beer for ‘connoisseurs‘. We added fruit to our lambics in order to get it more accessible. And more recently we also added botanicals in our new botanical line.

You’ve launched a gin made with beer distallate, tell us a bit about that.

We made this distilled gins together with craft distillery De Moor, also a high-quality Belgian brand with whom we share the same values. The products of this collaboration are a clear gin and a red gin. Both are made from Old Kriek-based distillate and unite artisan and family traditions They are genuine local products: Lindemans Kriek beer originates from the Pajottenland and is distilled in Aalst. Both gins are double distilled in a copper kettle and hand bottled. The red one is bright red due to the pure sour cherry juice added to the premium distilled gin.

Food and beer go together like the sea and sand. Do you have any great Belgian dishes that pair well with your beers?

A famous Belgian dish is mussels with fries, we strongly recommend you to drink a Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René with it, it’s heaven! For more dishes and cooking with Lindemans I would like to address you to our newest book ‘Lampas’ it’s about tapas with lambics and created by the best chefs of Belgium.

What would you like people to remmeber the Lindeman family for?

Self-willed, doing our own thing without looking at other breweries. We would like that people remember us as innovating, we might be the oldest beer in the world but that doesn’t mean we are old fashioned, in contrary we are very innovative. Last year we worked together with Mikkeller to make 2 new beers (SpontanBasil and BlossomGueuze). The firsts in a hole row of new botanical beers.

As a family brewer, are there any family members who aren’t that into beer? And if so, can we take their place?

There’s not a chance! I run the brewery together with my cousin Geert and we are both extremely passionate about beer.

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Lindemans has been around for a year or two to say the least, what do the next 200 years look like for the brewery?

Lindemans has been around for 194 years! My ancestors started the brewery in 1822. Already 6 generations worked in the brewery. For the next 200 years we would like to stay innovative and stay introducing people to the world of sour beers and the mysterious world of lambic and his spontanous fermentations. Keeping offering a unique tasting experience to people they will never forget.

Since we can’t make a tour (the drive would be a nightmare!) can you give us a digital tasting session?

It’s such a complex beer with an unique taste that I highly recommend you to just take that drive through Africa and Europa and experience it yourself! But to give you a glimpse, the old Kriek Cuvée René tastes like beer with a pure cherry flavour that is fresh and pleasantly tart, with a masterful sour-sweet balance. The sweet-sour attack of the stone tannins turns into a sour-sweet finish that lingers for some time. The perfect balance between its sourness and the sweetness of the cherries makes this a refreshing aperitif. In our botanical line we have the SpontanBasil and this one combines the sourness of lambic with the delicious and delicate aromas and flavours of fresh basil. Complex tart and well-balanced taste with a nice crisp, dry and tart finish.

Did you ever imagine that your very unique, wild yeast beers would be profiled at a Craft Beer Festival in the Capital of South Africa? And what will it take to get you to come and join the next Capital Craft Beer Fest?

When you give me the date I would like to come!

Having been brewing for several generations, what do you think your makes your most ancestors proud?

They we have grown so much on such a short time but never forgot our base product, we still produce it as it was more than 500 years ago. And that we made their beer famous for all over the world.

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Why craft is the best gift for the man who has it all

Few things are as appreciated as opportunities to spend time with our friends, the people who get us and enjoy us for who we are. If you want to gift something genuinely thoughtful, that also won’t leave a footprint of Father’s Day Gift clutter, then here’s why a League of Beers Mixed Case is the perfect gift for a good time.

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A case full of craft beer is not just any gift. It brings with it the inspiration to reconnect with friends, it’s the type of gift you will want to share and bond over, be it with old faithfuls or perhaps even people you would like to know better. With this gift you’re giving an experience that will build memories and possibly even an undiscovered hobby.

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So, for the Father, husband, brother or just a good bud you know would enjoy the exploration of new territories, a creative, tasty journey with reds and blondes and the odd foamy kiss, a League of Beers Mixed Case of craft beer is always a good idea. Why not throw in a craft beer T-shirt for a complete gift?

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To find out more about the awesome t-shirts, check out the men’s section in Woolies, and to find out about the June Mixed Case have a look here.

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Learn the ABC’s of craft

Education is important and the building blocks of any topic are really its ABC’s. Beer Country have kindly taken us through the best alphabet of all – the beer alphabet.Hreo_ABCS_article

A: And Union – These guys pioneered the ‘craft is cool’ movement in South Africa. They make exceptional beers and even though they are brewed in Bavaria, they are a homegrown craft hero.

B: Barley – Malted barley is one of four magical beer ingredients. It gives colour, flavour and body. It also provides essential sugars which yeast converts into alcohol. Go barley!

C: Cape Brewing Company – One of ‘ze big guns’ in South Africa. CBC make incredible German style beers in the heart of the Paarl winelands. Definitely worth a visit, but take a taxi.

D: Devil’s Peak – South Africa was never the same after Devil’s Peak burst onto the scene, swinging a bag of hops like a medieval weapon. Two words – king’s blockhouse.

E: Ester – Ester handles League of Beers’ social media… just kidding. Esters are flavour compounds created by yeast. They can be fruity, spicy or floral.

F: Free delivery – Did someone say free?! Yes it’s true! Our monthly mix case arrives at your door free of charge. Does it get any better than that?

G: Growler – Contrary to popular belief, a growler is not the result of an imperial IPA binge. They are actually large jugs that you can get filled with takeaway beer at your favourite brew pub.

H: Hops – How do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Hops give beer bitterness, aroma and flavour that ranges from earthy, spicy, floral to fruity, herbal and resinous. We. Love. Hops.

I: International brews – At League of Beers we strive to find the best beers from around the world. After we’ve drunk all the beers we then get more and put them in cases for you :)

J: Jack Black – Good ol’ Jack Black has been around since craft beers have been at farmer’s markets. They’ve come a long way since then and they’ve just built their own spiffy brewery.

K: Keg – Kegs are the best way to store beer, and beer on tap will often taste fresher. Believe it or not, cans actually store beer better than bottles because they are like mini kegs.

L: Light struck – When beer is exposed to too much sunlight it causes a chemical reaction that causes the hops to revolt. The technical term for this is ‘skunked’.

M: Mixed Case – Not only is a mix case a passport into a world of beer, fun, friends and awesomeness, it’s also been rated by the World Institute of Present Giving as ‘The best present ever’ since 2012.

N: Ninkasi – Ancient Sumerians drank a lot of beer. So much in fact that they had a beer goddess called Ninkasi. They also had a song which they sang to her, which was also a recipe for the beer. How crafty is that?

O: Only going to have one beer – An urban myth that every craft beer drinker attempts to prove, and fails. How can you blame them though? Craft beer is just so damn delicious.

P: Phenolic – This nasty aroma smells, like plastic or band aids, that is caused by wild yeast or bacteria getting into a brew.

Q: Quick beer – see “O”.

R: Resin – Hop flowers have a yellow resin substance inside them. This is what gives beer its delicious bitter flavour.

S: Sediment – If a beer is bottle conditioned, meaning there is actual live yeast in the bottle, you’ll find sediment in the bottom of the bottle. You can either discard it or swirl it into the pour.

T: Tasting League – An awesome group of League of Beers Legends who take pictures of the mix case beers. They also talk obsessively about beer on Twitter and Instagram on @TastingLeague.

U: U is for you – And you should be drinking a beer while you read this. Go on, we’ll wait while you fetch one.

V: Very popular – That’s what you’re going to be if you get your mates to subscribe to the awesomeness that is League of Beers.

W: Water – Beer is about 90% water so it really pays to use the best quality water. Some breweries like Newlands and Guinness are actually built around their water sources.

X: Xerophobia – The fear of dryness. The solution? You guessed it, a delicious monthly mix case that was lovingly curated by The League of Beers.

Y: Yeast – For the longest time yeast was a mystical thing that no one understood. It was only in 1857 that Louis Pasteur figured out the fermentation process. Louis you beauty!

Z: Zymurgy – No this is not a new fangled cult. It’s actually just a fancy word for the study or practice of fermentation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this taste of craft beer smarts. If you’re looking to dive deeper into the tank then sign up to the League of Beers Monthly Mixed Case today, and you’ll get instant access to our College of Craft course. It’s everything you need to take your beer smarts from flat to fizzy.

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Coconuts, peanut butter beer and winter underground festivals: Meet the man behind Drifter

Our brewer of the month for May is none other than Drifter Brewing Company, with Nick Bush at the hoppy helm. We caught up with him on an island under a palm tree to chat about what inspires his beer brewing technique and his beer drinking ethos. Well, not quite, but drinking these beers that’s where you’ll feel you are.

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Ships’ wheels, maps, compasses, coconuts…Would you call yourself a Craft Beer Pirate?

Maybe more like a C​raft Beer Captain!​

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You clearly love the ocean, any plans to feature it in a beer?

​​I’ve tasted a couple of beers that were made with ​ocean​ water, and they were interesting but ​salty! So ​I’ve never thought about ​brewing a beer with ocean water​ – or at least not on a commercial scale​. I do however have bottles of a small batch of Belgian triple ageing inside a shipwreck on the Atlantic seabed about 40m deep. So I guess you could say I’m using the ocean ​to develop a​ beer​!​

Your coconut ale has pretty much a cult following. Did you develop the recipe in a hammock, with some reggae in the background?

​Mozambique is the main reason for trying out this beer. I used to head up to that tropical paradise a couple times a year. There are so many coconut trees everywhere and ​I love coconut and ​I love beer, ​so ​why not try them together! The ​actual ​recipe development happened in Cape Town though.

What tunes are playing while you’re brewing?

We’ve got a record player so we usually spin vinyls throughout the day. Our favourite record in ​the collection currently is from The Drifters (aptly named) who play fun, soulful 60s music. Otherwise, Kenneth (who helps at the brewery) puts on his upbeat Malawian music.

If you were stuck on a desert island with a case of coconut ale, what would be your last meal?

Tacos! With freshly speared Kingfish and lots of coriander, lime and salsa.​

Your other beer is a lager, tell us a bit about it. Does it pair well with biltong and droewors?

What doesn’t pair well with biltong and droewors?! ​Though this may be biased, the Legend Lager is my favourite beer right now. It’s light yet still very flavourful and great with a snack like biltong.

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Do you remember your first beer? Was there one beer that changed your life?

I wouldn’t say one beer changed my life, but one trip did…to Portland, Oregon. I visited my other half, Anna, in December of 2012 and she signed us up to volunteer at a Winter Ale Festival. This is a festival where ​each brewery can only submit one specialty beer to have on tap. They were all unique porters, stouts, sours and barrel-aged brews and not a single one was under 7% ABV. It just blew my mind how different the beer scene was from South Africa. Breweries were pushing the limits and not afraid to take chances. I’m not going to lie, some of the beers at that festival weren’t my favourite, but they were interesting! I think it’s important as a brewery to make two types of beers: ones for everyday easy drinking that appeal to the masses, and ones that push people out of their comfort zones. We often get people who say, “I don’t normally like IPAs but I like yours.” We need to keep reminding people that these beer categories are so vast and to not immediately discard a certain style after trying one particular beer.

They say behind every good man, is a good… beer! And in this case a good woman. You two make a great team!

​Whew, what would I do without my Anna Banana?! She works a full time job during the day and then does work for Drifter in the evenings and on weekends, and truly is the reason the brewery has gained momentum in this past year. We make a great team because our skill sets really complement each other. This isn’t our first rodeo though! In 2014, we worked on a boat together as captain and stewardess.

You guys were responsible for Cape Town’s most popular underground beer festival (literally, a parking lot) Woodstock Winter Fest. Any plans to top that in 2016?

Haha! That was such a great day! The Woodstock Winter Beer Festival was actually inspired by the one in Oregon we volunteered at. Most breweries in South Africa do light beers and lagers and we wanted to have a festival that featured the dark and delicious brews that we all like to experiment with. Little did we know, how many people would also dig this! This year has proven to be a crazy busy one and our friends at Riot recently hosted the Woodstock Autumn Festival, so we will bring back the winter one again in 2017! In the meantime, we are focusing on smaller events at the brewery. We just did a Mussel and Beer Banquet and we’re looking at another similar event in June. And we will be doing our annual Santa Brewery Crawl in December.

You guys clearly aren’t scared to experiment a little (peanut butter, margarita ​ topped beer). Any new surprises on the cards?

We are taking a trip to Oregon and Alaska in June and we’ll be doing a lot of small batch experiment brewing with friends there, so we should have some more fun stuff coming up! We also want to bring back an old recipe for a ginger infused weiss beer as well as a Berliner weiss. The peanut butter porter will make a come back again for the Woodstock Winter Beer Festival, as well as our smoked porter. Stay tuned!

Last, what would you like the people to get from your beers in the Monthly Mixed Case?

We want people to see the two examples of our beers that I was talking about earlier. The Legend Lager is the easy drinking beer that appeals to the masses and the Stranded Coconut is the one that may stretch some people’s comfort zones. Both are delicious so we mainly just want people to enjoy them!

We have also just launched our own mixed four-pack which is called our Explorer Pack, for people to explore our range of beers. This includes The Cape Town Blonde, Legend Lager, Scallywag IPA and Stranded Coconut. More to come on this!

Thanks for the chat.

To get a taste of Drifter craft beer, get your hand’s on our Mixed Case this month or get a case of Drifter to stock up the bar fridge.

Be-beer-smart

5 scenarios where being craft smart pays off

Off the bat it sounds pretty logical, that craft knowledge can save your bacon on many an occasion, but because we like to be blunt about stuff, we’ve got 5 scenarios for you that clearly benefit from a craft clever oke.

Be-beer-smart

1. Be a bottle store super hero

You’re at the craft beer fridge in your favourite bottle store. To your right is a young man looking hopelessly lost. Eventually he asks you what he should try – time to shine. Rather than shock his palate with a massive IPA, you tell him to get a lager, a pilsner, a pale ale and a weiss. The first two are great because they’re close to his regular commercial lager. The second two are awesome because they’re the start of his journey into the tasty world of ales. He leaves with four awesome beers and a little more confidence. You leave wondering whether or not you’d look good in a cape.

2. Be a beer defender

You’re at a dinner party and there’s a guy waxing lyrical about how wine is more complex than beer. He asks for your opinion and after a slow sip of your IPA you oblige. You explain that beer is made of barley, hops, yeast and water – that’s two more ingredients than wine. Each has its own terroir (that’s wine speak for the environmental conditions). You explain that with these four ingredients you can make two styles of beer: lagers and ales – much like red and white.  And within these styles you get over a hundred types of beers. In conclusion you tell him that in your opinion, beer is as complex if not more than wine – class dismissed.

3. Ace that blind date

You’re on a blind date and she’s asks you to surprise her with a drink from the bar. You ask if there’s anything she doesn’t drink and she tells you beer – challenge accepted. You return to the table with a red looking beverage in a short glass with ice. She takes one sip and she’s completely intoxicated by the cherry and berry aromas coming off the drink. She swears it’s one of the best things she’s ever tasted and asks you what it is. You come clean and tell her it’s actually a beer. A Belgian fruit ale. She’s impressed. You’re chuffed. Chalk one up for beer.

4. Earn beery points

You’re at the annual work lunch and you’re seated right next to the big boss. You’re chatting about beer and he tells you he’d love to get into this whole craft beer thing, but he doesn’t know where to start. You tell him that you know a thing or two and suggest an impromptu beer tasting for the employees. Fast forward two hours later and you’re the craft beer rockstar of the table. You’ve taken tastebuds from South Africa to Europe and America. You’ve converted more than half the table to craft, and you could swear that the cute girl from accounting just winked at you. Job done.

5. Be a craft beer myth buster

You’re standing around at a braai with a couple of new acquaintances. The beers are flowing and it’s a mix between craft and commercial. The conversation soon turns to beer and one fellow pipes up that he doesn’t drink craft. You ask why and he says that craft beer gives you a bigger hangover. You tell him you don’t entirely agree, because craft beer has the exact same ingredients as commercial beer. You ask him what he was drinking and he tells you IPA. It’s then that the penny drops. You explain that IPAs are way higher in alcohol than your average lager. He laughs, you laugh and then you offer him an IPA.
That’s just 5 scenarios. With a monthly subscription to craft beer, that just happens to come with a free Introduction to Craft course that will change your life, you’ll be able to use craft your way out of pretty much any challenge in life.

We’d put our best beer on that.

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Two Okes walk into a bar and tell Beer Country their story

The month of April sees the legend brewing team Two Okes Brewery taking centre stage in our Monthly Mixed Case. We tracked them down to a local bar and got to know them a bit better.

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The Bokke have just beaten the All Blacks and Schalk Burger walks into the brewery, what beer do you give him?

Our Stout, definitely. Nothing like downing something all black, after downing the All Blacks!

Beer and braai is the best pairing out there. What’s on your fire this weekend and what are you drinking?

A kudu potjie with our Irish Ale is awesome, but sometimes we keep things simple and delicious. A great quality T-Bone with our Pale Ale. The hops lift the braai spices to a whole new level.

Tell us where this all began. Was it a case of… Two okes walk into a bar, and leave with a brewery?

On Heritage Day 2013, over a braai and a home-brewed beer, the idea was hatched for a Real Beer Brewery: No compromise on Quality or Taste!  That is how a man with a love for brewing, and a man with the love of beer came together and said “yes” to produce real beer.

Do you remember your very first beer, and was there one beer that changed your life?

My first beer was on the family farm, standing next to the braai with the men. That was a rite of passage for sure. Then much later, on our honeymoon in Knysna, we bumped into Lex Mitchell and his “Milk & Honey” ale changed it all for me. It was like nothing I had ever tasted and it didn’t give me gout, huge bonus!

I guess the best beer I’ve ever had would have to be Smithwick’s Irish Red Ale. It convinced me to come back and really look into making our own real beers – it’s the inspiration for our Two Okes Irish Ale.

What makes your pale ale truly South African?

From the malt, to the yeast, to all the hops… It’s all local, and local is lekker!

What is the Two Okes beer philosophy?

To make real beers with natural ingredients, the natural way.

At League of Beers, we are all about being craft smart. Give us three quick things that every new craft drinker should know?

  • Drink what you like, not what the market tells you.
  • Always support local first.
  • Try a new beer at every opportunity.

Any wild stories from setting up the brewery that you can share?

Beside receiving all the installation instructions in Mandarin, I would say it was while I was cutting into the floor to put in our drains. I hit the office main power supply to our entire industrial complex. Well, sparks and flames, and thank God I was wearing rubberised Wellingtons!

What is your top tip for the guys and gals that are starting out?

Make beer you are passionate about first and foremost. There are enough “macro” styled craft beers out there already.

What tunes are playing while you’re brewing?

Rock music all the way! Pretty sure a Stout taste better with a bit of Def Leppard or Aerosmith behind it…

What would you like the guys and gals to get from your beers?

A taste experience, followed by the satisfaction that you’re drinking a beer that’s been made by this Oke just for you, the other Oke, or Gal!

You are in the Mixed Case with a few international heavy hitters. How do you reckon local craft is standing up on the international stage?

I reckon we are starting to square up nicely, even though we are still very young, and the USA still occupies much of the lime-light. It would be great to see our own “ZAR” craft beer identity out there, but I don’t think we are there just yet. Watch this space…

Got an crazy plans up your sleeve that you can share with us?

Hmmm, there is always something brewing in the back of my mind but let’s keep those just there for now…

Thanks Okes! To get a taste of this delicious local craft, head on over to get this month’s mixed case or explore a case from Two Okes. While you’re at it, sign up to our newsletter so you never miss out on the latest brewers on the block.

vedett-blond-tasting-notes

Tasting League crib notes: Vedett Extra Blond

This full yet refreshing, premium pilsner has been lagered for one month, resulting in a perfect balance between fruity hoppiness and a smooth malt backbone.

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The tasting experience

Appearance: Straw gold with fine bubbles and a pearly white head.
Aroma:  Pleasant hoppiness with slight malt in the background.
Flavour & finish: Subtle fruitiness and vanilla from the hops give way to a well-balanced malt finish. It’s crisp, dry, effervescent and smooth.

Quick fire facts

  • It has 5.2% ABV.
  • Hops used are Saaz, Styrian Golding and Hallertau Magnum.
  • It has a penguin as a mascot.

Overall thoughts

This may well be proof that blondes really do have more fun. A great summertime session beer that doesn’t take itself too seriously and delivers on it’s promise.

#TastingLeague handle

@belgianbeercom

@vedett

Food pairing suggestion

A big pot of fresh black mussels, cooked in beer, with beer on the side. Some lemongrass, fresh lime and coconut milk would put this over the top. Don’t forget the chilli.

Where to drink

After a day at the beach, picking mussels off the rocks.

Get your hands on some Vedett Extra Blond premium pilsner right here, delivered free to your door.

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