All posts by Andrea Fedder

Andrea is our editor here at League of Beers. When she's not skilfully honing or writing articles, she enjoys all things outdoors, or a good craft beer with friends. Part German, part South African, it's no small wonder her loyalties lie with CBC.
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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.

All you need to do this Christmas is #GiftBeer

All you need to do this Christmas is #GiftBeer

Whether you call it Christmas, the holidays or the festive season, there is no doubt about it – this time of year can make us all a little bit silly. Never mind the work pressures of culminating year long innovations, family flocking into your sacred space, bouncing kiddies and hormonal teenagers officially underfoot for nearly two whole months and about a bazillion tourists infiltrating all our favourite hang outs – this time of year comes with the added bonus of living out the Christmas ideal. But really with all this other stuff going on, who has time for Martha Stewart’s tutorial on how to make spray on icicles for the windows? Not us.

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This year, our one Silly Season objective is to give you more down time. How are we going to do that? Well first of all we’re going to remind you that you can simplify 80% of your gifting this Christmas if you just #GiftBeer. We promise there isn’t an adult under this hot South African sun of ours that won’t embrace you with sheer gratitude for bestowing upon them the one cure, the panacea, the anecdote for enduring the constant charm and chaos of kids and family 24/7 at this time of year.

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We’ve even co-brewed a festive beer with the Brew Mistress to commemorate the all consuming awesomeness that is beer – a sessionable friend to share and hold dear all season long.

Next, we’re going to help you see that you really don’t need all that tinsel and spray on snow adorning your every light fitting. In this seemingly endless summer of ours, why make the indoors a festive hooplah when really the only place you should be at this time of year, is stretched out in a camping chair, ‘round the braai or lazing on a lilo, chilled beer in one hand and the literary journey of Lucy Corne’s new Beer Safari in the other.

All you have to get up for is to flip that snoek, sizzling away in its apricot and beer jam marinade. (Don’t worry, we’re not just taunting you – Beer Country share the recipe in this month’s Craft Beer Times Cooking with Craft section)

Stick with us this month and we’ll make sure that, come Christmas Day you are about as relaxed as one can be, with plenty headspace to enjoy what this season is really about. Great local craft. Oh and family, of course.

So – keep it simple – #GiftBeer. We tested the theory and it seems people love getting beer.

Tis indeed the Saison to be hoppy, all ye good beer people.

Tasting League Notes: Standeaven Best Black Gold Lager

Tasting League Notes: Standeaven Best Black Gold Lager

This brew, the Best Black Gold Lager, is Shaun Standeaven’s favourite and after a couple it’s not hard to see why. It’s based on his Bohemian Pilsner with dark malt and result is pure black gold.

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The Tasting experience:

Appearance: Hazy off-black with a tan head
Aroma: Roasted malt and nuts
Flavour & finish: Roasted malt and vanilla. It has smooth carbonation and finishes on a subtle bitter note

Quick fire facts:

  • It’s brewed with Saaz, Hallertauer and Southern Promise hops
  • The brew only uses 2% dark malt
  • The label is inspired by Shaun’s love of the beer but some people say it looks like Madiba

Overall thoughts:

A great take on a dark lager that brings together the crisp snap of a pilsner and the roasty, toasty full-bodied malt character of a dark beer.

TastingLeague:

@TheOddBeer

Food pairing:

We suggest pairing it with our lip smacking, finger licking, fiery Durban-inspired lamb bunny chow.

Where to drink:

Around a table full of bunny chows in the company of five more Best Black Golds.

Get going on those tasting notes with a case of Standeaven Best Black Gold Lager or November’s Mixed Case.

Join our TastingLeague on Twitter or Instagram by sharing your tasting notes with us and you can win R1000 in beer. Check out the TastingLeague rules and get tasting.

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Tasting League Notes: Devil’s Peak Lager

Yes you read correctly, Devil’s Peak have made a lager! This is an easy drinking, crisp example of a lager made for the South African summer.

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The Tasting experience:

Appearance: A crystal clear pale yellow
Aroma: Malt and hints of spice from the hops
Flavour: Malt sweetness and subtle hopping. It finishes crisp, clean and dry

Quick fire facts:

  • It’s brewed with the famous noble Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hop
  • It’s made with 100% malt, no sugar is added
  • It sits at 11 IBUs and 4% ABV

Overall thoughts:

We’re so used to Devil’s Peak smashing us over the head with massively hoppy beers that we have to admit, this lager comes as a surprise. Good thing it’s a very tasty surprise.

TastingLeague:

@DevilsPeakBC

Food pairing:

We suggest pairing it with our devilishly good panko pork pops with sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Where to drink:

While sitting on the third stool at the left side of the bar at the home of Devil’s Peak – The Taproom.

Get going on those tasting notes with a case of Devil’s Peak Lager or November’s Mixed Case.

Join our TastingLeague on Twitter or Instagram by sharing your tasting notes with us and you can win R1000 in beer. Check out the TastingLeague rules and get tasting.

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Tasting League Notes: Standeaven African Pale Ale

This unique pale ale is Shaun Standeaven’s tip of the hat to local beer ingredients. It’s an all African pale ale and it’ll make you want to bust out a Johnny Clegg number.

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The Tasting experience:

Appearance: A hazy copper
Aroma: Prominent guava from the South African hops
Flavour & finish: Very fruity with notes of caramel and biscuit Finishes smooth, crisp and well rounded

Quick fire facts:

  • It’s brewed with Southern Promise, Southern Passion and a touch of Cascade hops
  • It has a strong malt backbone to balance the bitterness
  • It’s brewed with caramalt

Overall thoughts:

With all local ingredients this is a truly South African gem. It’s complex yet easy drinking and with Durban being as humid as it is, we can see why this is a such a popular thirst buster.

TastingLeague:

@TheOddBeer

Food pairing:

We suggest pairing it with our Shaun Standeaven inspired chicken, prawn and pineapple kebab with African pale ale marinade.

Where to drink:

At the top of one of the one thousand hills in the Valley of 1000 Hills. Try say that fast after a few beers.

Get going on those tasting notes with a case of Standeaven African Pale Ale or November’s Mixed Case.

Join our TastingLeague on Twitter or Instagram by sharing your tasting notes with us and you can win R1000 in beer. Check out the TastingLeague rules and get tasting.

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Watch and learn: #TastingLeague craft beer tasting videos

Every month we at the League go on the hunt for brews worthy of the Monthly Mixed Case. In each of these specially curated cases we bring you interesting beers, their unique stories as well as the brewers behind the craft. Since the boys at Beer Country know all about living for your passion we send them off with a case to go enjoy a tasting experience of the month’s brews, often with guest beer appreciators or the focus brewers themselves, while chatting about the tasting profiles of each beer.

Here is your rabbit hole into joining the TastingLeague. Grab a Mixed Case and drink along to our craft beer tasting videos.

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To be a part of our #TastingLeague (and win a R1000 League Voucher) check out the Tasting League rules here and get tasting.

Tasting League Episode 16

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Standeaven African Pale Ale | Devil’s Peak Lager | Innis & Gunn Bourban Dark Ale | Standeaven Best Black Gold | La Trappe Puur | La Trappe Witte Trappist

Tasting League Episode 15

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Smack! Republic Hillbrow Honey Ale| Smack! Republic Bree Street Belle Golden Ale | Inni & Gunn White Oak Wheat Beer| Stickman Foreman IPA | Smack! Republic Newtown Nemesis Stout

Tasting League Episode 14

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
PistonHead Kustom Lager | Jack Black’s Lager | Woodstock Happy Pills | Brasserie de Silly Double Engien Blonde | Brasserie de Silly La Divine | Caldera Ashland Amber | AND UNION Friday IPA

Tasting League Episode 13

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Urthel Samaranth | Urthel Hop-it | Urthel Saisonnaire  Mainstream APA| Brasserie de Silly Double Enghien | Brasserie de Silly Abbaye de Forest | Caldera Hopportunity Knocks

Tasting League Episode 12

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Fraser’s Folly Pale Ale | Oakham Inferno | Fraser’s Folly Old Raj | Duvel 2015 Triple Hop | Fraser’s Folly Stout | De Garve Pickled Horse Porter

Tasting League Episode 11

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Red Sky Amber Ale | Red Sky Pale Ale | Red Sky Rauch Bier | Oakham Citra | Innis&Gunn Toasted Oak | Cisco Winter Shredder

Tasting League Episode 10

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Riot Golden Ale | Von B Light Mild Ale | Harviestoun Broken Dial | Riot IPA | Mainstream Altbier | Innis&Gunn Rum Finish

Tasting League Episode 9

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Gulden Draak | Devil’s Peak First Light | Mainstream African Vibe | Devil’s Peak Silver Tree | Striped Horse Pilsner | Devil’s Peak Black IPA

 

Tasting League Episode 8

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Johnny Gold Weiss Beer | Wingman’s Weiss | Wale Tale Ale | Peak Organic Hop Blanc | 33 Degrees South IPA

Tasting League Episode 7

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Wild Beast Blonde Ale | Wild Beast Amber Ale

Tasting League Episode 6

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Leopold 7 Belgian | Cisco Pumple Drumpkin | Darling Brew Christmas Ale | Wild Beast Spicy Beast of Christmas | Brew Dog Santa Paws | Bornem Dubble | Big City Brewing IPA

Tasting League Episode 5

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Savage Unlager | Savage Weiss Beer | Savage Pale Ale | Savage Amber Ale | Savage IPA

Tasting League Episode 4

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Garagista Pale Ale

Tasting League Episode 3

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
CBC Lager | CBC Pilsner | CBC  Amber Weiss | CBC Crystal Weiss | CBC Oktoberfest | CBC Mandarina IPA | CBC Imperial IPA

Tasting League Episode 2

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Citizen Alliance | Citizen Diplomat | Citizen Saboteur IPA

Tasting League Episode 1

Craft beers featured in this tasting video
Cooper’s Pale Ale | Apollo blonde ale | Bruheart No.2 | &Union StephWeiss | Red Sky Pinotale | Basset Breweries PenningtonPride Porter

Meeting Maboneng: discovering a place of light amid the big smoke

Meeting Maboneng: discovering a place of light amid the big smoke

I’d never really thought of Jozi as anything other than a concrete jungle. Buildings, fast paced living, smog – those were my unexplored, narrow minded preconceptions. But the great thing about a career tied to craft beer is that it takes you on a winding journey, if you let it. And when the pull of great beer takes you to uncharted territories, no matter what your pre-formed views are, you go. You go with a big, open heart and a well lined stomach.

Meeting Maboneng: Discovering a place of light amid the big smoke

On this venture up North, our pull was of course October’s feature brewer Smack! Republic. Founders Andrew, Grant and Dave set up the Smack Brewery in the regenerated mix-community, urban space of Maboneng Precinct – formerly a somewhat run down industrial area made up of abandoned warehousing and factories – about 3 years ago, round about the time that interest in developing the area was ignited.

Our Uber driver takes us straight from the airport. The two hour flight left me desperate to diverge from the salmon run of commuters – even if it that meant hitting the streets of Jozi instead of a cool hotel room.

We turn down Fox Street and as the walls slowly, unobtrusively begin to wear more and more colour, the simple signage transforming into edgy logos and trendy typography, I find myself experiencing a heady mix of intrigue and enthusiasm for exploration with just a smidge of Cape Tonian arrogance put in it’s place. Alright Jozi, show me what you’ve got.

The guys at Smack! not only sell their Jozi inspired craft beers at the renowned food and design Market on Main, but also offer a highly recommended, guided food and beer pairing tour through the colourful cobble streets of Maboneng. We’re about to get the condensed version. But not before we devour some of the most deliciously cheesy chilli poppers, chicken chimichangas and beer-guaritas from Mama Mexicana up from Arts on Main.

As we set off on foot, Hillbrow Honeys in hand, every corner of Maboneng comes alive, something awesome where ever I glance. Chalk drawn birds glide along brick walls. Old school bioscopes rub shoulders with new school craft serving pizzerias. Renovated loft apartments share courtyards with the local neighbouring brewery and the vintage car parked on a rooftop plays nighttime host to sultry salsa dancers as they serenade Jozi’s setting sun. It quickly becomes clear after many a stop for either beer, iced vanilla lattes or mango sorbet from the Cocobel food truck that this is a quickly developing area not to be underestimated.

Maboneng is by all accounts one of the true lights of Jozi’s heaving inner city metropolis, a colourful hive of eager and talented entrepreneurs in search of fertile creative spaces where they can not only flank off from the suit and tie, corporate lifestyle but also a place to provide a sanctuary for tourists and locals alike amid the ever reaching skylines of Joburg.

For now it’s only a four block radius but with more and more eyes setting their sights on the possibilities of the quickly expanding Maboneng Precinct, I for one can’t wait to go back and enjoy some beers on a high-up roof top, humbled by honey hued brews on a humid night under orange skies.

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Going gold, Smack! in Maboneng and beer fests in October

Everywhere we look, things are framed, frosted and dipped in gold. And in our crafty circles it seems especially true for the month of October. We’re a good few games into the Rugby World Cup and even people who aren’t big into the sport of the season are turning into rugga buggas – a good thing since every bit of positive energy will help us bring home the gold (or at least the bronze if Rob Heyns’ rugby predictions, with interesting winning and losing caveats, are on target).

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We’re also turning our beer spotlight north and shedding some focus on our crafty cousins in Jozi. We Cape Tonians may think we’re hipper than hip but bustling precincts like Maboneng have a thriving culture of craft beer appreciation, murmuring weekend markets and a night life that’ll make you wish the lights don’t ever come back on. We decided to trek up to the City of Gold to experience the craft culture in Maboneng for ourselves. And while up there we even donned a little glitter and gold to attend the annual eCommerce awards, our first chance to rub shoulders with fellow finalists. (thanks to your support in embracing the ‘to your door’ world of craft experience).

Our Mixed Case for October is a pretty wild combination of all of the above, with our focus brewer Smack! Republic taking centre stage. We even have a specially sourced UK brew as a toast to the Brits hosting our Bokke – a beer that brings together the best of both nations in October’s Cooking with Craft recipe. All we’re saying is boerewors-pie, people (available in the Craft Beer Times and coming soon on the blog.

If you’re hosting your mates for the games this month, get your hands on our special offer World AND UNION case of twenty Friday IPAs. Serious bang for your bok.

And to finish the month off we have a little slew of beer festivals in the name of Oktoberfest – the ultimate coming together of beer brethren to consume abnormally large quantities of this liquid gold, stamp heavy bottomed pint glasses on tables and sing fa-la-li fa-la-la until the cows come home.

So, don the Dirndls and Lederhosen and drink those hoppy hued beers while you cheer on Jean leading our boys (even if it’s from the sidelines) to many a sweet tasting victory. Jozi’s craft culture and your monthly mix of beers will be waiting for you at half-time. Just don’t get knocked out – nobody wants that.

Not part of the craft beer loop yet? Sign up to our weekly newsletters to be abreast of the best craft news, recipes and inspiration going forward.

Jason Lilley's beer marinated wing rib on the bone with beer bread and boozy onions

Jason Lilley’s beer marinated wing ribs on the bone with beer bread and boozy onions

Whether you know him as Jason Lilley, the baker on Bree Street or Captain Bread – you can be sure he knows what to do with a good AND UNION Friday IPA. Here’s Jason’s recipe forbeer marinated wing ribs on the bone with his brilliant take on beer bread and some boozy onions. Hello, Friday.

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“For this I used a 5 week aged 3.6 kg wing rib on the bone from FrankieFenner Meat Merchants.”

Ingredients:

For the beer marinade

250 ml AND UNION Friday IPA (drink the rest)
80 ml lime juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves only, discard stalks
125 ml olive oil
5 ml freshly ground white pepper

Method:

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together.
2. Place the slab of meat in a large ziplock bag. Add marinade. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Don’t marinade for too long as the meat will become a visually unpleasant greyish colour.
3. I used my Big Green Egg to cook this guy. I got the temp up to 300C, if you’re braaing on a half drum or Weber make sure your coals are super hot.
4. Season both sides with salt and white pepper, then sear the meat for about 5 minutes on both sides.
5. If cooking on the Egg, add the convector for indirect cooking and drop the temp to 200C grill temp. If braaing, spread out the coals a bit to bring down the temp. Cook for a further 15 minutes. Keep the dome closed. You want it to be medium rare.
6. Then take the wing rib off the heat and rest for 30 minutes.

Recipe for my beer bread

This is a very easy recipe!

Ingredients

3 cups stone gound white bread flour
12 g fresh yeast
1 tsp brown sugar
1 bottle AND UNION Friday IPA (room temp)
1 tsp salt

Method

1. Mix the yeast, sugar and half the beer in a small bowl and leave for 5 minutes. It should start to bubble.
2. In a large bowl, add the flour and salt. Create a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.
3. With your fingers, pull the flour in towards the centre and gently mix adding the rest of the beer.
4. Continue to mix until fully combined, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball (about 2 minutes).
5. Place in a bowl, wrap and allow to prove for about 1 hour.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide and shape into 6 equal sized balls.
7. Place on a floured tray and allow to prove, covered, for about an hour.
8. I cook these suckers on the Big Green Egg, using the convector and the pizza stone. Get the grill temp to about 240C.
9. Heavily flour the rolls and score them straight down the middle.
10. Bake them directly on the stone for about 15 minutes.

Recipe for boozy onions

3 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 bottle AND UNION Friday IPA
2 bay leaves
25 g brown sugar
100 g butter

Method:

1. In a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions, beer, bay leaves and sugar.
2. Cook down for about 45 minutes. Add the butter to finish off.

To assemble your meal, cut the roll in half. Cut 5mm thick slices from the wing rib. Place on the roll and chuck a healthy portion of boozy onions on top. Enjoy with another Friday IPA.

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If you’re getting the World AND UNIONmixed case, like any good rugby and braai lover should, you won’t run out anytime soon.

Thanks to Jason Lilley for sharing this kicker of a recipe and images

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First rounds for September: the heritage is in the mix

We have a tendency as a society to want to live in seasons beyond those provided by nature. We dedicate entire months of the year around monumentus days within that month. December is Christmas, February is the month of love, July is lived in honour of Mandela and Augustour birthday month. And so when September rolls around, our social compasses find their true Norths around Heritage Day.

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For this month we are of course thinking about all the best possible ways to enjoy a good braai since National Braai Day has become synonymous with South Africas heritage and happen to have not one but two recipes in our Cooking with Craft section for you (one of them by another great company shipping things in boxes).

But as you raise your glass, toasting to South Africa (and noting the golden hue of your brew for your TastingLeague notes) reflect for a moment on this thought. While it is truly wonderful to come together around a common interest like enjoying good grub off the open flame, Heritage Day is as much, if not more, about celebrating our differences. Just as we could never have built the League off the existence of any one beer, so too could we not have a rainbow nation without embracing the unity in our diversity.

A Mixed Case wouldnt be much of a mix with only blondes in it and its the very journey from lager to stout that allows us to appreciate each in its own right, all living happily in one box of beer. So, heres to an ayoba Heritage Month South Africa, and remember, braaing is the one thing we dont need electricity for. Eish.