Thursday, March 21, 2019

Craft beer on the hop. A brewery visit and tasting at Boston Brewery

We love beer, almost as much as wine. We both drank beer with our dads when we were very, very small. Lynne had an arrangement with hers: The beer was his, the foam was hers. And John had his own small beer mug. Most wine farms are busy harvesting and making wine; there is very little activity out there for us to write about – everyone is too busy to talk to us - so we decided to go and taste some good beer. You can do a tasting at Boston Brewery in Paarden Eiland for R100 each and you get a choice of 8 beers from their selection of 12. Booking is essential and tours can be booked Monday to Saturday / 021 300 0625
All their beers are made with just four ingredients: malted barley, water, yeast and hops, as, indeed, they should be
In the tasting room with Operations Manager Jason Wiltshire, who took us on a tour
and then gave us a great tasting in their roomy tasting room - which can be hired for corporate functions
He poured us these two Naked Mexicans to take with us to drink on our tour
It is their most popular beer, made in the style of the light lager Mexican beers
No this is not a winery, it’s a brewery. The tanks with pointy ends are where they do the fermenting and when the process is finished and all the sugar has been turned into alcohol, the dead yeast cells, the lees, drop to the bottom, so are easy to get out
Most of the beers they make go to pubs, restaurants, hotels and specialist retail outlets
These are the pressurised casks they are delivered in, so that they can be poured "on tap"
We said "hello", briefly, to a very busy man, the owner and brewer Chris Barnard. He started small, at the time of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, with a home brewing kit and it took over his life - and his bathroom. He owned a plastics factory and his wife made him take his brewing to work. He began by making beer for his own consumption and friends in a corner of the factory. He used to give beer to his workers and they stole his Boston Plastics stickers to put on the beers so they could sell, illicitly, it to shebeens in the townships. Then, one day, he received an order from one for Boston Beer and he realised it was time to go commercial. Then, bit by bit, it encroached on the plastics until it took over and now he has this successful brewery in the same building. It’s quite a success story
Decanting the wort from the mash tun before fermentation; you can see the unfermented new beer running through the pipe
Jason took us into the malted barley store
They order all their barley from Malterie du Chateau in Belgium. It is consistent and gives them exactly what they want
Beside their own beers, they also brew for several other popular craft labels
Some of the malted barley used for lighter beers
And this is the dark roasted barley used for stouts and dark beers
Lynne tried a little and it is intense with flavours of coffee mocha
The tasting room and bar
Their bottled beers are for sale, packed in fours
The tasting glasses
You look down at the brewery, which is kept sparkling clean
We began with the Premium Lager, bready on the nose with a good foam and bitter hops with a hint of fennel seed
and the popular, refreshing Naked Mexican, light yeasty. a little citrus in flavour and very quaffable. 4½% alcohol
Jason explains all the beers while we have the chore of tasting them
A shot of the beer casks in the cellar
IPA beers are very popular and frequently have an underlying citrus note, often orange. This beer, clear and pale gold, is perfumed and mildly malty with quite complex flavours: lots of granadilla with grapefruit and lemony citrus. It is lightly bready from the barley, and finishes with a nice bitterness from the hops, refreshing , delicious and satisfying alone or with a dish like this.  As it is named for the Rock Hopper Penguin, R1 from the price of every bottle is donated to SANCCOB to support their work with penguins and other sea birds. It won Gold at the SA Beer Awards 2017. We made it our Beer of the Week

We tasted the two Weiss beers, so different from each other. They are made with wheat rather than barley. The Johnny Gold has smoky bacon on the nose, ripe banana and yeast with some coriander. It is very popular, many women like it best. The Wild Honey Blonde Crystal Weiss has real fynbos honey added at fermentation - 60 litres of it to a tank. It is the brewery’s second biggest seller. A crisp, almost champagne, sparkle with citrus herbs and some honey notes on the end, and not as lactic as the Johnny Gold. The Whale Tale Ale was made for international visitors looking for a familiar style of beer, like the British and Belgians. It has gentle hops, blended with darker malts and is enjoyable for us who have lived overseas. Perfumed, light citrus, long and slightly sweeter flavours, it slips down very well. The Van Hunks Pumpkin Ale was an experiment and they do use pumpkin and spices in the brewing. Lots of coriander seed and cinnamon on the nose and palate, we immediately thought of it with spicy food and you could definitely cook with this - we were imagining slow cooked mutton or beef in beer. And finally, and nearly also our Beer of the Week, was the Black River Coffee stout. Made originally for winter drinking, it has become very popular all year round. They do add 6 kg of Ethiopian cold-brewed espresso coffee to the tank – liquid, not the grounds. It has lots of coffee mocha chocolate and vanilla flavours, sweetness and then suddenly it tastes like a good wine on the palate
Of course we bought some of these, the Premium Lager (this version is gluten free), the Black River Coffee Stout and the Rock Hoppa IPA, seen here with John’s original beer mug
We so recommend that you do this tasting; it’s a great experience. And take your friends along for the ride
Thank you Jason for being so friendly, hospitable and helpful

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