A tjop and dop. That’s South African slang for a barbequed beef chop and a beer or alcoholic drink. Join us as we learn more about South African beer, the local craft beer scene, and what to order on a sunny summer’s day.
Brief History of South African Beer
Beer drinking is an integral part of South African culture and has been for hundreds of years. The oldest South African beer is brewed with malted sorghum and known locally as umqombothi. This beer is traditionally brewed by each household and used during cultural ceremonies.
During the 17th Century, Dutch Settlers arrived in South Africa and introduced the classic lager type of beer brewed with barley and hops. This was an essential supply to these seafarers to combat scurvy on their long voyages.
The first large commercial brewery was established in the 1890s to provide beer to the gold rush town of Johannesburg. Their signature beer Castle Lager was the predominant beer in South Africa for decades and remains highly popular today.
What Is The Most Popular Beer In South Africa?
It may have something to do with the hot climate but South Africans are extremely dedicated to drinking lager beer. The most popular one is Carling Black Label. This award-winning beer has an earthy taste and smooth finish.
A similar beer that is equally as popular is Lion Lager. With a slight malty aroma and lower alcohol content this pale lager is easy to drink and a firm favourite across the country.
For the younger generation, Castle Lite has become the most popular South African beer. This low kilojoule, low carbohydrate beer is crisp with a slight bitterness and has a mild hoppy aroma.
What Are The Other Major Beer Brands Brewed In South Africa?
Although lager beers are predominant there are a few other major beer brands brewed in South Africa. The biggest of these is Hansa Pilsner which is a medium-bodied beer with mild carbonation and the traditional malty flavour of a pilsner.
For stout fans, the major brand is Castle Milk Stout. This typical stout has a dark colour from the heavily roasted malt and a thick creamy head. It has a strong bitter flavour which is balanced with notes of butterscotch and caramel.
The biggest brand of sorghum brewed beer is Leopard Sorghum Beer. This beer comes packaged in a traditional cardboard carton and has a cloudy brown colour with a sour fruity taste.
Does South Africa Have Good Beer?
The answer to this is a resounding yes!
A few South African beer brands have won international quality awards. The most famous is Carling Black Label which has won numerous awards for its taste.
Devil’s Peak King’s Blockhouse IPA is a highly regarded ale that has won several awards at local beer shows. The flagship beer of this craft brewery has a bold double-hopped flavour with strong citrus notes.
Another excellent ale is CBC Mandarina Bavaria IPA. This German-style IPA has a strong malt flavour with a bitter dry finish and notes of nectarine and lemon.
How Much Is Beer In South Africa?
Most beers are very reasonably priced in comparison to the rest of the world with a recent study suggesting that the average beer in South Africa only costs around $2.
Supermarket prices for major brands are even lower than this whereas craft beers can be considerably more expensive.
What Are The Different Styles Of South African Beer?
During the last twenty years, South Africa has seen a huge influx of smaller breweries producing different styles of beer.
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.
Another unusual South African beer to try is Gilroy Traditional Ruby Ale. With a distinctive reddish colour, this ale has a delicious toasted malt flavour and notes of toffee and nuts.
Dog and Fig Stewige Stout is a less well known South African stout. This robust beer is brewed with chocolate malted barley and has a creamy head with moderate bitterness.
What Are The Best South African Beers To Try?
One of the best South African beers you should try is Devil’s Peak Juicy Lucy. As the name suggests this zesty IPA is packed with fruit and citrus flavours and has a wonderful aroma of tropical fruits.
CBC Amber Weiss is the best Weiss style beer to try. It has a highly aromatic and fruity taste with notes of clove and banana and only a slightly bitter finish.
The best brown ale that everyone should try is Woodstock Mr Brownstone. This medium bodied brown ale is exceptionally smooth with a vanilla and hazelnut aroma. The slight hop bitterness is balanced with a sweet roasted cocoa bean flavour.
What are the Best Microbrew or Craft Beers in South Africa?
With over 200 craft breweries now operating in South Africa, there is a huge variety of good quality craft beer available in South Africa.
One award winning craft beer is Jungle Paradise IPA, brewed by Afro Caribbean Brewing Company. This double IPA is extra fruity with peach and apricot notes. Coming from the same microbrewery is The Space Llama double IPA that recently won the award for Africa’s Best Beer.
Another highly rated craft beer is Devil’s Peak’s Mikkeller Copenhagen. This New England style IPA has a mild bitterness and flavours of orange and passion fruit.
What Are The Best South African Beers To Pair With South African Food?
By far the most popular meal in South Africa is barbecued meat accompanied by ice cold Castle Lager. This mouthwatering beer pairing is an essential part of every social gathering.
For a uniquely South African combination, a great pairing is ostrich steak with Jack Black Brewers Lager. This full-bodied lager enhances the rich gamey flavour of the ostrich.
Lighter flavoured meals like barbecued fish pair well Hansa Pilsner as the mild bitterness and sweeter taste of the pilsner complement the delicate fish perfectly.
How To Order A Beer In South Africa (Like A Local)
With eleven official languages in South Africa, there are a lot of different ways to order a beer like a local depending on where you are in the country.
The best place to start is to greet your bartender with the general greeting of “Howzit my bru” and then just ask for a South African beer in English.