I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve lost count of how many breweries there are in South Africa. I’d put the total at about 130, including contract brewers, thought I’m sure there are nano-breweries based on backwater farms that only the locals know about. One thing I do know though, is that there is a new craft brewery in Cape Town. It’s called Aegir Project, and I’d highly recommend a visit.
Rory Lancellas is one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable microbrewers I’ve met recently. “Even if this wasn’t kind of in fashion, I’d be doing it anyway,” he says. “It’s my passion.” Rory has been brewing for the past eight years, working at breweries large and small in various parts of New Zealand and Scotland, and his love of beer is evident when you sit down for a chat. It was a happy coincidence that when he moved back to his native Cape Town in 2014 he found the country’s craft beer scene thriving.
Having saved some cash to start up his own brand and secured an investor to cover the rest, Rory set about choosing a location. Originally from Noordhoek, he was having a beer at the Red Herring one afternoon when it hit him that this was just the spot for a brewery. And he was quite right – the small, tree-dotted complex is a chilled place to sit and sip one of the five beers from Aegir’s core range (expect occasional and seasonal ales to follow in due course – Rory is all about experimenting with new recipes).
In case you’re wondering about the name, Aegir is the Norse god of the ocean and is known for raucous parties where he brews batches of ale for the gods… So what about the beers – are they worthy of Cape Town’s beer gods (that’s you)? Well yes, they’re quite superb – a California common designed to appeal to both the entry-level ale drinker and the beer nerd alike; a spicy and complex rye ale that won a medal in the inaugural South African National Beer Trophy contest, an IPA that’s guaranteed to put smiles on hop heads’ faces and the rich English porter, ideal for a post-dinner pint. We were lucky enough to taste the soon-to-be-released pale ale, which will round out the range. Low in alcohol but high in hop aroma, I’d put money on this being Rory’s top seller through the summer months and can’t wait to sample the finished product.
Aegir’s beers are gradually appearing on the market, and you can currently grab a pint at Beerhouse on Long or a bottle at Roeland (incidentally, Aegir’s beers are bottle-conditioned, but you probably wouldn’t guess – he perfected the art in the UK and I’m hoping that some of the newer South African brewers will look and taste and learn from his example). Of course, the best place to sample them is at the tap room itself, where you can grab a taster of each to sip on the deck or even on cinema-style seats in the eclectically decorated interior.
The tap room is open Friday 4pm-8pm, Saturday 12pm-6pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm.