Voting has closed and the responses have laboriously been tallied. Just over 200 beer lovers took part in the second annual Brewmistress South African Beer Awards with dozens and dozens of breweries, bars and bottle stores nominated. Although it makes the count a bit of a pain in the ass, the fact that so many liquor stores and bars/restaurants are being mentioned shows that craft beer’s footprint is happily growing.
Just like last year, a number of votes were discarded. I have no issue with a brewery sharing the awards and encouraging their fans to vote – I appreciate the support for the blog and I also love it when a brewery has loyal fans. But those votes must be somewhat balanced. Sure, vote for that brewery as your favourite and pick one of their beers as beer of the year, but if you write the same brewery’s name as your preferred liquor store, your top event and the biggest news story of the year, well, you’re not really paying attention are you?!
So here they are all the winners and runners up for this year’s awards:
1st: Mad Giant
2nd: Aegir Project and CBC
Best destination brewery
1st: Mad Giant
2nd: Zebonkey Brewery
3rd: Aegir Project
It was interesting to see how people struggled with this category, which required nominations to have opened within the past year. 2018 has not been a bumper year for craft beer in SA. If I had to pick a true winner in this category it would be “dunno”, “haven’t been to any new ones” or “can’t think of one”, but that wouldn’t be any fun so here are the ones that did get the votes
1st: Soul Barrel Brewing Co.
2nd: Old Splitty Beer Factory
3rd: Fisanthoek Brewing Co.
Best liquor store
The top three remained the same this year, albeit in a different order. And again, a shout out to the Tops chain who garnered 60 votes across their many branches.
1st: Biggest Little Beer Shop
2nd: Hillcrest Tops Spar
3rd: Roeland Liquors
Best beer bar/restaurant
Last year this was the tightest category of all, but this year there was no competition, with voters from Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern Cape joining Capetonians to crown the best beer bar. I also included a vote for “Babana Jim’ because I assumed that person had been on the Space Llama…
1st: Banana Jam Cafe
2nd: Capital Craft (this included votes for both branches)
3rd: Beerhouse (likewise included votes for both branches)
Best beerfest or event
No new entries here, with Woodstock Winter Beer Fest again just missing out on the top three…
1st: Cape Town Festival of Beer
2nd: Clarens Craft Beer Festival
3rd: Stellenbosch Craft Beer Festival
Best beer branding
1st: Mad Giant
2nd: Devil’s Peak Brewing Co.
3rd: Kennel Brewery
Biggest beer story of the year
Ah this was an interesting read. There was absolutely no competition here – all the biggest news stories came from one brewery. In fact, I might just rename this the Devil’s Peak Award for Controversy and Collabs. Around a third of respondents mentioned DP in some respect – for their many, often awesome collab brews, for their buyouts/buy-ins and for their “media storms”, also described by voters as “weird marketing and PR choices”. Many made mention of “Devil’s Peak being the only true South African brewery!” (that story is here and here in case you missed it) and some simply wrote “Devil’s Peak”, but by far the biggest beer story of the year was “Tapgate” – and you can read about that here.
Honourary mention goes to the Jack Black/Heineken deal. And also a shout out to the guy who misunderstood the question and thought we wanted to hear his best beer story, which was apparently “24 cans in one night”… Oh and the Vale shitstorm also got a few votes.
The Doc Brown award for outstanding innovation
What I found fascinating here is that many of the votes – including most of those for the winner – were not about beer at all, but specified an environmental reason behind their vote. Take note breweries – the future is green (but not when it comes to bottle colour, obviously).
1st: Mad Giant for going plastic-free
2nd: Drifter Brewing Co.
3rd: Little Wolf
Beer of the Year
This category is a giant headache because of the sheer number of beers nominated (I lost count around 107) but in the end three beers stood out as capturing the hearts and palates of South African beer drinkers in 2018. Eight beers tied for third place, happily hailing from four different provinces.
1st: Metal Lane x Saggy Stone Champagne Citra Nova Brut IPA
2nd: Mad Giant Killer Hop
Big thanks to those who voted and to everyone who makes the craft beer scene a very happy place to be. Stay tuned for an update on industry stats, hopefully coming later this week…