I first met Mike and Don Agar circa 2012 at the Solstice Festival, SA’s first craft beer fest which at that point was in its fifth or sixth year. Back then the Agars were avid homebrewers, their beers available only at a couple of festivals.
Since turning pro in 2014, Agar’s Brewery has developed quite the cult following, above all for their IPA, Tomahawk, and their imperial IPA, Warrior. I recently had the pleasure of swinging by the brewery in Kya Sands to stock up on beers for a short-but-sweet trip to the Pilanesberg and I can confirm that both IPAs are fantastic fresh from the bottling line. As I sipped them on and after game drives, I happily took no notes at all – I just drank and enjoyed and yes, lamented a little when the case was done and the president had decided to once again ban booze (I was drinking a Tomahawk as he spoke in fact. And drowned my sorrows with our last Warrior once he was done).
So I failed to bring any back to Cape Town, but what I did have in my fridge was a single bottle of Agar’s Red Ale. It was Agar’s first time entering the African Beer Cup and their red ale took a silver medal in the 2021 competition.
It’s a beautiful looking pint, whose colour I think is best described as luminescent chestnut. Agar’s Red Ale is a pretty subtle beer aroma-wise and needs a little time out of the fridge if you hope to pick up much on the nose. Once it’s at the right temperature (about 7-8 degrees Celsius is ideal, if you’re counting) a somewhat muted orange note emerges – marmalade with just a hint of caramel.
It’s a nicely balanced beer, with toffee and caramel representing the malt family, while an assertive bitterness and citrus character prove that hops also turned up to the party in force. Medium bodied and perfectly carbonated, it’s highly drinkable and the kind of beer you could fill your fridge with to drink between imperials. I give it a 3.6/5.
Agar’s are currently running specials for those who pre-order to help keep things ticking along while the ban is in place. You get R30 off every case ordered online at www.agarsbrewery.co.za, or directly via WhatsApp on 0836070747. There’s 10% off all keg sales and keg fills and a free beer at the next brewery open day for everyone ordering stock before the alcohol ban is lifted. Delivery fees start at R60 or you can collect from the brewery. As the Agar’s team say, “These invaluable pre-sales go a long way to paying our staff, rent, and other essential monthly running costs.”
Keep supporting and keep drinking good beer, good people.