Den Anker celebrated its 21st birthday last year and for most of that time the draught line-up included an approachable ale brewed in Belgium specifically for Waterfront restaurant. Twenty years on, Anker Brew is still available, but Cape Town’s beer landscaped has changed a tad and with a dozen-plus breweries and counting in the city, it’s no longer necessary to produce the beer overseas. These days Anker is brewed here in the Mother City and for the first time it is available in bottles.
I sadly can’t remember what the original Anker Brew tasted like. To be honest, I rarely ordered it – if I’m drinking at Den Anker I tend to opt for something big and bold and undeniably Belgian. Anker Brew, was always meant to be the lighter, easier-to-drink option and the bottled version certainly lives up to that.
Cooper-coloured and slightly hazy with a fluffy, lingering head, it’s mostly malt on the nose – lots of toffee and a sprinkling of toast. Hops are there in the background – just a hint of flowers and ground pepper. I didn’t pick up any of the yeast character you associate with many Belgian brews – it’s very clean (in fact the promo notes describe it as lager-like) and I suppose my biggest critique would be that it doesn’t seem ‘Belgian’ enough…
Flavour-wise it’s likewise mostly about the malt, and that’s no bad thing. There are subtle layers of burnt sugar, well-toasted bread and something approaching treacle toffee, but not quite that bitter. There is a delicious, well-balanced bitterness though, making this a very refreshing and easy-to-down brew. It’s not something I’d order more than one of at Den Anker, but it’s certainly an enjoyable beer and one that will hopefully serve as a gateway beer to lager drinkers who wander into Den Anker for a plate of frites and a bowl of mussels. And in bottles it would be great around the braai – a much more flavourful but still approachable and thirst-quenching alternative to pale lager.
Anker Brew is now available in select liquor stores and bars around Cape Town. Get in touch with the Belgian Beer Company for more info on stockists.