Beer review: Nova Beer Project Majik Forest IPA

beer review south africa

Not my best photography I’ll admit. Was too busy enjoying to worry about getting a better pic…

Throughout the pandemic and associated lockdowns, there was a lot of focus on the plight of craft breweries in South Africa. Estimates and industry surveys suggested that the majority of our breweries and contract brands might even go out of business. In fact, the fallout wasn’t nearly as bad as predicted and remarkably, a few new breweries and brands actually launched. One of those brands was Nova Beer Project.

Nova might be new on the scene, but the brewer behind it is no novice to the industry. Anja van Zyl is well known in South African beer, beginning her career at CBC before moving on to become head brewer at Hey Joe Brewery when that opened in 2019. Last year she launched her first solo project, Nova, a gypsy brewery operating in the Cape Town/Winelands region.

Although Anja is probably best known for Belgian styles, the first three beers from Nova have all focused on hops. The debut beer, Breakaway Hoppy Pale Ale won a silver medal at the 2022 African Beer Cup. The second release was Road Less Travelled, a hop-forward lager showcasing German hops. But despite all the preamble, this post is actually about Nova’s third beer – Majik Forest IPA.

And can I start by saying hooray. For Majik Forest is not yet another juice bomb hazy IPA, but a return to the classic West Coast style. I want to reiterate that I have no issue with haze in beers – I don’t require every beer I drinking to be as clear as a Castle Lite (which incidentally I almost never drink), especially if it’s well-hopped. I just like IPAs to have bitterness. And happily, Majik Forest does.

Hopped with five classic American hops, it’s got a fine aroma of naartjie peel and a notable whiff of pine. The pine isn’t just from the hops though. In a bid to bring the outdoors into your glass, Anja added a tea made with pine needles collected from Majik Forest in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.  I don’t know how much of the pine aroma comes from the tea and how much is coming from the Simcoe and Columbus, But either way, it’s a crisp, inviting beer with a long, clean finish and plenty of US hop character.

The beer isn’t all about hops though – there is malt backbone here, but specialty malts have been used with restraint, with the light caramel note not dominating or detracting from the hops at all. In short, it’s my kind of IPA and one I can see myself having a few of in one session this spring – and at 5.4% ABV, it is a beer that you can consume more of a couple of in a single sitting. 3.8/5

You can order Road Less Travelled and Majik Forest from Nova Beer Projects’s new online store now. 




    • Lucy Corne

      Hahaha – there’s room for more than one 😉


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