I’m just a humble brewer,” says Wolfgang Koedel, as he stands amid brewing equipment that is more than likely giving some of the guys in our group of cerevisaphiles a beer chubby.
The brewery in question is the one that has been talked about in beer circles for close to a year. It’s the brewery that brought the former Paulaner brewer back to the mash tun, the brewery with big local and international backing, the brewery that has arguably the prettiest location of them all. It could well be the brewery that changes the South African craft beer scene. It is of course the Cape Brewing Company, better known as CBC.
CBC sits on the Spice Route winery in Paarl, a joint venture between wine giant Charles Back and Swedish brewery Åbro. They’re taking brewing to a new level in SA, not just from the scale of their equipment, but in the way the brews are presented. This is ‘beer à la Winelands’, with dedicated ‘tasting pods’, information on the brewing process adorning the walls, tasting notes to peruse and informative brewery tours to be offered in the future.
CBC was our second stop on what was intended to be a day-long jaunt around the Beerlands (the name I’m bestowing on the renegade beer route sitting in the Winelands), but this is the kind of place you don’t want to leave, so after a morning tasting session at Wild Clover, the multi-brewery tour never ventured further than CBC’s jaw-dropping brewery, tasting room and the Barley & Biltong Emporium, with its snack platters, impressive biltong menu and vast views.
The brewery is still in its early stages, with yet more brewing equipment to arrive and a few nips and tucks to be made to the tasting area. Beers currently on tap are the product of a collaboration brew by Wolfgang and Åbro’s Lennarth Anemyr and include a malty pilsner that’s in Urquell’s league, a rauchbier whose smoky aroma will have you craving bacon and a heavily-hopped lager that pushes the IBU boundaries of what a lager can be. My tipple of choice for the day was the pilsner, a world-class beer that was ideal with a handful of biltong and some sunny Sunday weather.
But Wolfgang fans will be pleased to know that the first batch of weiss has been brewed at CBC and in a little over a month, it will replace the Åbro beers along with Wolfgang’s lager, pilsner and a kristall weiss (a filtered weissbier). Throughout the year you can also expect seasonal brews that stray far from the German styles that Wolfgang is known for. Throw in some soon-to-be-added beer food, a grappa distillery, chocolatier, pizza joint, a posh nosh option and, of course, Spice Route’s superb Shiraz (and the rest) for tasting, and you have what will be a premier stop on the Beerlands route.