Friday Beers: Banana Jam Cafe in Cape Town

It is probably a little known fact that I am a Pastafarian – that is a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And if you don’t know what that is, I recommend bouncing over to the wonderful world of Wikipedia for a quick read – it’s worth it. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

Celebrating Banana Jam’s 20th birthday in 2019. Photo credit: Murray Slater – or at least I stole it from his FB page…

One of the things Pastafarians revere is pirates. Another is beer. And our most cherished day of the week is Friday. Every Friday is celebrated with that most sacred of beverages, but none more so than a Friday when we don’t have to go to work and the Friday Beers can start earlier. Some people call it Good Friday. I think all Fridays are good so I like to think of this one as Awesome Friday. And there really is only one place to suitably celebrate this auspicious day: Banana Jam Cafe.

While my (unofficial) membership of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not widely known, my love of Banana Jam is. Over the years I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has assumed I own the place. And I do not like to think of how much money I have spent there since moving to Cape Town in 2010, mostly because it makes me realise I am funding Greg Casey’s travels and many of you know how I feel about that.

I think it’s safe to say that Banana Jam is the home of Pastafarianism in South Africa. I first celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day there in 2012 thanks to their pirate-friendly rum selection and Lucy-friendly beer selection. And during lockdown, the upstairs brewpub became the official meeting point for the city’s rapidly growing Pastafarian community. So there was really no other contender for today’s Friday Beers post.

I feel like I don’t really need to say much about Banana Jam Cafe. If you’re reading a blog dedicated to craft beer in South Africa, you have very likely either made the pilgrimage or have it on your to do list. I have written about it many times before. I once called it the “headquarters of the South African craft beer revolution” and often refer to it as the “spiritual home of the SouthYeasters Homebrewers Club“. I stand by both of these statements.

Church at ACBC

Banana Jam was one of the first places in SA to offer craft beer on any scale back in 2011. I think they started out with eight or ten taps, which has grown to 30 over the years. They were the first to celebrate IPA Day in SA and have been long-term supporters of the industry.

Then in 2015 Greg (well actually, his very talented handyman Rodney) built a whole second floor dedicated to beer, and filled it with Afro Caribbean Brewing Co., now a multi-award-wining brewpub. Today about half the beers on tap downstairs come from the first-floor brewery, with the rest curated from the best local microbreweries (plus they often have Pilsner Urquell on tap). I wrote a heartfelt love letter to the Jam for the Flagship February website a couple of years back. Please give it a read – it’s a piece I’m pretty proud of.

With Bob Marley blaring from the speakers, Caribbean-inspired food on the menu and a cocktail menu that made Banana Jam famous long before Greg discovered there was more to beer than Castle Lite, the Jam is popular with more than just beer nerds. It is loved for its chilled vibes and outdoor drinking opportunities, although in winter the fire is roaring and when the rain pours, there’s no cosier place to be than ACBC with its tin roof amplifying the downpour.

If you live outside Cape Town and you haven’t visited, I strongly suggest you put it on your Cape Town wish list, particularly if you can coincide with some special occasion like SAN Beer Day, 420, IPA Day, Oktoberfest or indeed, Friday, when the garden fills up with people celebrating the weekend. And if you are based in Cape Town, I’ll see you there this afternoon for some Awesome Friday Beers.

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