It’s been a whole two weeks since I pledged to blog more and to post a Friday Beers suggestion every week of the year. On the first part, I think I’m doing fairly well: 21 days into the year and six posts written. On the second part am about to fail, but only slightly.
See, the Friday Beers piece is meant to give ideas on where to head straight from work; where to kick off your weekend. So those posts will generally be in or near SA’s larger cities. But there are lots of breweries that deserve your beer bucks but that are rather a long drive for a quick after-office pint on a Friday afternoon. And so, as Januworry comes to an end and payday is almost within reach, I am swapping out Friday Beers this week and instead offering a suggestion for a Beery Weekend Away.
Whale Coast Brewing Company is one of the newest breweries in South Africa. It actually opened in April last year, although if you don’t live in the area, you might have missed it. The area in question is Pearly Beach, deep, deep in the Overberg. It’s very possible you’ve never actually heard of Pearly Beach. I’m a travel writer (well, I used to be, back in the days when international travel was a thing) and I had to double check on Google Maps. Turns out I was there nine or 10 years ago on a multi-day hiking trip along the coast, so it seemed about time for a fresh visit.
Whale Coast is a family-run brewpub set back from the beach itself. The idea to open a microbrewery occurred to co-founder Stavros Pastellides back in 2017 and after a local fact-finding mission, the equipment was ordered and shipped from China. And that’s where things halted, thanks to a three-year wait for the lliquor licence. But as happened to many a bored entrepreneur, lockdown actually brought something positive to Stavros and his co-founders and while cooped up at home they began to tinker around with the system, working out what went where. It’s a bit like what I did during lockdown, except I was building beer festivals out of Lego, rather than a fully functioning brewery. So not at all similar then.
And fully functioning it is. Since the launch, the recipes have been practiced and perfected, with two of Whale Coast’s beers – the weiss and oatmeal stout – winning silver medals at the 2021 SA National Beer Trophy. The standout though is the new IPA – a first attempt by Stavros. We went through pints of the stuff – clear, bitter and brimming with citrusy hop character – as we chatted about beer and munched our way through the food menu.
There are excellent pizzas, fall-off-the-bone ribs, huge salads, juicy burgers and super fancy milkshakes for kids (or adults – you do you) made by Jody Maarman, Stavros’ right-hand man in the the brewery. In need of a job, Jody took a leap of faith and moved from Nieu Bethesda with no brewing experience, but you can tell he’s rapidly developing both passion and knowledge for beer. Behind the bar you’ll find Stavros’ partner in business and life, Kayla le Roux who pours perfect pints of nitro stout if you eventually move on from the IPA.
See and do
There’s not a whole lot else going on in Pearly Beach, other than of course, a pretty, windswept coastline. But there’s plenty of well-priced accommodation – and you will want to make a weekend of it. If you’re coming from Cape Town, it’s a 2½ hour drive – not exactly a there-and-back-in-a-day adventure.
There are plenty of places to stop along the route as well. We stopped for lunch and beers at Honingklip Brewery in Bot River. Their saison, witbier and tripel are all highly recommended and the wood fired pizzas are excellent. Also along the way are The Brewery at Hemel-en-Aarde (open daily for food and beer), Hermanus Brewing Company (whose beer garden serves cold pints of Old Harbour Lager on Friday afternoons) and the old stalwart, Birkenhead, just outside the pretty town of Stanford.
To make a full weekend of it, head to Whale Coast straight after work on Friday and have your Friday Beers there, albeit a little later than usual. Then after spending the evening at the brewery and the night in Pearly Beach, head to Folk & Goode Brewing Co on the Black Oystercatcher farm near Bredasdorp. There’s accommodation on the premises but be sure to book ahead to secure one of the little cottages.
There’s probably even some non-beer-related stuff to do in the area if you’re that way inclined, but let’s be honest, that not what you come to this blog for…
Whale Coast Brewing Company is open Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner; Sunday for lunch only. Well, and beers of course.