It’s a few days late, but I figure you’ve all been busy eating your own weight in mince pies and braai meat and testing out various hangover remedies thanks to a little festive (over)indulgence. Or maybe I’m projecting. Either way, polls have closed, votes have been counted and the results are in.
This year there were 195 votes, but as in 2018 and 2017, I did discard some votes – there were a couple of duplicates and then the usual spoiled ballots – people who vote for their local brewery as best brewery, best liquor store, best branding, best beer, best motion picture in a foreign language… If the same answer is given across all categories, I consider it a null vote as that person isn’t really participating in the industry and giving people a fair shot.
For reference, 35% of the votes came from Cape Town and surrounds and another 35% from Gauteng. The rest were scattered around KZN, the Eastern Cape and apparently some place “where craft beer goes to die”…
There are a few new faces here and a couple of surprises – check out all the 2019 winners below:
Best Brewery (based on the beers)
1st: Aegir Project
2nd: X! Brewing
3rd: Mad Giant
Best destination brewery (food, taproom, beers, ambiance)
1st: Mad Giant
2nd: Aegir Project
3rd: At Hops End
Best newcomer (brewery opened in past year)
This was the only category where people were given options. A whopping 57.4% said they hadn’t tasted anything from a new brewery in the past 12 months. Of those that had, there was a very clear winner.
1st: Feral Brewing
2nd: Naked Face
3rd: Lunar Brew
Best liquor store
Of all the categories, this was the one with the clearest winner, holding onto the top spot for the second year in a row. There’s a lot to be said for a well-curated beer selection, all kept in the fridge…
1st: Biggest Little Beer Shop
2nd: Tops @ Spar Radiokop
3rd: Liquor City Claremont
Best beer bar/restaurant
It seems that nobody can challenge the crown in this category, with the Jam easily keeping hold of first place for the third year in a row. Give people a good range of beer with clean glasses, clean lines and regularly changing specials and you’re onto something good. It’s worth noting that a lot of people from Gauteng and KZN also voted for Banana Jam. Congrats to the Jam and belated birthday greetings for a restaurant that celebrated 20 years in the business earlier this year.
1st: Banana Jam Cafe
2nd: Craft Beer Library
Best beerfest or event
The Cape Town Festival of Beer was knocked off the top spot by a duo of small-town events with a big following thanks to their innovative range of beers and all round awesome vibe.
1st: Clarens Craft Beer Festival / Fools & Fans
3rd: Cape Town Festival of Beer
Best beer branding
Well done to Kennel – a deserving winner. Check out their latest can release – Wax on Wax Off IPA. Sexiest can to ever grace a South African fridge shelf.
1st: Kennel Brewery
2nd: Devil’s Peak
3rd: X! Brewing
Biggest beer story of the year
More than any other year, people struggled to think of a news story that stood out in 2019. As well as the stories mentioned below, people voted for the emergence of kveik yeasts, cannabis beer, the return of Pilsner Urquell and “what the says when you drink it and how you feel the next day”(??!?)…If you’re out of the loop on what’s happening in SA beer, sign up to the blog and/or subscribe to On Tap Magazine to keep up to date with all the openings, closures, trends and gossip!
1st: The domination of beer in cans
2nd: The rise of lite beer (or as one voter put it, “stupid fucking lite lager”)
The Doc Brown award for outstanding innovation
As well as the winners, I’d like to give a nod to “Tim” and the person that nominated him. I have no idea who Tim is, but the guy is apparently quite the innovator.
1st: Tiny Keg
2nd: Little Wolf
3rd: The Kennel Brewery / Mad Giant
Beer of the Year
As always a horrendous nightmare to tally up, with dozens of beers getting a solitary vote and most receiving no more than four or five. There were several beers vying for runner up, but one that clearly stole the show this year. Oh, and a shout out to the person who thought the question was more of an offer and responded “Sure”.
1st: Jack and the Giant (Mad Giant and Jack Black)
Runners up: Juicy Lucy (Devil’s Peak), Killer Hop (Mad Giant), Mega Ale (Jack Black), Phat Indian (X! Brewing), Urban Legend (Mad Giant)
This was a new category especially to mark the end of the decade – a decade that has seen South Africa go from having fewer than 20 breweries to more than 200. Voters were asked to nominate a person or company that has helped to transform the South African beer industry over the past ten years. There were many, many names put forward, but one very clear – and deserving winner, whatever you think of their recent move into the mainstream market.
1st: Devil’s Peak
2nd: Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela / Wolfgang Koedel
Honourable mentions: Ross McCulloch, Greg Casey
Thanks to everyone who voted and who has followed the blog throughout the year(s). I didn’t post as often as I would have liked in 2019 and I’m working on ways to remedy that in 2020.
Do you think the right people won? Want to send congrats or give a shout out to someone who didn’t make the top spots? Tell all in the comments section!