The votes have (finally) been tallied and the results are ready to announce. This is the fifth annual installment of the Brewmistress South African Beer Awards and there are four establishments that have made the honour roll for five years in a row – see if you can spot them among this year’s winners. Thanks as always for voting. Voter numbers were down in 2021, which I largely put down to me blogging considerably less this year and losing a few followers. Must do better in 2022… So here are all the winners and runners up for the 2021 Brewmistress South African Beer Awards:
This category focuses on breweries producing all-round excellent beer. This year’s winner was a newcomer to the scene, only opening at the start of 2021. It’s become an instant hit and it somehow feels like they’ve been around for ages.
WINNER: Starke Brews
2nd: Richmond Hill Brewing Co.
3rd: Devils Peak Beer Co.
Best destination brewery
This category takes everything into account – great beer, great food, a nice vibe. Just the sort of place you want to spend a whole Saturday. And Sunday. And probably Monday too…
WINNER: Aegir Project
2nd: Starke Brews
3rd: Mad Giant
Honourable mention: Paternoster Brewery
Best liquor store:
WINNER: Liquor City Groenkloof
2nd: Liquor City Claremont
3rd: Tops Radiokop
Best beer bar/restaurant
This year, it was a landslide for Capital Craft, with Banana Jam – one of the places that’s featured in the list every year since the awards began – taking the silver. It’s the first time Den Anker has made the list which is somewhat surprising considering their decades-long dedication to serving fine Belgian beers.
WINNER: Capital Craft
2nd: Banana Jam Cafe
3rd: Den Anker
Best festival or event
About a quarter of all respondents sadly admitted that they hadn’t been to any events in 2021, with some claiming that there weren’t any events to attend. But while festivals were thin on the ground, there were plenty of small scale launches and mini fests taking place. Shout out to the guy whose best event was “drinking homebrew with my mates by the pool” – I love it. But I had to wholeheartedly agree with the clear winner here, even if it wasn’t a fest that didn’t happen. And its organiser didn’t not vote for it…
WINNER: (Not) Fools & Fans
3rd: Benoni Beer & Gin Fest
Biggest beer story of the year
There hasn’t been as much big beer news this year due to fairly obvious reasons. A few people mentioned Heineken buying Distell, BrewDog announcing plans to open a brewery in South Africa and one person wrote “I heard that SAB bought Jack Black. Not sure if that is true. Can’t find any news about it…” (and generally, if you can’t find anything written on it, it’s because it didn’t happen). A few people shared news stories that were personal to them, my favourite being “I got married and had Mad Giant on Tap courtesy of Real on Tap” – big congrats Pieter!
It’s no great surprise that the pandemic was top of people’s minds when answering this question. Lots of people mentioned the various brewery closures this year, or mentioned lockdown and the associated bans. Happily though, more concentrated on the fact that the bans, for now at least, appear to have stopped, writing things like “That we are still able to buy beer (…at least when filling in this form)”. But the biggest – and best – story was that things didn’t end up being as bleak as we’d all imagined, summed up perfectly by Anna (no surname provided): “Just the fact that so many breweries have survived 2021.” And I think we can all raise a glass of our favourite to that.
Best beer branding
Probably no great surprise in this category – another win for a brewery that’s now even opened its own design company.
WINNER: The Kennel Brewery
2nd: Richmond Hill Brewing Co.
3rd: Devil’s Peak Beer Co.
Honourable mention: “Silver cans”…but let’s hope we won’t have to see any more of them next year.
Best new brewery
This was the only category where multiple options were given, and and a whopping 35% admitted they hadn’t tried anything from a new brewery in the past year. Time to set yourselves some 2022 goals good people! I was pleased to be able to include a dozen breweries on the list (although I admit I made a mistake – Barrington’s actually launched in 2020, not 2021).
WINNER: Starke Brews
2nd: The Cape Town Brewery
3rd: Jump Brewing
Doc Brown Award for outstanding innovation
WINNER: OC Brewery/Yeti Underground Movement
2nd: Mad Giant
3rd: Soul Barrel
Best new beer
WINNER: Richmond Hill Fever Dream
2nd: The Cape Town Brewery Dry Irish Nitro Stout
3rd: Devil’s Peak Lucy Goes South
Beer of the year
WINNER: Mohope Premium Lager
2nd: Afro Caribbean Space Llama
3rd: Devil’s Peak Juicy Lucy
Honourable mention: Jack Black Cape Pale Ale
Thanks again for following the blog, on the rare occasion I find time to write it these days. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the places that have made the list all five years are Aegir Project, Banana Jam, Devil’s Peak and Kennel. Keep up the good work in 2022 folks!
Want to read more? Check out the 2020 winners here.