Push the boat out by Devil's Peak
A glimpse of the South African craft beer scene. Brewed in Aberdeen.
There’s a long history of beer in South Africa. It’s just unfortunate that, for quite some time, it was dominated by a host of macro breweries with little or no signs of a craft beer scene. Until recently that is.
Enter stage left a crop of fresh new breweries like Cape Town’s Devil’s Peak Brewing Co. They’ve been set on transforming the beer people drink in South Africa (and beyond).
We asked Mitch Lockhart, one of the people behind Devil’s Peak and the craft beer renaissance in South Africa, to give us a bit of backstory.
“In March of 2012, after two years of business case development, recipe development, garage brewing, government applications, and acquiring the right talent, Devil’s Peak Brewing Company was ready to show South Africa what it was capable of. [Even] the name of our brewery was chosen to firmly root the brand in Cape Town. Devil’s Peak is a geological landmark steeped in myth. It has a strong authenticity and sense of place. It is iconic in the minds of all those who have come to experience it, which is what we strive for.”
The first beers to roll out of the brewery and pour into local glassware was their First Light Golden Ale and King’s Blockhouse IPA along with a “now retired” amber ale and a saison. These were followed by a lager, a pale ale (of course), as well as an alcohol-free pale ale, called Zero to Hero. That a non-alcohol beer can feature so prominently in their year-round range hints at the size of the drink-drive problem in South Africa and how a responsible brewery might respond to it.
It’s been quite the success story too. The growth of Devil’s Peak has been pretty rapid as they quickly outgrew their original space and moved to a state of the art brewing facility in nearby Epping and retaining the original brewhouse as a restaurant and taproom.
So how big are Devil’s Peak?
“Our brewery in Epping is around 6500 square metres. Quite the jump from our previous 700 square metre brewery at the foot of Devil’s Peak in Cape Town’s City Bowl. And from the early days of just a handful of full-time employees, we now have a team of almost 100!”
Crikey. All this growth has also afforded them the opportunity to play with some really progressive beer styles. This includes their Afrofunk Sour and Wilds facility, a dedicated, in-house barrel ageing programme at the Epping site as weak as an Explorer Series and ever-growing list of international collabs.
Devil’s Peak really is set on shaping beer tastes in South Africa.
Then, in 2017, they made the unusual announcement that they would be bringing their beers into Europe, specifically the UK. Only not by shipping them halfway around the world, but by opening a brewery here in the UK.
This announcement was the culmination of over two years of research and hard work to turn the decision into reality. They finally landed on a partner in the form of Aberdeen’s Fierce Beer. There was something of a courtship process in the form of a few collaboration beers followed by an agreement to contract brew with them at their home in Aberdeen. Being fellow new kids on the block (relatively) and sharing the same passion for making different beers. It was a match made in heaven.
It wasn’t just a case of remaking their South African beers only over here in the UK. Tastes in both countries are different and more nuanced than we might be led to think. So it’s less of a move, more of a reincarnation. “Same soul in a new body.” as Mitch puts it.
Which brings us on to this week’s beer. One of the first two beers brewed over here in the UK.
“Push the Boat Out! This is our dry hopped sour pale ale. We like to say we’re embracing the best of both worlds with this one. Full yet fresh - hoppy yet sour. And in case you’re wondering, we’ve thrown in Mosaic, Yellow Sub and Simcoe hops. Expect delicious complexity and a beer that will leave you wanting more. It’s one of JC’s (our head brewer) favourites!”
Hoppy yet sour. Sour yet hoppy? You can decide.