Over the past few weeks, various members of the East Cape Tours team have been exploring the wonders that are wine and beer. Three staff members attended two wine tasting events held at The Boardwalk, and also celebrated National Beer Day with the local Dockside Brewery, while another visited the quaint town of Clarens – known for its delectable craft beers. Under the guise that they were gathering information for our up-and-coming beer and wine website, they set off to discover some new inspirational flavours.
Here is what they had to say about their adventures:
It’s been a rather busy few weeks for me and three colleagues, what with both First National Bank (FNB) and Spar’s Tops hosting two amazing wine-tastings at The Boardwalk, and Dockside Brewery throwing a National Beer Day celebration at their new premises. The FNB’s Wine Show was elegant and upscale, featuring over 150 different wines including those from Altydgedacht Wine Estate, Liepzig Winery, Ernie Els Wines and Keermont Vineyards. The show didn’t offer much in terms of entertainment, but the array of different wines was superb.
In comparison, the Tops Wine Show was all about fun and extravaganza. Their wine theatre featuring hourly shows – from magic performances to wine pairing – was as educational as it was entertaining, and the colourful stilt-walker with his balloon-animal-making skills was a great laugh. The Fogarty’s Bookshop pop-up stand was a fantastic addition (as they say, book club and wine club are two birds of a feather!), and the sushi, biltong and snack bars were a great relief for our wine-filled bellies.
But of course, no wine-show can be complete without a great selection of wines, and Tops really outdid themselves! With over 200 different wines, the show featured everything from whites, red and rosés to champagnes, gluhwein, port and even beer. Not only were the different brews delicious, but they were also extremely well-priced. J.C. Le Roux champagnes were going for a mere R80 a bottle, Pumphouse Port was only R90 a bottle, and bottles of wine were being sold for as little as R35. With those kinds of prices, you really can’t help but go home with a few crates!
All in all, both wine-shows were great fun, but Tops’ event stole the ‘show’ – quite literally – by more than a mile. They did a fantastic job at promoting South African wines that were both great value for money and also of world-class quality.
Moving along from wine, it was National Beer Day on Friday 5th of August so we decided to attend Dockside Brewery’s celebration at their new premises. Dockside is a quaint, exclusive brewery that specialises in extraordinary artisan beers on a very small scale, and was founded in only 2014. Their beers are inspired by traditional styles and comprise of a number of unique ales, including Belgian ale, pale ale, African IPA, oud bruin, autumn ale and session ale. We were intent on visiting the brewery because it’s one of three breweries visited during the Hop On Beer Route, a beer tour in Port Elizabeth which we have included in some of our South African beer routes. With our Beer Tour website being released next week (very exciting!), of course we had to see the brewery for ourselves.
Set in a basement with bare brick walls, a stack of wooden crates for a bar and a welcome sign saying “Well done – you found us!”, Dockside offers a truly raw and unique experience. The brewery is actually part of the bar, so the various brewing gear and equipment forms the larger part of the décor. Each Friday, they offer speciality beer cocktails – some of which are delicious, such as the peach and session ale cocktail; others are potent, like the rum and Belgian ale cocktail. We tried all of the cocktails and three different beers, and were bowled away by their delicious taste and unique, home-made flavours. Our top two favourites have to be the peach cocktail and Blood Sweat and Tears, their inaugural beer and a Belgian ale. With their shabby-chic, cosy atmosphere, delectable craft brews and an obvious love of beer, Dockside Brewery score an easy ten out of ten from East Cape Tours. We look forward to sending many guests their way in the near future!
After a great time of wine- and beer-tasting, we are super excited for the release of our Beer Tours website. Featuring a number of different beer routes around South Africa, East Cape Tours will soon be your one-stop-shop for any beer and wine holiday! Be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page for the BIG RELEASE coming up next week.
By Cassidy Pautz
Clarens – A Small Town with Big Beer
The first feeling you get upon driving into Clarens is a perfect sense of homeliness unmatched by many other small towns. Surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of both the Maloti and Red Mountain Range, and paired with the clean streets and friendly people, this little town is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life.
Not only does this picturesque town have a great variety of artistic and adventure activities, Clarens is also home to two small craft breweries – namely Highlanders Brew Co. and Clarens Brewery. Highlanders is situated just outside of Clarens and runs in conjunction with the Highlander Restaurant, situated right on the Town Square on the Clarens Art Route. Clarens Brewery is also located on the Town Square, not three minute’s walking distance from Highlanders. The brewery has a huge range of craft brews and ciders produced in-house, as well as some fantastic German-inspired delicacies. It’s a hip hangout that attracts multitudes of people, and with the large outdoor seating area they don’t have difficulty dealing with all of the crowds! The owners of the brewery are also the spearheads of the Clarens Beer Festival, as well as key players in the South African craft brew uprising, taking part in the building and shipping of custom brewing setups to multiple microbrewers across South Africa.
My overall experience in Clarens was a fantastic one, with so much to do and see in and around the town that you’ll definitely wish you had booked for a longer stay! I’m pleased to say that we’ve included Clarens in most of the beer routes that we offer, and I only hope that all of the guests we send there in the future enjoy their time as much as I enjoyed mine! Just remember to contact us about a stay in Clarens quite far in advance as it’s a popular holiday escape, especially over the weekends.
By Kaylin Brandt
After a lot of hard work doing ‘research’ for our upcoming site, the one thing we learnt is that South Africa is a fresh, unexplored hub for wine and beer. When thinking of these brews, the first places that come to mind are the likes of France, Napa Valley, Germany or England. One doesn’t typically consider South Africa – but that is about to change. With an up-and-coming craft beer scene that will soon rival the likes of Belgium’s vast beer culture, and a Winelands District (including Cape Town, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Tulbagh and more) that is producing some of the most exquisite and innovative wines, South Africa is a wine- and beer-lover’s paradise.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Facebook page for our big release of our Beer Route website.