Traditionally, Christmas beers are dark, heavy, strong in alcohol and full of dried fruit and spice-like flavours – ideal for the snowy Northern Hemisphere Christmas of Bing Crosby songs and Tim Allen movies. But who wants a pint of liquid fruit cake when it's 35 degrees outside? We’ve selected five South African beers that are perfect for sipping under the Christmas sun. Buy them and raise a glass to Sir Bob, shivering under his grim, grey sky.
1. Darling Bone Crusher
This South African take on the classic Belgian witbier is packed with spicy notes from the orange peel and coriander added to the brew. Even at 6% ABV, it’s a hugely refreshing pint full of fizz and flavour. Witbier makes an awesome breakfast brew, a welcome drink (think of it like champagne) or an accompaniment to seafood. Try it out with boerewors too, to see how coriander in a beer pairs with coriander in a sausage.
Also try: Anvil Ale House White Anvil, Vedett White (imported), Celis White (imported)
2. Robson’s Fruit Beer
Even if you don’t think you’re a fruit beer kind of person, when the weather really heats up, a light, slightly sour, somewhat fruity beer can be just the thing to help keep you cool. Robson’s version is inspired by Belgian brews but uses varied local fruit depending on what’s in season. It’s an ideal afternoon beer that pairs well with a second glass of the same!
Also try: Honingklip Peach Lambic, Liefman’s Fruitesse (imported), Liefman’s Cuvee Brut (imported)
3. Devil’s Peak Silvertree Saison
The subtle, dry flavours of Silvertree make it a refreshing and moreish beer and despite its delicate nature, it pairs well with a variety of foods. Try it out with lighter braai fare, a cheese platter or softly spiced dishes, such as Cape Malay cuisine.
Also try: Anvil Ale House Saison, SMACK! Republic Maboneng Maverick
4. Drayman’s Emperor India Pale Ale
South Africa is beginning to embrace the IPA, just as beer geeks the world over have. Drayman’s version is a tame take on the English IPA – not too potent in the alcohol department and with a delicate dose of hops. It’s the ideal summer session beer, pairing perfectly with a five-day test match.
Also try: Boston Breweries IPA, Mitchell’s Bosun’s Bitter, Boar’s Head Best Bitter (Bridge Street Brewery)
5. Loxton Lager
Traditionally, Christmas beers are spiced, so it’s only right that a beer for the South African Christmas should be seasoned with a traditional South African herb. It’s a brave move putting a plant as pungent as buchu into the brew, but in the right doses, this medicinal bush can lend a freshness to the beer that is much appreciated in the Christmas heat.
Also try: Triggerfish Bonito Bombshell Buchu Blonde, Dog and Fig Boisterous Buchu
Article by Luce Corne