The Devil made me brew it

Drink up: Devil’s Peak brews have distinctively delicious 
aromas and flavours. The expanded capacity of the brewery will see 22 000 litres of beer produced a month. (David Harrison)

Drink up: Devil’s Peak brews have distinctively delicious aromas and flavours. The expanded capacity of the brewery will see 22 000 litres of beer produced a month. (David Harrison)

Started more than a year and a half ago in Somerset West, Devil’s Peak is creating standout ales, including a fruity, extremely drinkable First Light Golden Ale and a citrussy ­Belgian-style Saison. Both are perfect for languid summer sipping.

The King’s Blockhouse Indian Pale Ale is especially quaffable: golden light brown with a fine white head, it demonstrates a wonderful balance between fruitiness and a medium-bitter hoppiness. The American Amarillo and Cascade hops send out a nose, ranging from floral to granadilla, that clings to the nostrils like tropical poppers.

The brewing company has just moved to Salt River, an area that appears to be gentrifying at a pace that is keeping up with other developments in neighbouring suburbs, including the nearby Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.

According to Devil’s Peak brewer JC Steyn, there are plans to open an onsite taproom and restaurant to go with the new equipment and expanded capacity, which will take the brewery’s output from present levels of 6 000 litres a month to about 22 000 litres a month.

When the Mail & Guardian visited the new brewery recently, it was all cheerfully beery: floors were being washed down, bags of imported German malt were piled high in a storage room, the shiny new fermenting tanks were sparkling in the afternoon sunlight and beer was being dry-hopped — a process that looks like one is putting green cat-food pellets into the beer, but adds to the distinctive fruit aroma and flavours that characterise Devil’s Peak’s brews.

'More space for creativity'
Steyn has been brewing at Devil’s Peak for about a year and has added the Saison to the original range of beers.
He took over from the original brewer, an American who has returned home.

When comparing his background in winemaking (almost 10 years) with brewing, Steyn says that “there is more space for creativity and ­individual artistic flair in making beer. ­Compared to winemaking, you’re a lot more guaranteed of the result at the end … But you can experiment almost weekly with beer, whereas winemaking is more of an annual exercise.”

Steyn, like many brewers, says the secret to his (great) ales is the “quality of your ingredients”.

“You get a lot more consistency in your beers if you are consistent in the ingredients you use … Our philosophy is about truth to material, as we say on our website.”

Steyn uses local and imported malts in his beer and says ingredients and electricity are the main costs in the operation.

He is planning to expand the Founders Series of beers, which includes the Saison, Indian Pale Ale, Golden Ale and Woodhead Amber Ale, by adding ales “that are either funky and quirkier beers, or more quaffable ones”. As an example, he has barrelled a Saison that he hopes to mature for about two years.

The Devil’s Peak Brewing Company is based at 95 Durham Avenue, Salt River, Cape Town. Contact: [email protected]

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist.His areas of interest include social justice; citizen mobilisation and state violence; protest; the constitution and the constitutional court and football. Read more from Niren Tolsi

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