Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Designated driver needed on this sipping safari


This has to start with disclosure: I have been known to be quite happy to quench my thirst with several pints of Carling Black Label. I have also been known to gasp in dismay at the prices charged for those craft beers with the self-consciously cute names. And I have been known to express the opinion that the cult of craft beer is the preserve of hipsters with beards, shaven heads and tattoos who use these pricey beverages to wash down equally pricey meals made from artisanal ingredients bought at those irritating urban markets.

But if Lucy Corne, undoubtedly a master of her craft, can’t convert the doubters into avid consumers of prohibitively expensive beer then nobody can. She has produced a comprehensive province-by-province guide to the ever-growing list of South African brewers. And, judging by the photos that accompany the stories about each brewer, the people who make these beers are definitely not hipsters. They are mostly ordinary blokes in shorts and T-shirts (there are a few women here and there) who are producing some extraordinary beer.

But if pictures of the creative types who produce the extremely arty labels for the bottles were included then beards and skinny jeans would probably be the dress code.

Many of the breweries offer tours and tastings from their beer menu. It is a relief to see that in her guide to tasting beer Corne reassures us that it is fine to swallow. “Beer tasters do not spit, since the aftertaste, or finish, is an important part of beer tasting.”

It is details like this that make the book so useful for beer heathens.

There are also useful explanations about how beer is made, the ingredients, the flavours of beer and the difference between lager and ale. There are lists of bars of restaurants in each province where craft beers are sold and lists of liquor stores will point you in the right direction.

For the ale anoraks, there is a nifty little icon on the pages of breweries that can be visited, with a space for the date when the brewer was “spotted” and a signature. There is also a “Big 5 pints” list that the dedicated drinker really should tick off to make the safari successful.

Throughout the book the dedication, hard work and costs involved in crafting these beers is clear. So paying a higher price for these offerings that are superior to anything the big breweries offer is definitely worthwhile. If I wasn’t a poorly paid print journalist, I would offer to buy the next round.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Soweto teacher dismissed for the alleged repeated rape of a...

The learner was 13 when the alleged rapes started, and they continued for two years until she asked to be moved to another school

First-of-its-kind rangeland atlas pushes for protection

Rangelands are ‘nature’s gift to humanity’, but have been overlooked, neglected

More top stories

Court refused murder-acused Kilian’s application for particulars, bail dates are...

Zane Kilian has been denied further information into the charges against him, which include murder, unlawful interception of communications and fraud

Soweto teacher dismissed for the alleged repeated rape of a...

The learner was 13 when the alleged rapes started, and they continued for two years until she asked to be moved to another school

MKMVA accuse top six of being factional in collapsed meeting

A defiant MKMVA has vowed it is business as usual, after a meeting with the top six ended with the military veterans being kicked out of the virtual platform

Gumede graft trial likely to begin only in July next...

The state has added racketeering to the charges faced by the former eThekwini mayor and 21 others, but logistics are likely to delay their trial until mid-2022

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…