Saturday, 31 August 2013

Devil's Peak Woodhead & First Light at House of Baobab

Wandered down to the Maboneng Precinct in hope of a late night meal (9pm, late for Joburg forty somethings). As we meandered between Arts On Main and The Bioscope, we stumbled in to the the Afro-chic House of Baobab keen to taste something beyond the braai and pizza scene. Run by Tala, a Senegalese who's made his name peddling African crafts at the Rosebank Craft Market, his new gig sees him selling West African culinary classics - fish, veggies, lamb or beef in peanut sauce or yassa, plantains, and curries of various varieties. While the food and music have obvious appeal, the restaurant's Muslim roots mean the menu leans more to bisap than beer. But in good West African fashion, everything is possible; there's always space to make a plan. While we waited for our food to come, I ducked around the corner to The Chalkboard and came back with a couple of Devil's Peak bottles in my coat pocket.

House of Baobab food photographed by an uncredited professional
After Tala produced miniature beer steins from a hidden corner of the kitchen, we filled them with the Woodhead Amber Ale. A self proclaimed American style brew, they delivered on their promise. Without the head banging bitterness of their class leading Blockhouse IPA, there was undeniable hop aroma from the second we cracked open the bottle. The nose was full of complex richness that was buoyed by a rich warm colour and flavourful malty sweetness that counter balanced the hoppy flora. Together with the IPA, these are the standards by which South African craft beer should be judged.

Second for the night was the considerably less startling First Light Golden Ale. Far less a statement than their other beers, this is nonetheless a worthy alternative to the lagers that still fill 95 percent or more of the Mzansi drinking space. It was light and crisp without losing the embrace of malt and muted hops. If you've been drinking Amstel or Pilsner Urquell, take the next step and grab one of these. If you're already down the rabbit hole, then stick with the Woodhead and Blockhouse bounty.

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