Sunday, 11 August 2013

Darling Brew Native Ale at the Chalkboard

Seems I was moved by the loggerhead turtle, the reptile to whom the folks at Darling Brew dedicate their Native Ale. I bought a 550ml bottle at the Chalkboard Cafe, the funky restaurant / bar attached to the Bioscope at the heart of the ever expanding Maboneng Precinct. Reminiscent of the Portland (that's the Oregon one) film scene with theaters offering second run and art house flicks,  pizza and top notch beer and wine. The Wine at the chalkboard leaves something to be desired--seems they rely largely on 'Bob's Your Uncle'--but it's nonetheless worth a try almost any night of the week.

The Chalkboard Bar
For the beer drinker, the chalkboard has five taps although only four were wet when I dropped by.  These included the Jack Black family and an old pioneer standby, Mitchell's Forester Lager. The fridge is stocked with plenty of bottles and the pizza ain't bad with a few inspired, movie themed offerings. Even if the bartenders might prefer a Black Label to anything they've got on draft, it's still a place to take out-of-towners who think Jozi is a giant shopping mall stretching from Rosebank north. As customers are self-conciously hip, come prepared to don (or tolerate) skinny jeans, oversized glasses and an unusual chapeau. If you do, you'll be welcome regardless of colour or creed.

Chalkboard Pizza Delivery with Hats

When the time came, I braced myself. I've had a few Darling Brew products before and always found their marketing more impressive than their beer. If nothing else they deserve credit for attracting a new generation of beer drinkers with their stylish labels and near ubiquity. If there's a South African joint serving micro-brews, it's better than even odds they're pouring Darling. 

The Native Ale filled the glass with a nice and somewhat surprising colour: brownish, almost mocha-y.  Although the bubbles formed a fine foam that stuck around for a while, carbonation was moderate and the bubbles smooth. Moving closer, the aroma hinted lager but a more extended snort revealed a bit of ultra-restrained hoppiness. When it finally reached my mouth, I was reminded of middling British bitters, the 'real ales' that were almost extinct before rebounding into gastropubs across the Isles. At four percent alcohol undergirding a mellow, easy drinking flavour, it seems the Darling brewers had both turtles and such ales in mind. This beer is unlikely to titillate experienced tipplers, but it offers training wheels for lager drinkers dabbling with something different. For those planning a long night out and have a few bucks to spend, this could also work as a session beer for the slightly hearty.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like umqombothi in a nice bottle to me :-) hehehehehehehehehehhehehehehehe