Monday, 18 November 2013

Triggerfish is Dyn-O-Mite

Road tripping from Plett to Cape Town in one day may not be the best idea if you plan to get to Triggerfish Brewing its 7 pm closing time. That the brewery is deep in a re-purposed industrial settlement (it was once a dynamite factory) didn't help us get there any quicker. Set at the back end of Somerset West, we were pleased to arrive but disappointed we wouldn't have more time to taste their fifteen or so offerings. Given the time at hand, we picked the three IPAs they had tap. Their better known and locally distributed Hammerhead, the Titan imperial IPA and the MayStay.

An Embarrassment of Riches
All were rich, bronzed gold with the kind of light carbonation one expects in a fine crafty draft. We decided to start in with the Hammerhead which proved considerably less hopped than expected. It presented a caramelly maltiness that hungover the lighter hop bitternesss with only faint floral, pine and citrus on this nose. Perfectly drinkable, well made if not balanced as we might have preferred but that is personal preference and not much else. By the end of glass I was tasting a bit more hop profile but it was only poking its head shyly shyly out from behind the malt.

Next was the MayStay IPA, a beer with a less malty profile. Alas, it didn't make up for it with strong hoppiness. Again, a fine and well appreciated beer but not one that will be remembered long after we leave.

The Titan Imperial IPA was the real winner here. Served in a 350ml glass it shouted piney hoppiness but in a polite and mannerly way. From the start it showed off all the malt vs hops balance one expects and desires from a double IPA with only the faintest hint of extra sweetness. A dangerous weapon for those who had lunched early in the day and were surviving on a Wimpy milkshake bought in Riviersdale many hours back. We learned later that this is one of the few single hopped beers being made in South Africa. Highly recommended.
The Perfectly Balanced Titan
As we packed up and paid, we met the brewer who took us back to taste the Russian imperial stout aged in an old oak wine barrel he's calling the Oaked Black Marlin. A challenging beer with its sour richness but it was undeniably complex and intriguing. He then tapped the Kraken, a beer not yet for sale anywhere. Named after a sea monster, it was made with the land's bounty: bushels of hops and home roasted malt. Incredible balanced but flavoured to the max, front, right and center with almost a Christmas tree and spicey taste. The brewer claimed it had 1054 IBUs, a hundred times more than any other SA beer. I don't know if such a thing is possible--and if it were if it would be drinkable--but it was delicious.  At 11.5 percent alcohol, one has to be careful, especially since that taste is hidden behind the massive flavours.

Lesson learned. Leave plenty of time to savour the beer and wander around the duney fields. Sip, look at the mountains and savor some of the best of what the Cape can offer. I wouldn't yet move here from Joburg, but if I did, I might consider a place with ready access to Triggerfish. If there's a distribution company reading this, we want a CT-Jozi pipeline ASAP.
The Man Behind It All

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