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Drink and learn: 5 great malty craft beers to get for your fridge

Winter is approaching and there’s never been a better time to dive into the darker side of beer.

by: Karl Tessendorf | 23 Apr 2018
friends toasting beer bottles

(Image: iStock)

ALSO READ: Beer School: The critical role barley plays in it's production.

These brews are all about the malt and what it brings to the flavour party. Let’s get tasting. 

Stellenbosch Brewing Company - Hoenderhok Bock
From humble brewing beginnings in an actual hok, to winning top honours at the National Beer Trophy Awards, Hoenderhok Bock is Stellie’s golden goose- I mean chicken. It’s a German-style maibock which is part of the bock beer family. It’s hazy amber in colour and packed with malty aromas and flavours of bread, biscuit, caramel, and toffee with some earthiness and spice. Traditionally, bock beers were brewed and matured over the winter months and released with the coming of spring. Luckily for us, Stellie’s makes this beauty all year so get sipping and embrace this malt bomb. 

Mad Giant - True Grit Amber Ale 
A couple of years ago, amber ales were everywhere. For whatever reason, they’ve dropped in popularity and it’s a real shame. They offer a balance of sweet caramel malt and punchy hops and I still love them. Mad Giant has been cranking out True Grit for years now and it’s definitely one of the best amber ales in the country. It’s rich amber in colour and uses a blend of six malts to create its signature taste. It’s a complex blend of sweet biscuit, caramel and honey that’s backed by zesty citrus hops. Mad Giant is arguably Jozi’s best brewery and if you haven’t been to their incredible spot yet then you’re missing out. 

Two glasses of amber ale on counter top

Woodstock Brewery - Mr Brownstone Hazelnut Brown Ale 
There’s only one seasonal brew that I wait in anticipation for every year and his name is Mr Brownstone. I’ve loved this beer since its first release a few years ago and it’s gotten more refined with age. Roasted malt has an inherent nuttiness and when this brown ale is spiked with hazelnut extract the results are sublime. It’s bursting with hazelnut, chocolate and roasted malt flavours with a short snappy bitterness to round out the richness. Some people say it’s a dessert beer but I’m happy to drink it anywhere, anytime. Don’t wait too long before getting your hands on one or ten of these because they won’t be around forever. 

Drifter Brewing Company – The Stormy Smoked Porter 

Drifter is an adventurous bunch of scallywags and this smoked porter is the latest addition to their core line up. It uses beechwood smoked malt to give it a robust smokey character which some say adds a bacon-like quality, hmmm… bacon. It’s also packed with coffee and dark chocolate flavours from its roasted malt bill. Smoked beers are not all that common in South Africa so if you see this one, give it a try. If you really want to amp up the tasting experience then pair it with some braaied crispy bacon.

smoked porter beer with pieces of biltong as snack

Beer Country & Fraser’s Folly Colab - Moerkoffie Condensed Milk Stout

Last but certainly not least on this dark beer adventure has to be my favourite stout in the country, Moerkoffie. Okay yes fine, I have a vested interest in this stout because I am part of the colab that made it happen, but the beer speaks for itself. What started as a ‘what if’ conversation a few years ago has turned into a labour of love. It took gold at the National Beer Trophy and silver at the Cape Town Fest of Beer and we couldn’t be more proud of it. It’s an English-style stout that’s bursting with chocolate malt character, loaded with great coffee and dosed with condensed milk extract to give it a subtle vanilla aroma. The result is a smooth vanilla and coffee slip ‘n slide into a dark chocolate jacuzzi.   

Karl Tessendorf is one part of the duo that hosts 'Beer Country', South Africa's first TV show dedicated to beer, braai and the open road.


Drink and learn: 6 great beers to try if you like that hoppy taste

(Image: iStock) I'm not saying that this is the be all and end all of the hoppy beer lists, but it's a pretty damn tasty line-up. Let's dive in. Mad Giant - Killer Hop Pale Ale Mad Giant has made a name for themselves with big ol' beers that are packed with flavour.

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