This is the coast near Port Alfred. It’s beautiful. Recently I travelled there to write a story for school about the Wharf Street Brew Pub and the Little Brewery on the River, Port Alfred’s microbrew/brewpub combination. Situated right on the River Kowie, which runs through the town, the Brew Pub and Little Brewery stand within an old stone building that used to be Port Alfred’s old harbourmaster’s offices, as well as its town hall. It’s beautiful, rugged and full of history. I suggest you go visit it, should you ever find yourself along this beautiful piece of Eastern Cape coastline.
I would write more and post more photos about it here, but the story has been picked up by Getaway, and should be published early next year.
In the meantime, I’d like to review one of the Little Brewery on the River's beers. Originally I was hoping to review both of their beers, but seeing as they're only available in four small towns in the Eastern Cape's old Albany district – it's local microbrew in the truest sense of the phrase – getting hold of them is sometimes tricky. I was only able to get my hands on the delicious Kowie Gold Pilsner.
A lightly cloudy yellow-gold with a puffy white head, it looks the consummate pilsner. With wet grass and light spiciness on the nose, and a palate to match, it’s a refreshing springtime beer. And like a good pilsner, it finishes dry and slaking, managing an excellent balance between hoppiness, earthiness and tartness.
Brewed by Colin Coetzee, a 72-year-old ex-chief brewer of SAB, this is a beer that is well-conceptualised and made with a lot of love. Shirking the scientific rigours and industrial efficiency of his previous employers, Colin’s Little Brewery has an output of only 1000l a day, and every drop of it is obsessed over. It shows in both this beer and the Little Brewery’s other brew, the Coin Ale, a flavoursome brown ale with unexpected depth and sweetness.
So far their beers are available in only 24 locations throughout Port Alfred, Grahamstown, Kenton-on-Sea and Bathurst, but it’s well worth the fuss. The Brew Pub on Wharf Street in Port Alfred is also a winner.
Just one word of warning about the Little Brewery’s beers, however: some pubs in the region don’t store their kegs very well. The beer is unpasteurised and therefore spoils quicker and far more readily than commercial beers, and some bars in the area (I’m looking at you especially, Rat and Parrot) seem absolutely oblivious to this fact. Should your beer taste offish, tell the bar manager.
The Little Brewery on the River Kowie Gold Pilsner; 500ml draught; 4.5% a.b.v.
Pros: Yellow and summery; a consummate pilsner, with delicious light spiciness and tartness; a local specialty in the truest sense.
Cons: Away from Port Alfred, sometimes unavailable and incompetently stored by bars.