Words and pictures: Tony Lopes
Alone in Joburg over the festive season (someone has to work), Tony Lopes decided to go on a Magaliesberg beer adventure. Here’s his pick of which breweries to visit, beers to taste as well as fun facts you’ll soon be impressing your friends with.
A Magaliesberg Beer Adventure
I found myself deserted in Johannesburg – this year it was my lot to work while my family relaxed in Hermanus.
With all kith and kin long gone, and those remaining wrapped up with Christmas shopping and family lunches, I decided I needed to get out of the house before I collapsed from cabin fever.
The Magaliesberg has long been the go-to destination for a quick Sunday drive out of Joburg. I’d been there many a time before – the delicious cheeses of van GaalenKaasmakerij and the fresh bread from Tan Malie se Winkel have delighted my taste buds more than once.
Find out more:
Tan Malie se Winkel
Today my palate sought something singular and fit for a solo drive in the countryside: a fine beer.
A quick Google search revealed at least three possible sources of fine beer:
• Black Horse Brewery
• Gilroy’s Brewery
• Brauhaus am Damm
Why not all three?! I thought gleefully and I scrawled their locations into my travel diary. I set off with abandon, heading into the general direction of Harties, radio blasting at ear-bleeding volumes only a man alone in a car can enjoy. I had only a general idea of where I was going but I had hours to spare and today was a day for exploring – and beer.
The Black Horse Brewery
The Black Horse Brewery was PACKED! Every table, nook, cranny and bar stool was occupied. Staff ran around with plates of food, trays of lagers and beer tasting paddles. I wandered down to the terraced gardens, looked out onto the magnificent Zeekoeihoek Valley and then made my way past the swimming pool to the Brewery.
Large steel brewing vats dominated the hall, and a well-stocked bar promised great reward after my journey. I found a table and a harried waiter dropped off a menu.
The Black Horse is a craft brewery and distillery with a family friendly restaurant (no pets are allowed). You will find resident dogs, cats, horses and even chickens abound though.
I studied the beer menu and decided on the Irish Red Ale, very well priced at R35 for a pint. It arrived promptly and I took a deep draught. I found the reddish brown ale to be to creamy, nutty and smooth. Absolutely delicious and well worth the drive.
Inspired, I asked the hostess if I could buy a Black Horse beer glass, and she pointed me in the direction of the gift shop. With my wrapped trophy under my arm I headed back to the car.
Gilroy Pub and Restaurant
I drove along the R114 and came to Ngwenya Village. The Village is home to the Shades of Ngwenya glass blowing factory, a number of art studios but most importantly for my purposes, the very lively and renowned Gilroy Pub and Restaurant.
This fine Irish establishment is legendary for its delicious ales and exuberant atmosphere. I settled in behind the bar and ordered the Serious Dark Ale.
Did you know? Gilroy’s is mentioned in Jeffery Deaver’s James Bond novel ‘Carte Blanche’. 007 finds himself in Cape Town’s Table Mountain Hotel and orders the Serious Dark Ale. A fine choice, Mr Bond.
Gilroy’s also brews:
• Gilroy Traditional: a Red Irish ale
• Gilroy Favourite: the Pale Ale
• Gilroy Lager: a European-type lager
Steve Gilroy, the driving force behind this establishment, is an entertaining character and leads the Gilroy Beer Experience on Saturdays at 11:00. Visitors will learn about the beer making process and some of the legendary stories and secrets behind the art of brewing. This experience is definitely adults only – the language is as strong as the ale!
My stomach was growling at me so I scanned through the menu which offers an excellent variety of traditional pub fare. Perfect. I ordered Irish Pub Style Potato Skins and noticed a bachelor’s party in full swing at the beer garden, which was jam-packed.
Gilroy’s has live music on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you’re looking for a good party with your friends, this is definitely the place.
The Gilroy Salute
This fine tradition involves ordering a beer by raising the middle finger of the RIGHT hand (known as DEXTER) and saying “Another fine Gilroy ale please”. If you’re ordering two beers raise TWO hands, middle fingers extended.
Looking for a fight? Extend the middle finger of the LEFT hand only – this is known as SINISTER. The Gilroy Salute came about as a friendly challenge to other brewers to try and make a better beer, and today it is part of the Gilroy’s experience.
It was time to head on to my next destination – Rustenberg.
Brauhaus am Damm
Brauhaus is a hop, skip and a drive away from Johannesburg, situated in the beautiful Magaliesberg near Rustenberg.
If you’re looking for all things German, you couldn’t ask for better. Brauhaus is a microbrewery and family restaurant with a long tradition of upholding the Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law) of 1516. This Bavarian law ensures only the best natural ingredients are used in the making of beer – barley, hops and water.
The beers on offer include:
• Brauhaus Pils: honey coloured with a hint of apricot, not too bitter
• Farmer’s Draught: a light blonde with a crisp finish
• Brauhaus Dunkel: rich, dark and pleasantly bitter with coffee, caramel and malt flavours
• Brauhaus Weizen: the wheat beer with hints of banana and cloves, a really good Weiss
I ordered the delicious Farmer’s Draught and it really tasted like more! If I wasn’t driving solo I would definitely give the others a go too, but on to the menu…
Excellent traditional German cuisine
The menu at the Brauhaus restaurant offers truly authentic German fare, with everything you would expect including eisbein, spätzle, schnitzel, pork belly and a variety of wursts.
I would DEFINITELY have to come back for date night or with some friends for a truly German dinner experience.
And then there are the cakes and the desserts. One word: apfelstrudel…
Sadly, it was time to head back to Johannesburg so I finished my beer, walked outside and stared happily at the Magaliesberg as the sun dropped low in a stunning display of orange and red.
Sundays don’t get better than this.
Other Magaliesberg Breweries
On my journey through the Magaliesberg I spotted a number of signs for breweries I have to go to soon.
I definitely want to investigate the White Dog Taproom presented by Mogallywood Brewery with its excellent craft beer, golf driving range and great food. Maybe a morning drive for the breakfast pizza pie?
Also on the list is Chameleon Brewery known as the home of perfect local Weiss Beer. Owned and managed by Ruaan and Amanda van den Berg, this has got to be one of the destinations for any fan of fine beer.
And then off to the Irish Ale House, a rustic brew pub in Broederstroom, where Dirk van Tonder brews beer with names like Trailer Trash Blond and offers fresh, hot pizza.
Then there’s the Chameleon Brewhouse, the Lazy Lizard Brewhouse and the Bru House & Diner. So much beer and so little time! I suppose that’s what weekends are for…
What would I do differently next time?
• Bring along friends (someone else can drive!)
• Order the beer tasting paddle from Black Horse
• Leave more space for dessert at Brauhaus
• Be brave and use the Gilroy Salute
• Start early and come home late
Found other breweries you’d recommend in the Magaliesberg area?
Take a road trip this weekend and let us know what your favourite Magaliesberg breweries are by sharing your story on our Facebook page.
Black Horse Restaurant
32 Zeekoeihoek Road
Phone number: 082 453 5295
Email address: [email protected]
M34 Shady Lane
Ngwenya Glass Village
Phone number: 011 796 3020
Brauhaus am Damm
R24 between Rustenburg and Johannesburg
Phone number: 014 004 0382