The key to surviving Monday? A touch of denial, loads of caffeine and something exciting to look forward to – like ice-cold craft beer at the brand-spanking new Copperlake Brew Pub. Yes, I know it’s still early but if you think about it (really hard) beer is made out of wheat … so it’s like liquid cereal. Kind of. Byron, our guest blogger from Joburg.co.za, gives us the low-down on why everyone from beer-masters to beer-ginners should pop in for a pint!
If you’ve read my articles before then you’ll already know – I am obsessed with craft beer! I love it for all the complexities that aren’t found in your average mass produced beer. I love it because it took me on a journey of flavour, one I am still happily on. So you can imagine how excited I was to see that Copperlake had decided to open a brewpub, making them officially only the second brewpub in Jozi!
I heard about it through Facebook a few months back when owner Brendan excitedly announced it on his page. The announcement was greeted with cheers from all the fans and while it was at that stage a reality, it would be months before any of us would actually walk in to what can only be described as a temple of beer worship. This place is (for lack of a better word) insane!
Copperlake have never done things in half measures. If you’ve ever been to a beer festival you will immediately remember them from their refreshing take on marketing. They’ve always got that ‘buzz wire’ game set up which is almost impossible to beat but the winner is tempted by a massive prize (usually lots of beer) and they even had ripped guys walking around in pink bow ties at one point to promote their ‘pink drink’ which seems to have done well as it's still on the menu! Brendan seems set to bring some of the American craft beer flair to South Africa and few things illustrate that better than his opening of this epic brewpub!
Copperlake started out with only a few beers at festivals but their line-up has changed drastically over the years. I’ve always loved their Dark Lager and English Ale but I’m happy to see some new ‘crowd pleasers’ on the menu. Light Lager for example was a great addition and is sure to be a top seller. I got a chance to try their whole selection and here’s what I think.
There light lager is crispy and refreshing. It’s everything you’d expect from a classic light lager with a mellow malt backbone and only vague bittering. Lager fans should be impressed!
This is the first time I’ve tasted their premium lager and I’m impressed! This one carries far more malt flavour than the light lager and I’m a sucker for malty beers. This will go down with almost any meal and will almost certainly be their top seller. If there weren’t so many other good beers on the menu I could easily have a second pint of this!
The Copperlake Dark Lager has been on their menu since the beginning and for good reason. I remember seeing the faces of festival goers when they first noticed that it was a ‘dark lager’ but also how they immediately ordered a pint after tasting it. Lager was actually traditionally a dark and malty beer until light beer took the market. Brendan created a winner with this beer and I’m always first in line to get one at a festival.
Like their Dark Lager, the English Ale has also always been on the menu since the beginning, with its firm malt character and local hops giving it an almost earth and woody flavour which I just love! Fans of ale will go nuts for this beer, not to mention foodies who like their pairing. This beer and some Swiss gruyere make for a perfect afternoon snack.
Their IPA was another first for me because I don’t think I’ve actually tried it at any of the festivals but I was impressed. It takes the character of an American West Coast IPA although admittedly not too hoppy. Citrus and floral notes can be easily picked out, as well as a nice dollop of malt. I’m a fan of ‘different’ beers so I often gravitate towards the IPA’s.
Their Weiss is refreshing with a clean and almost spicy aftertaste. It ticks all the ‘weiss’ boxes so to speak and will go down well during these unforgiving hot summer days. I can also imagine it going down well with a lemonade as a mixer for those who are driving.
There are two spritzer type drinks on the menu at the moment, the one is actually seasonal so won’t be around for too much longer and the other a staple part of their offerings. I’m not big on these and can’t comment too deeply on the flavour profiles but suffice to say, I thought they were pretty tasty. They will likely be popular with anyone who’s not into beer.
The food menu is basic but has everything you would like to see at a brewpub with the likes of sticky ribs and a big, almost German style pretzel catching my eye. Another thing I have to mention is that they offer brewing as a team building experience or even for bachelor parties. So you and your guests can get involved and actually brew a beer which will later be bottled and sent on to you. This beer which you brew will also be featured on their 'seasonal' tap for others to enjoy. It's an amazing offering which I can see being very popular.
All in all I loved my time there, the staff are friendly, the beer spectacular and the venue an absolute tribute to the beer lovers of the world. Treat yourself (or a beer loving friend) to a day out you won't soon forget!
By Byron Marais
All photos by Byron Marais