That’s right, SMACK! is getting bigger! We’ve taken a few bold steps to be able to brew you more anarchistic ales.
It’s been quite a ride in the (almost) 4 years since we launched in March 2013. From the Bree Street Belle Golden Ale taking home the prize for the best beer from a new microbrewery at the inaugural SA Craft Beer Champs in 2013, to our Newtown Nemesis being named as a top 10 beer in SA in 2015, we’ve been diligently pumping out beer from our relatively small (but awesome!) German brewing system. Brewing on a small scale is hard work, and we decided that it’s time to upscale!
From our launch until now, our hole-in-the-wall brewery has been based in the Arts on Main building in the Maboneng precinct, where a lot of you have no doubt sampled our wares on Sundays at Market on Main. This location has been a truly epic base for us, being slap bang in the city we love, allowing us to serve our hoppy offerings to the thousands of patrons who have walked through our doors. Sadly, we had to come to terms with the fact that we outgrew our inner city location and, sniff sniff, the time arrived to bid Arts on Main goodbye…
What does this mean?
In order to upscale we are relocating to an industrial location as we begin our expansion. Space is all important which is why we are venturing outside our beloved CBD. We will update you on the details as we manage this transition.
Our current space at Arts on Main officially closed its doors at the end of November. Sundays at Market on Main will never be the same. It’s sad, yes, but at the same time exciting…
Think of us as your teenage child that’s about to leave home for university. Our bags are packed, we are full of nervous energy, the world awaits…
Beer pairs insanely well with food. In fact, considering the plethora (whoa…big word!) of different beer styles out there, the opportunities are endless!
The awesome Beerhouse Fourways hosted us on Monday 8th Dec for their biggest ever Meet the Brewers event. We brought along 6 of our finest brews, which were carefully paired with 6 delish gourmet dishes by Roy, their Executive Chef. It was a great night where we got to tell everyone why they need a bit of a SMACK! in their lives. In front of 50 hop headed food-and-beer lovers, we got to discuss each beer in detail, including how we brew it, and why we love it.
We ended the evening by giving all of the attendees a piece of paper which read “SMACK! beer makes me…”. Everyone filled out exactly what SMACK! beer makes them feel / do / want / need… As you can imagine, after a few beers already in the bellies, the responses ranged from hilarious to just plain weird! We selected the top 3 who each took home a sick SMACK! cap as a prize. We also gave away a SMACK! shirt to the top tweeter of the evening. *high fives all round*
Check out some of the responses below. We’re happy to say that most of the hop heads in attendance are as mental as we are!!
So 7th August has been dedicated the title of international India Pale Ale Day, or IPA Day. Prominent craft beer folk in the US wanted to dedicate a day to arguably the most influential style of craft beer which has helped shape the craft beer revolution in the last 25 years, and so bingo! IPA Day was born.
But why the hype around the IPA, and why dedicate a day to this one style of beer?
The IPA represents all that is good with craft beer and the craft beer movement. In simple terms, an IPA is about as polar opposite from a bland lager as you can possibly get. It is a beer style that has a lot of depth. A complex malt backbone is complemented by equally complex hop profiles, providing a beer that delights in both flavour and aroma. The high hopping rates provide a beer that is normally more bitter than standard pale ales, and the intense aromas you can experience are typically fruity to earthy, depending on the variation of the beer. It is a beer style with complexity and punch that is difficult to match.
If you are new to the craft beer scene, your initial forays into the world of IPAs may be a little daunting, as the maltiness, bitterness and intense aromas can be somewhat overwhelming. However, sooner rather than later, the appreciation towards this style grows, and before you know it your love of hops comes to the fore and another IPA-loving-hophead is born!
But why is it called an India Pale Ale? Where did it come from? Is this Indian beer?
We are often asked these questions in the brewery. There has been a lot written on the origin of the IPA in recent times, and it appears to be a subject that most beer historians can never agree on! The IPA is a style that evolved in England in the 19th century, when beers were brewed for export to colonial India. The beers were generally very highly hopped and had a higher alcohol content, which helped the beer survive the voyage by ship to India (as hops and alcohol are natural preservatives). The beer had to endure a 3 month journey in wooden cask barrels, so a lot could go wrong! It is also understood that ‘paler’ beers were preferred in the hot Indian climate, as opposed to porters and stouts which were the popular styles of beer in England during that period.
So that, in a nutshell, illuminates the hype around one of our favourite beer styles, the India Pale Ale. And what better way to celebrate the craft beer revolution than to crack open a nice bitter IPA on IPA Day!
Jozi’s second IPA Day celebration is happening at SMACK! headquarters at Arts on Main this Thursday 7th August. We look forward to seeing you hopheads there!
We despise winter. It’s awful. The bitter cold, the wind, the short days – AWFUL. The only little glimmer of light at the end of a rather gloomy tunnel is that winter lends itself to dark beer. Rich, creamy, chocolatey, dark beer. Every cloud has a silver lining as they say.
So we at SMACK! thought it appropriate to release a seasonal beer to help us through this. On the taps from this weekend we will be serving a Vanilla-and-Bourbon-infused Milk Stout. This is a sweet stout which is perfect to warm you up and make you forget about the chills.
Why is it called a Milk Stout? Well quite simply the unique ingredient in a Milk Stout is lactose sugar which is added to the brew. Lactose sugar (which is derived from milk) is added to the stout brew, and voilà – a Milk Stout is born.
The adjuncts that we have added to this brew are Vanilla pods which have been soaked in Bourbon for two weeks, before they are added in secondary fermentation. The flavours complement the sweetness of the stout very well, and provide added complexity to the aroma and flavours already present.
So all you lactose tolerant people get down to the brewery and have a pint with us!
So it’s been a year since SMACK! launched…woohoo! Well actually at the time of writing this post it’s been 1 year, 2 months, 16 days and some change…
We launched on Sunday 10th March 2013, which seems like an eternity ago. And you might ask why we let the official one year anniversary go quietly by in March 2014? Well, in simple terms, we’ve been too damn busy!
It’s been a crazy, exciting, (sometimes) stressful, and an all-round insane year. Brewing, especially on our nano scale, is hard manual labour and we are faced with unique challenges daily that require a brewery ‘think-tank’ session to solve.
When we started out last year, we did so with no rigid goals in terms of sales forecasts and production. We knew that craft beer growth was taking off in Jozi, but we had no idea to what extent! To say that we have been overwhelmed by the interest in our brewery and beer is an understatement. The people of Jozi want beer – that is for sure. But it’s deeper than that. They want to know more than just the style of beer they are drinking. They want to know how the beer is made, how the different ingredients contribute to a different characteristics of the beer, and they want to taste the beer, really taste it, appreciate it, and absorb it. And this makes our little hearts flutter with joy.
When we (there are 3 of us – Grant, Andrew and David) first came up with the whack idea to open a craft brewery, we wanted to educate the beer drinking public, open their eyes, and enlighten them on the world of beer and brewing. We still have goose bumps when we think back to 2012, when we pitched the idea of a brewery to the head honchos of Maboneng. Our first SMACK! beer tasting was on thestreets of Maboneng outside Uncle Merv’s diner, armed with a cooler box of our beer and some beer glasses.
After our launch, the three of us operated the brewery for six months while all having full time day jobs. This was particularly challenging as our routine involved meeting after work at about 6pm and brewing, kegging, bottling, cleaning until about 2am in the morning, then heading home to get 3 to 4 hours sleep before work started. This required some pretty amazing wives and girlfriends to support (and put up with..!) us during those hectic months. In September 2013, Andrew started fulltime and our little brewery started contributing to the economy! We are also proud to also have on-board Mandla, our brewing assistant, and Ntombi, who keeps our brewery looking spick and span.
So we have decided to pick out the highlights from our first year-in-beer. It’s hard to pick a top 10 as there have been so many, but here goes (in no particular order):
1. 10th March 2013, the brewery launch! 18 months of planning culminated in an awesome launch party…so much so that our patrons literally drank us dry! Check out some pics here.
2. Jozi Craft Beer Fest 2013! This was our first big beer fest we were involved with. We went as wide-eyed first timers and left as beerfest non-virgins!
3. Music in da house! We were fortunate enough to host Michael Lowman who performed an intimate acoustic live performance in the brewery. It was a night to remember as we had about 80 people crammed into the brewery all drinking beer and listening to an awesome live show.Check out a vid of the evening here.
4. Bold & Fearless Brewing! Throughout the year we have tried to push the boundaries of away from the conservative and tried a host of seasonal experimental brews. Among our favourites have been a coffee dunkelweizen, a chocolate porter and a rooibos and honey ale. Our rooibos and honey ale was such a hit that we have since launched it as one of our standard line up, called the Hillbrow Honey!
5. Jozi’s first IPA Day! We were stoked that Arts on Main was chosen as the venue for Jozi’s first IPA day celebration in August 2013. IPA is our favourite style of beer, and it was awesome to serve our Braamfontein Brawler along with IPA’s from some awesome SA microbreweries in our own back yard.
6. Clarens Beer Fest 2014! After breaking down on the side of the road en route to Clarens, we thought we would never make the fest… Thankfully we made it down and what a fest it was! Check out the highlights here.
7. The Belle of the Ball! One of the proudest moments of the year was when our Bree Street Belle Golden Ale received the award for the Best Beer from a New Brewery at the inauguralSAB Craft Beer Champs in Nov 2013. A real cherry on top after an amazing year!
8. BEER = ART. For those who have been to the brewery you will know that we have an upstairs gallery dedicated to showcasing up and coming SA art. It’s awesome to brew and serve beer surrounded by some incredible pieces from young SA artists.
9. The Media Frenzy! Television coverage… radio interviews… newspapers…. magazines… what a ride! An expose of the brewery was aired on Dagbreek on DSTV in late 2013, check it out here! We chatted to Jenny Crwys Williams on 702, Pabi Maloi on Power FM, and featured in The Star, The Times, Marie Claire, Food & Home, Elle Magazine, check these out over here!
10. You, the craft beer drinking public! Every Sunday when we open to the public, we get a chance to talk beer with the patrons who come through to the brewery. We also get a chance to sample beers that home-brewers bring through to taste. We love this interaction and we love the swelling passion for craft beer and brewing. For that we thank you!
Where to from here? Your guess is as good as ours… We’re holding on tight though!
Win double tickets to Taste of Joburg! Wanna join SMACK! Republic Brewing Co. at the Taste of JHB at Monte Casino from 26th to 29th September? Well, then tell us how craft beer has changed your life, from your very first sip to your present day indulgence! The more creative, the better your chances…just saying. Send your story to email@example.com. Winners will be announced soon – and If you’re already going to the TOJ – you know where to get your first beer, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth beers right?
Michael Lowman – live acoustic set at SMACK! Thursday 19 September @ 7pm.
If you listen to the radio, you’ll have heard a few tracks from the ridiculously talented Michael Lowman – and as part of his “Crayon Boxes” album launch – he will be doing a live acoustic storyteller sessions at the brewery this Thursday. Michael will play upstairs at SMACK! in an intimate, storyteller-esque manner. We’re giving away a set of double tickets, so drop us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org to claim them! It’s short notice, but then aren’t all great things done on a spur of the moment?
In the spirit of winter we are introducing a new experimental brew on tap. It’s dark, bold and illegitimate. “Illegitimate” may seem an odd way to describe the beer. That is because we have tweaked this beer somewhat from a standard dunkelweizen. (A dunkelweizen, for those not in the know, is a dark wheat beer – anyone had an Erdinger Dunkel?).
So it’s a weiss beer, so there is a considerable amount of wheat in the grain bill. To give it its dark, chocolatey and roasted notes we have added a healthy portions of munich and chocolate malt. It has been hopped with a single hop addition during the boil using our favourite spicy noble hop.
We probably should have left it there, because even ze Germans would have approved this beer. However we catastrophically overstepped the mark and introduced some roasted and ground Ethopian blended coffee beans right at the end of the boil. This rounds off this beer rather well, providing a bit of extra tartness and some delightful coffee notes on the aroma.
The end result is a beer that is too dark to style for a standard dunkel, and the coffee beans provide some additional roasted tartness not normally associated with most commercial examples. Hence we have coined it our bastardised dunkelweizen – full bodied, creamy and perfect as a night cap on a cold evening!
This beer will be available on the SMACK! taps from Sunday 7 July. Come have a taste before it runs out!
“So is your beer brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot?” asks an occasional patron to our brewery.
“Thankfully NO!” is our standard reply… “It is all natural, unfiltered and unpasteurised beer so you’ll be just fine.”
We get a lot of people at the brewery asking whether our beer conforms to the German beer purity law of 1516, called the Reinheitsgebot. It is quite interesting and at times comical to discover that most of these people do not know what the law is all about, how it came into being, and why it is archaic and outdated!
So what the hell is the Reinheitsge-whatty?
The Reinheitsgebot was passed as law in Germany in 1516, and stated that only water, barley and hops can be used to brew beer. Where’s the yeast? Yeast was not discovered for another three hundred years by Louis Pasteur, so it was not on the list; brewers just combined all the ingredients together and somehow the beer fermented; we now know it was from yeast in the air.
So there you have it, according to the Reinheitsgebot, any beer brewed in with any other ingredients that are not water, barley, hops and yeast is not “pure” beer. But taking that at face value is deceptive, and in order to truly understand why “pure” beer was advocated back in the 1500s, we have to dig a bit deeper.
The Reinheitsgebot law arose due to two main factors in Germany at the time. Firstly, the beer brewing practices of that time were not particularly sanitary, and medieval brewers used some fairly unpalatable and sometimes poisonous ingredients to preserve beer in place of hops, including soot, mushrooms, and “other stuff” (cue Windhoek ads).
Secondly, and perhaps the main reason for the law, were for political reasons relating to rising food prices. In the middle ages, brewing grew from something people did at home into a legitimate industry. There was great competition between brewers and bakers for grains such as wheat and rye. This competition for ingredients, combined with the Germans’ insatiable thirst for beer, resulted in increasing food prices. Specifying the ingredients that brewers could use removed this price competition, and the rest is history…
Fast forward 500 years…
Beer has come a long way since then. Styles have evolved and boundaries have been pushedsmashed. Using adjuncts (i.e. any ingredient to add flavour and aroma that is not hops or barley) has become an accepted practice in brewing. Any beer that is brewed properly using all natural ingredients is “pure” beer. Brewers must just be honest in disclosing what goes into their beer.
While some of our beers conform to the Reinheitsgebot, most of them do not. We have also begun embarking on a new range of experimental beers, most of them using unique adjuncts, which we will be developing of the next couple of months. We will be collaborating with some flavour experts in order to get the best out of our brews. Exciting times ahead indeed!
So the next time you are sipping on one of our Maboneng Maverick Saison’s, and the citrusy aroma from the naartjie peel, or the peppery-dry finish from the crushed peppercorns is not “pure” enough for you, then rather go and drink a Windhoek. But purer beer than ours you will not find.