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…
From all of us at the SMACK! team, cheers!
SMACK! placed in the top 10 beers in the country for 2015 at the Annual SAB Craft Brewers Champs.
SMACK! proved to be more than a one trick pony picking up their second top 10 finish after taking the award for “Best beer by a New Brewery” in SA in the 2013 edition for the Bree Street Belle Golden Ale.
A panel of 25 judges, including SAB tasters, Beer Judge Certification Programme-qualified tasters, industry players and beer enthusiasts met in Johannesburg recently to judge 136 beers and ciders – up from 75 in 2014. You can check out a review of the awards here.
The Newtown Nemesis is a Vanilla & Bourbon Milk Stout and is available from the brewery as well as throughout all our bottle stores and most of our bar outlets. Check the outlets tab for more info.
Clarens asked all breweries to brew a special festival beer for the Clarens Beer Fest. SMACK! brewed up a delicious Nut Brown Ale – which proved to be a hit with the judges and public alike, placing 2nd over all!
Could this beer our next official SMACK! beer?
Check out the official video from Capital Craft!
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 the streets 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!
It has come to our attention that any brewery worth its beeriness has brewers with beards. Since our launch in March, our three brewers, Drew, Grant and Dave, have been decidedly lacking in the facial hair department, with only Drew making any attempt to neglect the razor up until now.
As we have entered into the month of Movember, where awkward facial hair is indeed cool again, we thought that this would be the perfect time to launch BEERDVEMBER. (see how we did that…beer > beard > beerd…*high five*).
Here’s how it will work. For the month of November, our three brewers will lock up their facial shears, and attempt to grow the greatest brewer beards in the world. Now unfortunately for our three beard virgins, thick facial hair they have not been blessed with, so this attempt at brewer beard-dom will either be an unexpected success or a rather catastrophic failure… Time will tell!
The BEFORE shots: Three Days Growth
In keeping with the general vibe of Movember and giving back, SMACK! will donate R5 of every beer sold at the brewery to charity during BEERDVEMBER to any men* that have any form of facial hair…be it MO’s or BEERD’s, all welcome!
So Jozi we call on all of you to grow your MO’s, be weird with your BEERD’s, come grab a beer and do your bit!
The SMACK! Brewers*or women – we don’t discriminate
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
pushed smashed. 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.
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