Mitchells Brewery in Cape Town, South Africa
I wasn’t excited when I saw that the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa was on our African Culinary Adventure itinerary. So what if it’s Africa’s largest shopping and entertainment center. I didn’t travel around the world to shop. I came to taste and adventure. I could see its usefulness for dinner, but outside of the evening hours, I wanted nothing to do with it, let alone an entire afternoon.
So we found beer.
What were you expecting me to say? That I bought matching socks, underwear, and handkerchiefs?
In the heart of the V&A Waterfront is Mitchell’s Waterfront Brewery. I’ve been to shopping center brewpubs in the past and have always been less than impressed with their offerings. However, after the previous night’s experience sampling South African craft beer at Beer House, I had a feeling that Mitchell’s would offer a pleasant afternoon of beer drinking. If it didn’t, we’d still enjoy the sweeping views of the water and Table Mountain from the pub’s sun-drenched patios.
About Mitchel’s Brewery
Mitchell’s Brewery is South Africa’s oldest craft brewery. Lex Mitchell founded the brewery in 1983 in Knysna (along the Garden Route). Head Brewmaster Dave McRae joined Mitchell’s in 1984 and has been overseeing beer production ever since. Throughout his tenure, Dave has maintained the beers original quality and has never strayed from only using the freshest ingredients with no preservatives or fillers.
Mitchell’s Waterfront Brewery, also referred to as Mitchell’s Scottish Alehouse, is an offshoot of the Knysna owned brewery. Mitchell’s opened the location in 1989 when the brewery began to expand outside of Knysna. At first, beer was brewed on premise, but a renovation in 2007, which added a restaurant to the century old building, moved the brewery offsite. Today, Mitchell’s is the second largest in South Africa.
Sound confusing? Just know that the beer is the same that you’d find at the main Knysna brewery.
Another Fine Cape Town Craft Product
As Mitchell’s Brewery is South Africa’s oldest, and largest, craft brewery, most writers overlook it in blog posts and articles summarizing South Africa’s craft beer scene. As in the United States, craft beer writers tend to focus on the new and trending, often forgetting about the forefathers of the craft. Mitchell’s shouldn’t be overlooked. It has survived a 30-year history under the shadow of SABMiller, all while brewing quality English ales before quality beer was cool.
As is typical when I visit a new brewery, I ordered a flight so that I could sample Mitchell’s entire lineup. The first beer on my lips was Foresters Draught. I was parched from hiking Table Mountain, and the light pilsner style beer, with an ABV of 3.6%, was the perfect thirst quencher. I was afraid of this beer at first as most low ABV beers often translate into tasteless yellow water. Not Foresters though. The pilsner packed crisp flavors of banana and cloves. I did catch a slight hint of butter on the nose, which tells me that perhaps the beer lines needed cleaned. Thankfully, the flavor was not tainted.
Next was another session beer, Bosuns Bitter, which also measured in at 3.6% ABV. Slightly bitter, Bosuns was also an ideal thirst quencher. I tasted slight hints of pipe tobacco on the tongue from the malt lending it a bit more body than Foresters. Once again, there was a touch of butter on the nose. Thankfully, this was the last of the beers to have it.
The ABV quickly jumped up to 6.7% with the Milk and Honey Ale. I found the beer to be dangerously drinkable with very smooth flavors. Next was the Old Wobbly, Mitchell’s take on a high gravity beer. As with many ales boasting over 10% ABV, I found the flavor profile overrun with booziness. While some may like their ales strong on the boozy side, I prefer a balance. If I want booze, I’ll just drink a shot of whiskey.
My personal favorite was the 90 Shilling Ale, brewed as a traditional Scottish Ale, full-flavored with lots of spice. I noticed smooth notes of licorice and leather on nose. The tongue was laced with a sweet caramel malt. 90 Shilling would be my go to ale if I was a regular at the brewery. It’s an ideal patio sipper and pairs well with traditional pub fare.
Mitchell’s Brewery Makes the V&A Waterfront a Worthy Stop on Your Itinerary
Mitchell’s Brewery continued the lesson that I learned the previous night at Beer House: Cape Town is a destination for craft beer as well as wine. Be sure to include Mitchell’s on your culinary tour of Cape Town. After all, you know that you’re going to end up at the V&A at some point. While the others are shopping, join the cool kids over at Mitchell’s and sample some authentic English ales!