The unexpected splendiferousness of artisan beer

February 24, 2010

Past Events

Last night I went to a beer and food pairing.

This is unusual.  Very unusual.  I don’t like beer.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that I detest the stuff.  Not on the hottest, dryest, most energy-sapping day has even the frostiest, most dew-covered brew ever quenched my thirst, or seemed even vaguely palatable.  Bitter, yeasty, yuck.

But, last night I discovered something I suppose I ought to have known.  Something I should have guessed at, but never thought to question…  All beer is not equal.  All beer is not flung together in the space of a few days to pump out to the masses.  All beer is not crafted with care, using only natural ingredients and no added preservatives, colourants or any other ‘funny’ stuff.

Some beer is special.  Some beer takes 12 weeks to create and should be savoured just as respectfully.  Some beer can blow a girl’s mind.

And the artisan brews I tasted last night at &Union did just that.

I am gobsmacked.  Who knew that beer could taste like champagne?  That there could be hints of dried apricot and other fruity notes?  Who could have guessed that a block of hard unpasteurised cheese and German mustard could transform that same fruitiness into a golden blaze of honeysuckle?

What an awesome revelation.

The event, in case you’re wondering, was the first official event organised by Cape Town’s shiny new Slow Food convivium: Slow Food Mother City (more about that soon).  &Union was the perfect choice: passionate purveyors of hand-crafted artisan beers, which are brilliantly paired with complementary seasonal foods, sourced locally.  The quality is exceptional and, wherever possible, the food is organic and free range.

(They even have unbleached, recycled Green Home toilet paper and napkins, believe it or not.)

Long story short:  I, who once loathed beer, now love it… REAL beer, that is.  So, do yourself a favour and try it for yourself.  Yes, you will pay more than you would for your average bottle of mass-produced swill (ahem), but it is most definitely worth it.

&Union is located at 110 Bree Street, Cape Town. www.andunion.com.  They’re open from 7am to 11pm, and serve delicious seasonal meals to go with their beautiful brews. They also make a mean coffee (being owned by the creators of Vida e Caffe).

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