The Beginner Brewer: 2017

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Episode 6 (Shorts): Battle of the Blondes

In our first rendition of SBV Shorts, we focus on Blonde Ales. Matt and Marcel bemoan the lack of subtlety when it comes to marketing these great little gateway beers but have a good time despite themselves.

Beers tasted:
  • Drifter Brewing's Cape Town Blonde
  • Agar's Blonde Ale
  • Two Okes Blonde
  • Devil's Peak First Light
  • That Brewery Company's Blonde
Taste these with us and see if you agree with our verdicts!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Episode 5. We've got Floaters

It’s our IPA episode! Just in time for IPMay. We go through an impressive array of IPAs, including the New England style that looks like dishwater but tastes anything but. Matt and Marcel discuss iconic Sci-Fi stuff and debate the real meaning of “floaters”.

Matt expresses his hatred for almost all the days of the week and we uncover what is perhaps the quintessential Faux-PA in SA right now.

Don’t miss this one. Serious beer will be consumed in a non-serious fashion. You’ve been warned.

Show Notes

Music by Tiger. Visit them at
Fudge by Cheryl Amy Jones bakery. Visit them at

Beers tasted:

Devil’s Peak Blockhouse IPA
Citizen Saboteur English IPA
Devil’s Peak Juicy Lucy IPA
Riot Valve IPA
Redrock Brewing Firebird IPA
&Union Friday Uber IPA

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

IPA-off: Woodstock Californicator VS. Agar's Tomahawk

We've thrown two full-bodied IPAs into the Cage of Ultimate Death (also known as our podcasting studio) to see which one walks (or limps) away in one piece!

In the Cape Town Corner, weighing in at 6.5 % ABV is Woodstock Brewery's Californicator. In the Jozi Corner, also at 6.5% ABV, is Tomahawk IPA by Agar's Brewery.

This is going to be rough.

Before the Pour

Marcel's view: Well this is not going to be too difficult. I can't really find anything redeeming about Agar's labels. It's definitely this brewery's weakest link. In comparison, Woodstock's branding is crisp, well thought-out and gives me the warm and fuzzies. I'd give the first round to Californicator, no contest.

Matt's view: Yip. It's not tough to see who wins here. Although Agar's may not care that much about looks, it doesn't forgive poor design. They don't seem to be following any discernible design ideas that belong in this century. And Woodstock Californicator really brings it with their contemporary, icon-clever labels. Overall a win for the Capetonians.

In the Glass

Marcel's view: Now things are getting interesting. Jozi is looking a little punch-drunk right now, but it's still early days. Tomahawk poured is a beautiful hazy straw colour and the aromas are prominent tropical fruit, grapefruit, and dank hops. It delivers a serious hop punch on first taste. Exactly what you want from a true IPA. This ain't no Faux-PA.

So for Tomahawk, main flavors are grapefruit and grassy goodness all the way down with a good, long finish.

Californicator is a lighter treatment but also has the hazy (i.e. dry-hopped) appearance of its counterpart. Aroma is a clean, bright tropical freshness that promises good things to come. First taste is heavy on the grapefruit and then followed by very clean, citrus and floral notes. Not super-dank like Tomahawk, but hop-forward nonetheless. The malt is in the background, as it should be. It finishes nice and dry. 

This is a very tough call. Tomahawk delivers the goods with its 100 IBUs and you can taste each and every one. Californicator is more sessionable and refreshing, but also no slouch in the hops department. 

Matt's view: Wow. Tomahawk is delicious. Burnt straw colour and very dank hop smell. Its taste is bitter citrus, acidic fruit, and refreshing all at the same time. Somewhat creamy mouthfeel, which is interesting. Taste builds up on second and third sips but never to the point of not wanting even more of this beer. Great stuff.

Californicator is lighter in colour but aroma is right there with loads of citrus, pine, and fruit. It feels less creamy in the mouth than Tomahawk, but flavour is strong citrus hops with a nice balance. This is an IPA you can have more than a few of, I reckon. A very good, subtle beer that won't intimidate overly much.

Will it go to Mars?

It's decision time. Which IPA emerges out of the Cage of Ultimate Doom? Which one would we take with us to Mars? How many rhetorical questions can I string together?

Marcel: It's a maddeningly tough call. Both are great and deserve to go to Mars. But I'm giving it to Agar's Tomahawk. Despite issues with branding, it's a big, in-your-face IPA that delivers the goods.

Matt: Yeah, a difficult choice. But I'm also going with Tomahawk. It's just such an impressive IPA. It does what I want from this style, and that's why it deserves to go to Mars. Well done Jozi!

The Scores

For Marcel

Agar's Tomahawk

Woodstock's Californicator


Agar's Tomahawk

Woodstock's Californicator

Final Verdict

It was a tough match-up and both these beers are really wonderful examples of proper, true-to-form IPAs. If you're looking for a session-friendly, summertime IPA, Californicator probably works better than Tomahawk, but only just. 

On the other hand, Tomahawk really puts hop flavour in the foreground and is a complex, lovely IPA for all true hopheads out there. It rocks!

Guide to the Scores

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Episode 4. The Krausen are Invading!

In this episode, Marcel blames Matt for everything, including the long hiatus in recording the podcast. We review more than a few craft lagers and Matt tastes glaciers. We also look back at the best and worst of 2016 where the long-awaited argument about Mad Max: Fury Road finally happens. Join us for our New Hope episode!
Show Notes:
Some more reading on small-batch brewing:
Music by: The Deaf Commission