Diane de Beer
Pictures: Nelis Botha
CAPITAL CRAFT BEER ACADEMY
Address: Greenlyn Village Centre, SHOP NO. 20 Cnr Thomas Edison & 12TH Street East, Pretoria
Phone:012 424 8601
Hours: Monday & Tuesdays from 12pm to 9.30pm (kitchen); Wednesdays & Thursday opens at 10.30am; Friday & Saturday 10.30am to 11.30pm and Sundays from 10.30am to 6.30pm (kitchen)
If like me you’re not really a beer drinker, arguably the Capital Craft Beer Academy doesn’t make sense.
But from the start, the sensibilities of the four guys who came up and developed the original concept, hit all the right spots.
The obvious attraction of the dining/drinking experience is the 210 beers on their menu. Brothers Henk and Willie van der Schyf, Johan Auriacombe and Niel Groenewald, started with a craft beer festival in the shade of the Voortrekker Monument in Tshwane. It has since moved to the Pretoria Botanical Gardens.
The success of that was overwhelming but it also encouraged the quartet of entrepreneurs to start their own restaurant Capital Craft Beer Academy in the Greenlyn area with another opening a few years ago in Centurion which has a strong family slant – and they’re both swinging.
What captivated me from the start was the food menu, with new additions a few months back, that offers cuisine I wouldn’t have associated with a beer venue. From vegetarian platters with roast veg and haloumi skewers, grilled corn on the cob, falafel balls, crudité salad, jalapeno poppers (with a bite!), served with Tzaziki and guacamole (R80) to one of their new menu items, A Green Goddess consisting of green salad with sugar snap peas, cucumber, baby marrow slivers, spring onions, green olives, avo and crumbed feta on a bed of coz lettuce with a green goddess dressing (R70).
The variety is huge though. From a brunch section (Big Boy with cut waffle, three rashers of honey-glazed bacon, grilled tomato, seasoned corn medallions, smoked Bockwurst and two eggs to top – R75 to crafty omelettes with two items of choice R65), salads (above), snacks (deep-fried biltong, Mac Mac balls with homemade macaroni balls covered in panko crumbs deep fried and served with Jalapeno cheese sauce, pretzels and crunchy chicken livers) to sandwiches (party in the club, stolen goods, Fat Frankie) to the last word in dining huge: Puff, Puff, Pass, a blazing selection of boerewors, smoked chicken pops, 200 g smoked pork ribs and in-house smoked brisket all tied together with chips and their legendary onion rings as one of their select platters.
And for the serious carnivores there’s a great selection of burgers such as the Chakalaka Burger (R79), new on the menu, with a 200g patty topped with traditional South African spicy vegetable relish on a fresh bun with mayo and baby spinach, or the Mean Green, the usual patty with sundried tomato pesto with cut jalapenos and lashings of basil aioli (R85). Or you could opt for the ribs, which they promise benefit from time and effort invested to bring you the best.
Keeping to their smart theme, desserts include a classic waffle served with chocolate ice cream and chocolate-pistachio truffles or a rock&road ice cream coffee, both seem to fit the venue so sweetly.
Other new items on the menu include a Philly Steak Roll, haloumi fries, pulled pork poppers, their own home-made pretzels, pork wing, a Fat Frankie and Uncle Porkie, both wrapped in bacon, grilled parmesan corn and marrow or for the seriously health conscious a Pumpkin Patch which is a clever combo of salads and veggies.
If you’re not a serious or regular craft beer drinker, this will be a sharp learning curve. They currently list more than 200 and this number keeps growing. As newbies, start off with a tasting kit guided by an informative manager who will show you the way to go and you could ask for a viewing of their on-tap beers as well as their storing facilities. It’s impressive.
There’s no better place to start if you wish to polish up on your understanding of ale.
If you want wine, they have a small but crafty selection as well as an extremely good whisky and gin collections. Shooters include house blends like a melktertjie or a beavis and butthead, craft bombs sport combos like Soweto Bomb or Dawson’s Kriek with some serious gin tasting platters also on offer.
Beer is the big boss but by no means the only one talking.
Depending on your age and how you enjoy your meals, you will pick a time to visit. At the start of the week things are gentle but it can get packed with a serious party vibe on weekends. Sundays usually have a strong family feel.
The service is attentive and helpful and because they warn that preparation time is around 45 minutes to deliver on their promise, they keep you informed about the state of the food. Questions are smartly answered, and a general well-being is constantly monitored.
They’re big on ambience and their contemporary beer hall style is superb. Tables can be shared easily, and with a look of canteen chic, well designed, it all works smoothly. Even when they’re busy, there’s more than enough space to select a quieter spot.
What has really impressed me every time I have visited is the way they have ticked every box. It’s extremely difficult to please all the people, all of the time. Yet they seemed to have managed just that and with a menu update, those who like their style of food have fun new dishes to try.
You will feel as if you’ve landed in heaven if craft beer is your thing and if you don’t know much, this is the place to learn. You will find your poison and so much more.
Because they’re part of the Greenlyn complex, parking is easily available and safe and check out the competition while you’re there, because this is another of Pretoria’s food havens with Zest and Eisbein and Co all part of this cuisine carnival.