Pictures: Hennie Fisher and supplied

Devil’s Peak Brewery’s Wouter Rothman writes:
The Capital Craft team had a dream,
To one day brew beer together as a team.
In 2014 a little hop made its way from George to P-Town,
Wishing to one day be in a glass and hearing people say: “Down”!
7 years later that dream came true,
After a journey whereby a couple of gentlemen got on a plane, and to Cape Town they flew.
In quite a dodgy looking suitcase these amazing African Queen hops travelled,
Other people at the airport looked at us and they were quite bedazzled.
Brewer JC Steyn at Devil’s Peak Brewery had one look at the hops,
And he said, these hops are mighty fine, yes they are tops!
The brewing process of this amazing pale ale started,
We celebrated the occasion in Cape Town that evening, and the next day it felt as if we were darted…
The Hop On Hop Off was kegged and transported from Devil’s Peak Brewery to Capital Craft in P-town,
And these hops dream will tonight come true, after hearing: “DOWN”!
Tonight beers will be had, and more friendships will be formed,
All because of Capital Craft Hop On Hop Off the Pale Ale that was born!

It’s always been about the narrative for the Capital Craft gang of four as they move from one venture to the next, some big, some small and others just a whole lot of fun for the boys (brothers Henk and Willie van der Schyf, Johan Auriacombe and Niel Groenewald) and their customers.

It was all about brewing their own beer  ̶  something they were at first determined not to do, because Capital Craft was aimed at supporting independent craft beer brewers across the country, explained MC Auriacombe, one of the many delights of the night.

But they couldn’t resist. Once they had secured some plants from George, the heart of hops planting in South Africa, they decided to start their very own green gardens at their Capital Craft home in (aptly named) Greenlyn in Pretoria.

Once that was up and running, they aimed for a collaboration with Cape Town’s Devil’s Peak Brewery, which would prepare their limited edition Pale Ale dubbed Hop On Hop Off.

It is described as a “lovely array of fruit dominating hop aromas ranging from citrus to tropical fruits with a mild malt backbone”, and while I am no beer connoisseur, I can attest to something really refreshing  ̶  even for a non-beer drinker, I could go for a second round.

From the green gardens of the beer legends of Pretoria, to the heart of the beer masters of Cape Town: Capital Craft in collaboration with Devil’s Peak Brewery made the perfect team.

According to the brewers, hops are primarily used in the beer brewing process as a bittering, flavouring and stability agent, to which, in addition to bitterness, they impart floral, fruity, or citrus flavours and aromas.

But to begin at the genesis of this adventure. It really started when Groenewald (from Capital Craft) paid a visit to some hop farms in George, returning home with a sample of the African Queen hops. These are not supposed to grow in Pretoria, but after years and years of trying at, the hops they say, in florally terms, “finally took flame and grew into a lush forest surrounding their outside deck”  ̶  hence the picture.

Capital Craft Hops

After harvesting, the Pretoria team dried the hops and packaged them into a very suspicious-looking parcel for the trip to Cape Town, where they went straight to the brewery to start brewing their very own beer. Head brewer at Devil’s Peak JC Steyn was very happy with their samples and decided to use a base IPA and whole cone dry-hopped it with their hops (and hopefully beer afficionados will know what I’m talking about here), and thus Hop On Hop Off Pale Ale was born.

If you want to try it and need some fun food to have with it, make sure to talk to the manager, PJ Waugh, for some suggestions.

On the night, he made fabulous suggestions for our table of four and we shared the following: a helping of meat candy, which is BBQ inspired brisket burnt ends served with a ranch-type sauce (from the US) that was interesting; cheesy fried sticks  ̶  two panko-crusted mozarella wedges deep fried with Parmesan shavings, which was good after we added some salt; two hamburgers, including the Oklahoma Big M** burger with beef patty smashed and grilled with white onions with melted cheddar topped with Oklahoma inspired pickle and onion relish and the extremely hot Nashville chicken burger which was a great share between four, not sure I would have managed on my own. Their burgers are really good with buns baked on the premises, always a requirement!

We also had BBQ’d chicken wings, and to break the deep fry even if the alcohol helps, a lovely Poke bowl with black rice as a crunchy base and the salmon sashimi as our protein. I might opt for the falafel balls next time.

And as if all of that (even shared between four) wasn’t enough, we had to dip into their always retro-inspired desserts and couldn’t resist the strawberry cheesecake waffle topped by a delicious cappuccino.

This has always been a great hangout with friends. The ambience, the fun of the menu, the variety of beers, gin, wine and so much more…

And always a huge smile that comes with service.

From planting a simple seed to collaborating on a fantastic beer and ultimately entrenching dreams and friendships … One hop at a time!” noted the man who loves playing with words, Devil’s Peak brewery’s Wouter Rothman.

And concluding on the night, Auriacombe paid homage to their hopes and dreams: “It’s all about the little hops and the little shop that could…

They have made 700 Liters of Hop On Hop Off Pale Ale was made, and is available at Capital Craft. Go and hang…

Shop No. 20
Greenlyn Village Centre
Cnr Thomas Edison & 12th Street East
Menlo Park, Pretoria

Trading hours: Monday to Thursdays 10.30 to 10pm; Fridays and Saturdays 10.30 am to 10.30pm and Sundays 10.30am to 7.30pm