Open just under a year, Beerhouse is a fresh, innovative concept in the Johannesburg bar/restaurant scene. And considering that South Africans drink more than 6.2 billion litres of beer every year (the second highest rate of consumption in the world), I have a feeling that it is going to be a roaring success.
Like its counterpart in Cape Town, Beerhouse offers 99 different types of beer (both bottled and draught) and meaty, savoury bar food to accompany it. The selection of craft beers is truly impressive, and you’ll be hard pressed to find any other establishment in South Africa with so many under one roof.
If you’re overwhelmed by the choices and are not sure what to try, Beerhouse helpfully offers a “Beer O’Clock” sampler platter consisting of some of their top sellers: Soweto Gold Lager, CBC Pilsner, Apollo Blonde, CBC Amber Weiss, Devil’s Peak First Light, Lakeside London Ale, Lakeside American Pale Ale, Woodstock Californicator, Apollo Stout, Dragon Ginger Beer, Savannah Dry Cider and Liefmans Fruitesse. The menu also offers a paragraph about each individual beer, and a flowchart/graphic “tree” (right) that shows all the different categories of beer (ales, lagers, stouts, etc) and how they are related to each other.
The food offerings will not help your waistline, but are a cut above your standard greasy pub grub. Executive chef Roy MacAskill takes bar classics and adds a gourmet twist: for example you’ll find mac & cheese in a Dijon and cream cheese reduction, with Kelin River 12-month aged Gruyere, peppadews, smoked bacon and garlic bread; or try the slow-roasted, chilli-glazed pork belly roll on ciabatta with thick hand-cut chips. For those who don’t want to confine themselves to one item, a popular option is the Beerhouse platter, which includes bitterballen, cocktail boerewors, mini flammkuchen, currywurst skewers, mini prego rolls, mini pork belly rolls, pork crackling and chilli biltong.
Monthly “meet the brewers” events showcase local beer makers and allow you to sample their creations alongside off-menu food items specifically prepared for the occasion. I recently went to a tasting for Soweto Gold, a brand made by microbrewers Ubuntu Kraal, the only beer maker in Johannesburg’s Soweto township. After a short presentation on the art and science of beer making, we tucked into this smooth, low-carbonation lager, which was paired with fantastic blackened Cajun chicken skewers with a wild mushroom and Parmesan cream sauce. Other samples included Ubuntu Kraal’s Apple Ale, Gogo’s Ginger Beer, and the Orlando Cinnamon & Coffee Stout, paired with candied bacon, spiced pistachio shrimp, and grilled pineapple kebabs with cinnamon mascarpone, respectively.
Despite offering primarily beer (there is a small selection of spirits, bubbly, wines, coffee and non-alcoholic beer), the atmosphere is anything but “frat house” — in fact it’s quite upscale, but with a casual vibe. The indoor bar and seating area has an industrial-chic theme, with dark grey walls, exposed ventilation shafts, and picnic table seats. The outdoor deck is twice the size of the indoor area, and this is where the real fun happens. Music pulses from a state-of-the-art sound system, chefs braai up meat on open barbecue pits, and beer fanatics make merry under the bright yellow umbrellas that adorn each table.
Watch the video below to get an idea of the energy and atmosphere you’ll find at Beerhouse Fourways.
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