Swifty’s Bru introduces second African Warrior: Muti

Swifty’s Bru introduces second African Warrior: Muti

We gathered under the ancient Milkwood trees on an autumny Saturday afternoon in May. The happy chatter of friends and the clinking of glasses filled the courtyard, whilst Gary played some classics on his guitar. Later, when the sun sat low in the sky and all the tables were full of joyful locals, Gary switched to the mellow sounds of the saxophone which, rightly so, earned him the nickname, Gary the Lips. The kiddies made friends and played together; the jungle gym transformed into an imaginary kingdom filled with knights and princesses. Smiling waiters in Swifty’s shirts carried icy trays of beers and drinks to the thirsty patrons, who happily toasted and celebrated this special occasion. All was well with the world.

The venue was the local family pub, Fisherman’s Restaurant in Kommetjie. Seven months earlier, Craig Downes also found himself amid a similarly festive gathering here, when he launched his labour of love: Swifty’s Bru and his first locally crafted African Pale Ale, Impi.

On this day, however, Craig launched the second of his proudly South African craft beers – a dark, broody and deep Porter-style brew, called Muti.

If you’ve lived in the South Peninsula for any amount of time, you’ll know of Craig’s wife, Nicole. She is the Deep South social media guru and the brain behind the ever-expanding South Peninsula Moms franchise. She’s bubbly, she’s chatty, she’s completely rooted and invested in our Valley and proudly stands behind any local venture. But how many of us know her slightly more behind-the-scenes significant other?

On the day, I was lucky to catch up with Mr. Swifty himself for a few minutes – he’s been doing the rounds most of the afternoon, checking in with friends and family who came to celebrate his success. Luckily his business manager and successor, his nine-year-old daughter, Dani, seems to have the whole event under control, carefully monitoring the attendance and the kegs to make sure they don’t run out of beer. She does this all with a jolly big smile and a clipboard, leaving the social interactions to her Dad.

Throughout my chat with Craig, his enthusiasm for beer-brewing is apparent. He always knew he would become a brewer. The craft of his passion started many years ago in his humble kitchen and when it outgrew the kitchen sink, it expanded to the garage, much to his family’s dismay. But they stuck it out. He nurtured and honed this skill over the years, and after countless tastings, tweaks, experiments and explosions, he now works with a licenced brewer (Valley Breweries) and has several commercial outlets selling his brews.

So, what makes Swifty’s Bru different from any of the other microbrewery beers available out there? It’s got heart. It’s got passion. It tastes like success and drinks like liquid gold. Oh, and the branding is seriously out of this world! His beers are a celebration of South Africa and its quality produce. So much so that most the barley used in the production of Impi is locally grown and malted, supplemented only by a small percentage of world class imported Belgian malts.

Now, I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the tastes and smells of beers, but I can tell you this: I did of course try both Impi and Muti (it’s for research purposes!) and, even though they’re opposite ends of the spectrum, I instantly fell in love with both. That is not even an exaggeration! So, here’s a few of my layman’s tasting notes:

Impi reminds me of warm, summer afternoons by the pool; it’s refreshing and light, but deeply fragrant and golden in colour. I think it will be coupled best with a lovely piece of juicy steak straight off the braai. I would probably also serve it with something a bit spicier, like a gorgeous plate of Mexican nachos; the slight bitterness would contrast beautifully with the creamier elements like cheese and quacamole.

Muti, on the other hand – oh man, Muti speaks my language. It’s a happy marriage between robustness and drinkability. This brew ticks the two most important boxes for me: it’s mild without being bitter, and it tastes like sweeties – think hints of caramel, toffee and chocolate. This is more of a winter drink – if you want to warm up slowly from the inside out, grab a pint of Muti! I would serve this dark beer with a nice stew, or for the ultimate indulgence – serve it for dessert with a chocolate lava pudding!

I felt excited after my chat with Craig; you get so easily swept up in his plans and dreams. I’m excited for what Swifty’s Bru’s future holds; excited for the new heights Craig is going to take it to. He hints at the release of another beer before summer…I’ll follow his social media with bated breath until that happens! And all of this is happening right here under our noses, in our little Valley. Honestly, I don’t think this Valley is big enough to contain the African warriors for much longer – hopefully they can soon take the whole of Cape Town by storm, because the rest of the city is missing out. Big time.

So, next time you see the man with the Swifty’s cap and the easy smile, give him a good old handshake and invite him out for a swift pint.

                                         Amilinda Wilkinson is a small town girl with big dreams. She is a nature geek, total foodie, devoted wife and mother to furry children. When she’s not at the office, she explores, writes about, photographs and indulges in this fragile adventure we call life.

Read more from Amilinda on her blog The Little Hedonist.

 

Swifty’s Launch

Swifty’s Launch

…Phew…Finally a chance to catch up since the launch of Swifty’s and our Pale Ale, Impi, at Fishermans’ all the way back on the 15th of October 2016.

Like all good stories this one starts years before in a kitchen far far away – here I would endlessly annoy my folks with my home-brewing pineapples, exploding ginger beer bottles or rancid watermelon. I always knew I would be a brewer.

In High School I was fortunate enough to enjoy 2 student exchanges to Germany – where you can drink beer at the tender age of 16 – and it was here that I developed my love for beer and the brewing of said goodness. However after school – instead of brewing – I studied and eventually entered the financial sector where this story might have ended behind a desk and a computer.

But like the dark lord Sauron I worked in secret…biding my time…

OK, not really, I did bide my time, but with my loving family and not an army of orcs by my side. I kept the fermenter in the garage where I would occasionally brew a batch of something, all the while developing my palate and my skills; moving from first using brew cans, then to real grains and hops until twenty years out of school I looked at my garage – boxes of empty bottles, shelves and shelves of different brews; pale ales, porters, milk stouts, attempts at Indian Pale Ale, Lagers, Pilsners, even apple cider and ginger beers each with a different coloured cap… Here I’d just like to say that I’m not obsessed with beer or beer brewing I’m merely very enthusiastic. However when I looked at my garage it was hard to explain this point of view to others – including my wife (Nicole).

To get me out of the house Nicole let me transform the garden shed into a home-pub for me and my friends to enjoy my home-brews…I called ‘my pub’ Swifty’s – after a swift pint – and for a long while mates would come over for a swift one in the garden at my place until like the house that too was too small. I had to expand. I had to sell my beer commercially.

But what to brew? I can’t make a German beer as good as a German and I can’t make an American Ale as good as an American, nor Belgians for Belgians…not yet anyway…and with so many established craft-brewers…I decided the only thing to do was brew a truly South African Beer. Impi, an African Pale Ale.

So I made a few contacts and took samples of Impi around to find a licensed brewer to brew and an outlet to sell. Luckily I found support locally in Morne, Glenn and the guys at Valley Breweries and I booked a run…and at Fishermans’ Pub and Grill where Hilary and Dave gave me the opportunity to launch.

      

 

And on the 15th of October 2016, Impi was officially launched at Fishermans’ Pub and Grill. With the help of social media (thanks Nicole!) and word of mouth we had a great turnout of locals and friends – with Andre Jordaan buying the first pint – and I can’t believe we sold about 75 litres on the day.

A special thanks to Hilary, Dave and Joseph at the Fishermans’ for without who I’d be sitting with thousands of litres of ale in my garage and a frustrated wife. A massive thank you to my friends, family and anyone else who has bought an Impi and supported my dream. Also a big thank you must go to all the staff at the Fishermans’ – for the support in marketing my beer to customers. Lastly I’d like to thank Morne and the guys at Valley Breweries for doing such a good job with the brewing, kegging and bottling.

Cheers,