Mad Giant: brewing an experience

I gave Mad Giant an exceptionally high rating on their True Grit amber ale a while ago, and since then I’ve been following their movements. When they opened up their brewpub earlier this year, I was stoked but still hadn’t visited.

I recently moved jobs and am now in the Jozi CBD. So I am now closer to the action and decided that it was time. Mad Giant have opened with Urbanologi – a restaurant – on site.

I got to the Sheds, walked to Mad Giant and was greeted heartily by a super waiter named Lovemore. I asked for a tasting tray and got going on each, starting with the pilsner.

The Guzzler Pilsner: bread on the nose, the beer is well bittered and really easy to drink. I often think of pilsners as a bit of a boring style, only because they’re not bursting with flavour like ales. But it does the job of quenching your thirst like no other. Mad Giant’s Pilsner is a lovely example. I polished it within a few seconds.

Killer Hop Pale Ale: Good hops on the nose; some tropical fruit (I got pineapple mostly). The beer delivers more on aroma than it does on taste and I got a slight oil slick on the end. But it’s meant to be sessionable, and it’s definitely that. Great golden colour and perfect clarity helps this beer along. It seemed like the favourite amongst the other patrons.

True Grit Amber: The colour is a little deceptive. It’s more caramel than amber. With a bit of a swirl, the aromas came through and with an eclectic mix of candied fruit and some faint pine. The hop bitterness comes in on the early taste. But its really well balanced with plenty of grain backbone. I’m not sure it’s the 5 out of 5 that I remember, but its great.

Electric Light Weiss: The mildly hazy golden colour is the only visual cue to the style amongst the four tasters. It’s got all the right aromas, banana and a little spice. The tasting reinforces the style and I found it very refreshing.

But this isn’t just a review of the beer. I want to chat a little bit about the brewpub.

Some things I noticed during the visit:

  • The place is huge. I had similar thoughts about Copperlake and that’s done really well. They’ve also just opened up their beer garden (as of today) which increases the space by almost double.
  • When sitting outside and ordering a tasting tray, the staff didn’t necessarily give an order to taste in, nor did they offer more information than the name and style of the beer (in fact, when pressed the server pretty much mixed up a lot of knowledge – like talking about the IPA legend when explaining the pale ale). I’d like to see a little more ownership of the product and selling it in the best way possible. Not everyone who visits is going to know the difference in styles, or what order would be best to taste them in.
  • The food at Urbanologi is said to be amazing, but the kitchen wasn’t open when I was there. They did have “snacks” but I really didn’t care for the idea of popcorn or crackling. It was a little disappointing considering between 4pm and 6pm is a great after work time and some munchies would be good. It seems like with the new beer garden addition this could change though.

I think that Mad Giant are going to do amazingly well – not just because of the beer, but because they’re designing an experience which is not that common up here in Jozi (there’s something about liquor licences and zoning that prevents a lot of other breweries from opening up pubs). In time I hope to see some seasonals coming out, and a bit better “educational service”, otherwise I can only wish Mad Giant the very best of luck! See you there 🙂

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