Airport Craft Brewery – Winter menu launch

Have you guys seen the brewery and restaurant at OR Tambo? I’ve only ever been into the part which is past the local departures security, so when I invited to the winter menu launch, I was intrigued. Mostly to see how I was going to get past security, but also because I had tried the range before and wasn’t exactly impressed. Anyway, turns out I’m a noob. There is a whole other section in the food court (a place I generally avoid) – and if I’m not mistaken, it’s where the old Keg used to be. It’s a really cool spot with lots of sitting space, a lovely wrap around bar and an airy smoking section. Win.

The brewery has moved in house after being contracted out for a while. Mpumelelo or Mpumi, as he’s known, learnt his trade from Lex Mitchell at Mitchell’s in Knysna. He’s got some big plans. First up is getting consistency and quality right in the brewpub. They have 2 branches within the airport so that’s number 1. After that, it seems, he will start looking at getting the ACB into other South African airports, which is helluva exciting.

We tried 3 beers: the Pilsner, Red Ale and Porter. There are a bunch of other brews available on a regular basis.

The Pilsner was easy drinking but a little on the sweet side for me. I’d have liked a slightly stronger hop bite at the end just to make it crisper. Mpumi did mention that he wanted a beer that would be appealing to both men and women (yawn) because he’s found that women don’t generally like the bitterness of a pilsner (yawn again). But it did seem pretty popular amongst the crowd (women included) so maybe he’s onto something.

The Red Ale has all manners of biscuit and caramel aromas and flavours. It was creamy and soothing. Nice amber-red hue too.

The Porter was my favourite of the lot. Coffee and chocolate on the nose (reminiscent of a stout) but with that typically lighter body that Porters are known for. It was almost a dark lager if not for that nose. I found it quite yummy.

The brewery itself is immaculate, even in its fairly tight space. Mpumi is brewing around 3 times a week, but it’s mostly determined by the stock. The Pilsner is the biggest seller, so it’s the most regularly brewed.

A note on the food. I’m not a huge foodie (mostly because I’m a veggie/pescatarian and we’re generally a little neglected) but I really enjoyed the meal. For starters there was a selection of skewers (prawn, mushroom, beef/chicken) plus a caprese salad and even a carrot soup. Let’s be honest, those could have made up a full meal. The prawn and mushroom skewers were delicious. I think presentation could be improved slightly, but there was nothing to complain about.

Then I had a veggie burger: halloumi and roasted peppers as the “patty”. It was super yum. The meat eaters generally stuck to the rib-eye steak, and I heard only good things.

What was pretty cool after the food, was that they brought in a cold-brewed coffee demo and tasting for dessert. I’d never tried it, and knowing that it can take 24 hours to brew a cup of coffee doesn’t make me any more interested. But, get this, it’s a bit of a thing (apparently) to mix your cold brewed coffee with a mixer (think lemonade, tonic or ginger ale). I tried a ginger ale mix and it was actually delicious.

There was even a Jameson’s demo – speaking of the collaborations between whiskey and beer. We’ve all tried the 667 (Devil’s Peak) and the 1976 (Soweto Gold). It was interesting to meet some of the brand ambassadors, who are clearly passionate about the product. I even snagged a prize 🙂

The event itself was a bunch of fun, I’m so glad I went. Big thanks to all the organisers!


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