The starter platters include such delights as macaroni cheese balls, chicken wings, deep-fried biltong and jalapeño poppers. Apart from being quite delicious, some thought has also clearly gone into naming them. Apart from the Sausage Fest, Deep-Fried Man and Soul Platter, there is also the Puff Puff Pass, described as a blazing selection of smoked boerewors, chicken lollipops, smoked ribs (lamb and pork) and onion rings.
There are various other sections offering snacks, salads, brunch items, sandwiches and superb burger. Try the Killer Kraut, which comes with sauerkraut, mustard, chips, smoky honey-glazed bacon, Jolly Monk flavoured mayo, pickles, and lettuce. Other wonderful burgers include the Drunken Hombre, The No-Bro, the Bid Daddy Stuffed Burger and the Blue Marrow Burger.
Those who may not want burgers could dine on ribs and steaks and, if you have space left, there are some equally decadent desserts to try.
They currently offer around 30 beers on tap (including an uncommon stout on tap), with an additional 228 bottled beer varieties that include non-alcoholic beers. In addition to a beer taster, they now also have a gin taster featuring a range of artisan-produced gins such as Woodstock and Malfy. Continuing the trend of offering interesting tipples, they also have some great whiskies (including a good choice of Japanese whiskies).
They have a friendly bunch of servers led by expert PJ Waugh. He is enthusiastic and passionate about his job, and will provide intelligent suggestions for those who may be timid about the large selection of beverages.
The restaurant offers wonderful outside fire baskets as well as gas heaters for those months when even Pretoria turns cold. The restaurant does have space inside, shared with the large bar that houses the multitude of beers on tap, but is predominantly an outside venue and is often jam-packed inside and out.
The owners are the creators of one of the most successful beer festivals in Pretoria, and offer other educational services such as Academy Night, where they feature an invited brewer to talk about their brand and ethos. They also do wine and gin nights following the same model.
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Diane de Beer
The surprise here is the quality food, which includes innovative hamburgers, sticky-finger ribs, well-made steaks, bunny chows, a meat and a vegetarian option – with roasted vegetables as a side option – and imaginative salads. Try the excellent Beet The Heat, with crunchy pears, pickled beetroot rounds, marinated baby spinach leaves, roasted macadamia nuts, heirloom carrots, a tangy honey lemon and wholegrain mustard vinaigrette with a Soweto Gold Apple Ale granita. On the hamburger side, opt for the Big Daddy, topped with bacon, jalapenos, white and yellow cheddar, and sundried tomatoes – all stuffed in one huge beef patty. It is grilled with a personal barbecue sauce and topped with a cheese and beer-jalapeno sauce. Their crispy onion rings are crunchy and delicious and if you really want to play it all the way, go for the red velvet waffle, it’s a blast. They also have a brunch-, sandwich-, platter- and snack menu.
It’s a beer hall and yet, with their more than 300 beers (and growing) available, they also have a great gin selection and their wine options are excellent. For those who need initiation, a beer tasting tray and a similar exercise with gin is available.
Very relaxed and attentive but they warn that 45 minutes for burgers can be expected as everything is freshly made. So be ready to relax.
It resembles a contemporary beer hall with trestle tables and benches and a similar scenario outside. There’s both a smoking room and a Wi-Fi section and while weekend nights are dominated by students, Tuesdays to Fridays and Sunday lunches includes both a more general crowd and families.
Even if you're a non-beer drinker, this is a special place where quality and value for money take top honours. Two more venues are opening towards the end of the year and they also run the annual beer festival, which has moved from the Voortrekker Monument to the Botanical Gardens. It’s where it all began.
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Diane de Beer
As the name suggests, this spot is absolutely about the beer. But the quartet in charge has got the menu right, with brunch dishes including bacon and mushrooms served on lightly toasted sourdough (R45), halloumi and mushrooms (R45), and the rather telling Big Boy (R55), all of which are served until 1pm.
Then things get a tad more serious with delicious burgers, sandwiches, hotdogs, Southern-style smoked ribs (R90 for 500g), and salads. The latter are far from boring, however, with an option featuring grilled artichokes, shiitake mushrooms and sundried tomatoes served on baby spinach, rocket and lettuce with a rosemary and thyme dressing.
The burgers offer a great variety, from Blue Marrow (patty topped with bone marrow) at R60, a porcini burger for R79, and a Stiff Hot Joe, a twist on the Sloppy Joe, with patty smothered in mince, cheddar and mayo for R80. They serve fabulous onion rings and freshly made chips, too.
The quality and the innovation are exciting, especially because the beer is so overwhelming and you might not expect much from the cuisine. They warn you that preparation will take 45 minutes, but the ambience allows for kuier and nobody is too bothered.
They currently list 160 craft beers – and the number is growing. Newbies can start off with a tasting kit shared by an informative maître d’, who has a good time showing you the ropes. You can enjoy an escorted tour of their on-tap beers as well as their storage facilities. Even if your knowledge of ale is extremely limited, this is a great place to start. If you prefer wine, they have a small but strong selection, as well as some shots (homemade chilli tequila or a ‘melktertjie’), and a smart whiskey collection. This is student territory, so the menu and the drinks reflect that.
At the start of a week things are relatively gentle, but it can get hectic towards the weekends. The service is sweet, with waiters checking in at intervals.
Think of a contemporary beer hall and you’ll have the image. Tables can be shared, and the look is canteen chic: well-designed and inviting for a night of merriment. Student nights and weekends might be a bit raucous, but there’s more than enough space to select a quieter spot if you choose to go during the day on a Sunday as a family or earlier in the week.
You’ll be in heaven if craft beer is your thing. If it’s not, this is the place to learn.