The days when having a cold one involved little more than cracking open a Castle around a braai fire are long gone. Although often still considered more casual than wine, beer has become a serious contender as drink of choice on the fine dining scene around the world. And South Africa is leading the way.
“There are about 160 micro-brewers in South Africa,” says Stuart Thompson, former beverage sector analyst and co-founder of Loxton Lager, “Admittedly, not all of them economically viable,” he laughs.
“I wanted to contribute something that was lighter in alcohol than wine, with a full sensory experience in terms of aromas and taste, and that was evocative of our region and its landscape – our terroir if you like” he says. “I draw a lot of inspiration from the Southern African region and its heritage, and the local ingredients we have to work with.”
Only in its fifth year on the market, Loxton Lager’s background is a richly textured story – testament to its creator’s deeply considered approach to brewing. How this lager earned its name, for instance, is a story in itself. If you draw a triangle between the three regions from whence Stuart sources his key ingredients – mountain fynbos, Karoo herbs and honey – its centroid falls exactly seven metres west of the church steeple in Loxton, a small town in the Bo-Karoo north of Beaufort West.
Another delightful fact about Loxton Lager is that the etchings on their branded glasses and other merchandise – the icons circling their logo – illustrate the complete recipe, as graphical depictions of the ingredients within.
Loxton’s fineness, balance, intriguing nose and palate, and crisp finish compete with some of the most notable fine wines.
Its all-malt body (imported Crystal and local malts) is balanced with Southern Star hops, enhanced with fynbos honey and aromatic wild herbs which provide a great evocation of landscape.
"Loxton is a flavour-intense journey," says Stuart, "with many culinary notes such as berry, rosemary, fennel and also floral tones from the fynbos and honey – and then a subtle bitter finish." It pairs well with most meat dishes, and also creamy risottos, grilled Kingklip and soft cheeses like brie and camembert with fresh figs.