It’s not often that you get to meet a legend. A jolly nice chap, maybe, and the occasional stellar lady – but an actual legend is a real rarity. I was giggly and uncharacteristically girly as we set off for the tenth brewery on the list for our new book on South African beer. The Bridge Street Brewery is sleek and sexy, its beers infinitely drinkable and its manager affable and welcoming. But for none of these reasons was I grinning like a teenager about to meet her idol. You see, the beers at Bridge Street have been made by a legend, a guru, the godfather of craft beer in South Africa, if you will (and I’m quite sure you will). The brewer at Bridge Street is of course, Lex Mitchell. Enough said. (Or if that isn’t enough – Lex founded Mitchell’s , SA’s first microbrewery, in 1983, has over three decades of brewing experience behind him and owns the cutest homebrew setup in the country, guaranteed).
So what about the bar? Well, it’s stylish, it’s perpetually rammed and the massive demand for the trio of beers is forcing its legendary brewer to brew no less than five times a day (until the larger set-up arrives that is). Bridge Street is also the Eastern Cape’s answer to Banana Jam, with bottled beers from Darling Brew and & Union and draft taps not only featuring Lex’s delectable house brews but also Mitchell’s (makes sense), SAB and in the very near future, Jack Black. And just what are the house beers like? Well I’ll leave you to discover the perfect pilsner and brilliant bitter yourself. As for the double chocolate stout, just visualise 70% cocoa Lindt chocolate in beer form and you’ll be pretty close. Chocolate heaven meets beer heaven, leaving Lucy uncharacteristically speechless.
If you want the full story on Bridge Street, you’ll have to keep an eye out for South Africa’s first dedicated beer book, African Brew (shameless punt – yes, I am the author). Or I suppose you could just drop in for a visit…
Bridge Street Brewery
1 Bridge Street, Brickmaker’s Kloof, Port Elizabeth
Open daily 11am-11pm.