Cici and I worked up quite a thirst navigating our way down the Vaal River. Conveniently for us, the Dog & Fig Brewery is just a few hundred meters away from Earth Adventures along Kopjeskraal Road in Parys. The brewery is set atop a broad grassy hill with stunning views of the Vredefort dome mountains to the northwest. From the parking lot, a large but simple industrial structure gives way to an eclectic indoor/outdoor drinking and dining area in the back.
One of the first things I noticed upon entering was a waitress carrying a tray with sample-size beer glasses. As a beer connoisseur (I really just like trying as many new beers as possible), the availability of beer flights is my most crucial criterion for a brew pub. Dog & Fig delivered in this respect and many others. After sitting down at one of the many shaded picnic tables scattered about the garden, I didn’t hesitate to order the 6-drink taster flight which on this day included a pilsner, three unique ales, and two beer cocktails.
They did a great job on the pilsner, and of the ales, I enjoyed the Baldadige (Boisterous) Buchu the most. This ale was an herbed beer. It’s a style I am not very familiar with but seems to be popular in the South African craft beer world, with Loxton Lager coming to mind. Unfortunately, their flagship Stewige Stout and their Wafferse Weiss were out at the time, but their beer cocktails they served as substitutes in the flight were superb. One mixed an ale with a rooibos tea, while the other was an infusion of ginger (a LOT of ginger) and one of their lighter ales. Both very different from anything I’ve ever tried before, and both were delicious.
To complement our brews, we were helped out by some regulars who introduced themselves once they heard our American accents. Fascinated by our story and intent that we experience the best of South Africa, the friendly family gave us plenty of pointers for future travel destinations as well as the task at hand: what to order next. Cici ordered the cheeseburger while I landed on the pork ribs. The cherry on top, compliments of our new friends, was a tall glass of brandy and coke, essentially the official mixed drink of South Africans. My amazing wife Cici had driving home duties, so I thanked our new friends and took a big gulp of the brandy and coke for the first time. It was basically a whiskey and coke, but sweeter and with no real taste of alcohol. I could now understand why they were saying it was such a dangerous drink!
With the beers, brandy, and delicious food finished, we settled up the check and figured it was time to go. We were taking a peek at the indoor seating area, which featured beautiful local art on its walls, when one of the waitresses asked us if we wanted a quick tour of the brewing facilities. A few moments later we were greeted by a friendly, energetic man who took us to the brewing floor and walked us through the now-familiar steps of barley, wort, hops addition, fermentation, and bottling. Dog & Fig uses barley from South Africa, roasted lighter for the ales and lagers and darker for their stout. They buy hops from all over the world – Belgium, New Zealand, Washington State – and they manually hand bottle beers for distribution. Interestingly, they do not preserve or pasteurize their beers, which make for a cloudy, natural product that is pretty hard to come by these days.
While we didn’t get to try the Weiss or their heralded Stout, we were pleased to find out at the end of our tour that they would be taking these two beers to the SA On Tap Beer Festival in Johannesburg which we will be attending on April 9th. Look out for our review on those beers and many more from the festival in the future. And if you ever find yourself in Parys, which seems to be pretty popular getaway spot for citizens of Joburg, spending a sunny afternoon at the Dog & Fig Brewery is a must.
For more information, visit https://twitter.com/DogandFigBrews.