Alcohol- Sunday Stills

I ride the Argus Cycle race around Table Mountain every year, (missed this year’s race for the first time in 20 years!)  And over the time I have developed some traditions of my own.

After finishing the 110 km race, I usually go to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront of CApe Town, where I usually park my car.  On my way from the finish line to the parking lot, I stop at Ferrymans Tavern- one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. A pub with some old history behind it…


I see I actually don’t have many photos of Ferrymans… I am usually so very tired after that Cycle race…

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But one of my favorite beers in the world resides here. Ferryman’s belongs to Mitchells Breweries. And one of their brews is the Bosun’s Bitter. It only contains about 4% alcohol, but it is really a tasty, grainy beer…


There is another story behind the Bosun’s Bitter. I drink it as a toast to my dad.

We did not always have a great relationship. After I finished university, I had to go to the army as all white young men in South Africa had to do.  When I finished Army, I had a temporary post at a congregation in the Free State. In that time my uncle was murdered in Durban. This uncle was a real mentor for me since a very young age. We met as a family in Durban, and went to my uncle’s funeral. That evening, my father and I went to a pub, just us two. We sat down in a pub, and had a beer or two together. Mitchell’s Bosun’s Bitter. And we talked like real men to each other, and we had a very constructive father and son experience.  The next day we all went home- he and my mother to Newcastle, me and my 7 month pregnant wife to Kroonstad.

I never saw him alive again. Two weeks later he died of a massive heart attack at the age of 54.

Mitchell’s Bosun’s Bitter is a rare beer to find these days in South Africa. The Keg franchise of pubs kept it for years, but I don’t see it there anymore. In Cape Town, I find it at Ferryman’s and at my other favorite watering hole… the Blue Peter Hotel in Bloubergstrand (where I had my honeymoon 24 years ago…)



This is also a beautiful place to see the sun setting over Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, and over the Atlantic Ocean.


Each time I drink a Bosun’s Bitter, I think of my dad. Sometimes with great regrets. For now I am 7 years younger than he was when he died. I understand much better these days… and I try to connect with my sons in meaningful ways, that they may have memories of me one day to treasure. Hopefully more than one beer…


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