Clarens Craft Beer Festival 27-28 February 2015

So once again it was time for the Oppikoppi of Beer Festivals.

CLARENS 1 Clarens 2

This was our third attendance.  It will not be our last.

Once again, Stefan and his team organized a slick event. Not even some rain on both afternoons could dampen the enthusiasm of the 5000-odd beer lovers. The vibe was great, the music excellent, and most of the beers were sublime.

We were happy to see 3 new Cape brewers at the festival: Riot Factory, Lakeside and Honingklip.

With the craft beer industry in the Western Cape being so competitive, these new attendees didn’t disappoint us at all. In fact, they served up some of the best beers of the weekend.

Riot Factory has only been operational for A YEAR, yet they served three of our best beers of the festival, and they even featured in the competition.

Riot Factory

First up was their S1mcoe IPA: great citrus aroma and flavour from this SMaSH (Single Malt, Single Hops) beer, and it scored a 3rd place at the show. No mean feat, considering the competition! They rated this at 80 IBUs, and we think this was a little optimistic. But the flavour balance was great, a truly memorable IPA with a killer hops punch.

Then the less intimidating Valve IPA: more of a session IPA with less of a hops kick, but still a lovely beer.

Lastly their Vixon Plum Porter: We rated this a strong 7 out of 10, purely because of the fact that they had brewed a decent, balanced porter with recognizable plum flavours.

May Riot Factory go on to achieve great things. (Thanks for the idea for those taps, guys).

Second place in the Festival competition was taken by Smack! Republic with their Nut Brown Ale, which was truly a wonderful departure from the usual beer style line-up at Clarens.

Also, their laser-cut tap layout was truly awesome.

Smack republic

First place was That Brewery with their AM Stout. An excellent rendition of the style. Well done to all.

A few other beers also deserve a mention from us.

First up was Cockpit Brewery’s Trippel : WOW! Beware this beer, it’s no slouch when it comes to ABV. Not too sour, lovely Belgian flavours, followed by the wonderfully strong alcohol aftertaste.

I certainly hope that we see this available at the Cockpit from now on.

Second up was Mtunzini’s Chilli Ale: SHOOOWEEEE!!  luckily we love chilli. We mixed this ale half-and-half with the Keghouse’s Chilli Choc Stout for a really awesome combo beer. (Vincent, don’t be so shy on the chilli next time bud).

We came away with some mixed feelings about the festival, however.

Good points:
–    Excellently organised as usual
–    We like the extra seating and the rearrangement of the tent layouts to have brewers on one side only and benches on the other
–    Great bands and musicians
–    Brilliant idea to force the brewers to submit a totally new brew for the competition

Less good points:
–    Why much fewer brewers than previous years? Is profit more important than visibility?
–    Why close the taps so early? The bands were still playing long after the beer stopped flowing. Surely this wasn’t an event licence issue?
–    Why no hydration stations?
–    Why no pre-show screening & tasting? Two of the brewers had beers that were exhibiting off flavours and aromas.  A newbie attendee could come away with really negative feelings about craft beer.

Will we be back?
Try keep the Beersluts away! Clarens rocks!

clarens tent


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