Saturday 29 March 2014 and the two Beer Sluts were already dressed and ready for some serious beer tasting early in the morning, when work interrupted the day. At first we thought we won’t be able to go at all but then came the breakthrough in desperation of a few cold ones and we were off to the Old Parktonian Sports Grounds in Randburg where the festival was held. It was a lovely clear day and the whole of Gauteng seemed to be there. Outside the gate, two traffic police vehicles served as a warning to drink responsibly. I initially thought it was quite sly waiting outside a beer festival but we later learned that they actually arrested a couple of car hunters, so good job guys! They were distributing breathalysers as you leave the festival coupled with the UBER cab service, everybody could get home safely.
Although all our favourite breweries were there with enough of a selection to lure us into their queues, we decided to stick to our plan and first taste the new breweries’ beer. Aces, Black Horse, Brauhaus am Dam, Chameleon, Clarens (IPA won best beer of the festival), Cockpit, Copperlake, De Grave, Draymans, Old Main, Robsons, Standeaven, Three Skulls and Everson, which is a Cider producer, are all breweries we are more than familiar with.
The first new brewery we haven’t seen at a show was Backwards Bean Brewery who had The Beagle and Wishing well on tap. The Beagle is a Premium Bitter beer and had a nice malt aroma and taste with reasonably low hops notes. It is definitely a good session beer. The Wishing well, a Robust Porter was finished by the time we got there and was replaced by an APA, which was not as good as the ones we have from the older breweries. We will keep an eye on them.
Though we had the Dog&Fig beer at previous festivals, they didn’t brew their prize winning Stewige Stout at Clarens, so we HAD to try it. It is really a smooth, very well balanced stout. No wonder it won an award.
The next new brewery was Kaya Brewery from Bloemfontein, who we saw at Clarens but never got around to tasting their beer. We had the Freyer stout and their Rustic Rooibos ale. The Rustic Rooibos ale is a drinkable, light ale with a distinct Rooibos tea taste and a bit of a tea-tannin aftertaste. The Freyer stout is a robust oatmeal stout with very strong roast flavours.
Vincent from The Keghouse was there advertising his brew store and having a few beers on tap. He had the Keghouse Jolly Pumpkin Ale, the American Pale Ale, Keghouse Chai and then the one we tasted, the Keghouse Bottle Blonde.
It was time for something to eat and we had to decide which of the queues we were going to stand in. The food stands were placed very cleverly in the center of the grounds with gourmet sandwiches, boerie rolls, gourmet chips and what we thought was a good accompaniment to the beer, samoosas of various types. It was unfortunately sold out and we had to wait for a couple of hours before they restocked. The food suppliers had underestimated the number of beer drinkers by far.
THAT Brewing Company did an amazing job in marketing. Everybody had a sticker or a TShirt with “I’d Tap THAT” on! We had THAT APA and THAT Red which was really not THAT memorable. We’ll give them another go at the next festival.
It was great to see Brian Stewart of the Shongweni Brewery aka Robsons Real Beer, in person at the festival. Pity I left Lucy Corne’s African Brew book at home! I would’ve loved for Brian to sign the book! His son, Donn, is normally at the festivals. Robsons Hammer of Thor, nearly knocked us over! WOW! What a beer. We were nearly ready to head home after one of those but decided to stick to the plan!
The last brewery to taste was Brewhogs with the lovely Apiwe, pouring us a Pilsner and a Red Lager. Though both were very nice beers, I couldn’t believe that I picked the PILSNER as the better of the two. I nearly dislike a Pilsner as much as a Weiss because of it’s lingering bitterness after every sip. This Pilsner has got the most amazing flavour considering it is a German lager, which are not known for their maltiness. We were invited to their launch on the 5th April but could unfortunately not attend due to a previous engagement. We will definitely make our way to Kayalami to see how they restored the brewing equipment they found in a warehouse in Garankuwa, to the condition that they are in, and OF COURSE to have some more Pilsner!!!
OH LAST BUT NOT LEAST!! Copperlake Brewery, were selling PINK DRINKS! We all know that REAL men don’t drink pink drinks, and REAL beer chicks neither! I could not get myself to have one of the Copperlake coolers but it seems like shirtless hunks giving out balloons throughout the day, got a couple of people queuing for one!
I just love craft beer festivals! It gives me a chance to drink ALL of my favourite beer and get exposed to new breweries and styles! Keep it going SA on Tap! It was a GREAT festival!!