“A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. ” Wikipedia
Winter Solstice is where the Sun is at it’s lowest point, resulting in a VERY short day and a VERY long night. It also indicates that SUMMER is on it’s way, THAT is reason enough to celebrate. Solstice celebration is all about celebrating the bounty of nature in food and barley. The father of the Solstice beer festival, Dirk van Tonder has been celebrating this event for the past eight years with exquisite beer and good food! This year is only the third time we attended the event and it was out of this world. The event was very professionally organized and the atmosphere was eclectic. The best brewers in South Africa were there with amazing beer on tap. We did however, miss the smaller brewers that participated in the previous years.
GOOD BEER, GOOD FOOD together with GOOD MUSIC is what makes a GOOD FESTIVAL. Solstice did not disappoint with any of these!! You could sip your beer and eat your taco to the sounds of the Bluesman or put your food and beer down and rock to the unique sound of an old favorite, Haggis and Bong! There were music and medieval fights throughout the day. There was a nice variety of food stalls providing anything from gourmet burgers to tacos!
Last but not least, let’s talk about the BEER! Winter calls for STOUT and I must say that all the stout that was sold at the festival, was of international quality. The new kids on the block, Just Brewing Co. had their Coffee Chocolate stout on tap – though still very tasty, a little less punch than what we tasted at the Cambridge Food Festival a week before. The problem with small new breweries, lies in the consistency of their product but I am convinced that the young brewer from Just Brewing Co will get there soon. Andre from The Cockpit also had his amazing Black Widow stout on tap and Dog&Fig their Clarens 2014 winning Stewige Stout BUT then there was my favorite stout, the WILLY WONKA, brewed by Danie Odendaal from SA Breweries World of Beer. I tasted it the year before and nagged Danie and Dirk every time I saw either of them to reproduce the beer. It did not disappoint. They even brought a new sister beer, the Cream Ale which had a strong caramel smell and taste! Though your over-the-counter SAB beer is NOT craft beer, these two beers are well worth marketing. Their Winter beer was less successful, according to my palette but combined with the Willy Wonka to make a Wondering Willy, it was quite enjoyable.
Wim van Vuuren from Liquorcity Groenkloof, stockists of the biggest variety of SOUTH AFRICAN craft beer were promoting Devil’s Peak’s IPA, which was by far the best IPA at the festival. The Agar’s brothers had THE best German beer. The Black Horse and Copperlake both produced PINK DRINKS for the non-beer-drinking individuals.
We also got our courage together to finally taste some of Roeks of Magollywoods’ beer out of the off-putting green plastic containers they have at all the festivals. It was surprisingly nice and one of Jakes’ favourites looks like he used Hartebeespoortdam water to brew with! His Perky Peach and Raspberry beer was extremely popular with the ladies.
Our other regulars included The Chameleon Brewery with our favorite IRA, The Ale House with Dirk’s signature Buchu beer, The Keg House with Vincent’s Pumpkin Beer which I am building up the courage to taste – maybe next time Vince. I just can’t picture Sunday lunch in my beer.
A few other new brewers were the guys from Swagga with their Swagga Red and their Swagga Blond and the Harrits brewers with their Blond Blond and Red. We are looking forward to seeing then at future shows.
WELL DONE DIRK VAN TONDER! Solstice was an awesome experience and a well planned and executed event. We are looking forward to Solstice 2015 if we can’t convince you to have a SUMMER SOLSTICE on 21 December!