The craft beer revolution has seriously taken South Africa by storm and it seems as though there are more aspiring brewers in our midst than we first expected. What we now have is a diversity of entrepreneurs showcasing their inventiveness with their take on pilsners, ales, stouts and lagers and, although some of the results are, at best, interesting, the majority of these craft brewers really have things down.
The culmination of all of this took place in Sandton this past weekend where craft brewers and gourmet food artisans gathered at Sandton Sports Club to show off what they've been working on.
We were greeted by hay bale seats and more than enough shady, covered areas to unwind in. I got there pretty early and, although the crowd was still small, it added to the laidback atmosphere where everyone from cool kids to families relaxed and took in some sun before the clouds started to threaten. After a brief shower, which didn't dampen anyone's mood, things started to get into gear with a two-man cover band playing everything from MGMT to Counting Crows. With the use of loops, a guitar and sax they really brought something special with their take on some classic songs and if they can get going on original material they'll be something to look out for. I'd tell you about the other bands but I ended up drinking more beer than I'd care to say and... let's just leave it at that.
As the day wore on and we tried out the various brews on offer, never having the same one twice, things stayed chilled and calm. I soon realised that this wasn't going to be the same sort of experience I've had at beer fests in the past, where calling it raucous would be a bit of an understatement. All-in-all I had Aces, Devil's Peak, Jack Black, Soweto Gold, Striped Horse and even tried my hand at not getting shocked by Copperlake's highly entertaining metal sign, which you had to navigate with a wand at the risk of getting shocked to try and win a free beer, even if I failed miserably. The food on offer looked good too but I've got a thing against eating at events, no matter how stupid that sounds, and opted to spend my cash on drinks instead, even sneaking in a tequila (just one) because of how highly priced they were. In retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea, considering that it was a family-friendly event.
Full on beer and having soaked up the sun for the entire day, we decided to make our way home and, when standing on the embankment overlooking the festival, were surprised by how many people were actually there. We hadn't noticed but the crowd had grown larger and larger throughout the day and the brewers must have had the time of their lives, always willing to engage in conversation and explain their beers with a high degree of knowledge. It's something that really adds to the whole vibe when a person is willing to take the time to go the extra mile above and beyond just selling you a drink and waiting for the next customer.
It was a successful day out and I'd definitely recommend this sort of festival to anyone interested in either having a chilled day out with some tasty beer or those of you who want to get your weekend started off pretty well.
by Daniel McCaughtry