Surprisingly enough, I actually haven’t been to a beer fest for a while. Normally, we enjoy all our new brews at our bar at home. Mostly because we get them delivered and because, safety. But who can actually resist a festival with 28 craft beer & cider breweries in one place on a warm winter Saturday? Not I.
So we made our way to Pretoria at the crack of dawn (Saturday times…) ready to sample and drink some of the finest beers in the country. The first thing that got in the way was the car queue on the way in. At 10:45ish, it was already very long. But never mind, we persisted. We parked and made our way past a Mountain Bike race – way to make a girl feel unhealthy – and found the entrance to the festival. Then we saw the queue… It was, ahem, daunting to say the least, and cruel because to get to the back you had to walk uphill past a blind corner. So just as you think you’re reaching the top of it, it continued. Nevertheless, we got to the end of it and slowly made our way back down to the entrance. This took an hour. No jokes. It was really the only thing that (nearly) spoilt an amazing day, and Capital Craft really should do something about it for next year.
Once we were in, there were so many stalls that we actually had to just take a breath, look at our map and decide on a spot. We decided to quickly grab a Hillbrow Honey by SMACK! and settle on a blanket to figure out the rest of our strategy. I didn’t even take a photo of the beer, since I was just dying to drink it. That Hillbrow Honey was a fantastic start to the day – rooibos and vanilla notes, with some litchi on the nose. Just light enough for a pre-noon drink but flavourful enough for us to want to taste everything else Capital Craft had on offer.
So after deciding that we’d just move from 1 to 28, skipping breweries that we are very familiar with, we walked 3 steps to Chameleon’s stand. I had the Oatmeal Stout, while Ash had the Irish Red Ale. Both were really good. We tasted their whole range, but those two stood out.
Then we moved on to the Dog & Fig to taste what they had on offer. To be honest, I was bitterly disappointed in their brews. Their Buchu, a distinctively South African beer just tasted weird (I honestly can’t describe it – maybe sour and off?) and the rest of their range wasn’t much better. They’re acclaimed by SAB (smell a rat too?) but I don’t understand why. Also, the stand operator (owner?) wasn’t very friendly…
So we moved on to Clarens. I had never actually tasted their beers before (despite having gone to Clarens… weird I know) but I don’t think I’ll try them again. I’m not sure whether the breweries water down their beer before coming to a festival, or if it’s the old bottle v. tap debate, but nothing stood out there. I tried the Red Ale, Ash had the blonde.
So we went to Cockpit. I’d never heard of them before but was really quite impressed with them. Their taps were beautifully branded and they had a wide variety. I tried their Black Widow Stout and Ash had their Hellcat Vienna APA – which was brewed just for Capital Craft. Both were actually great. Personally, I was really impressed with the Hellcat – fruity, refreshing and delicious.
Soon after that, we met up with our friend Brett from Joburg Brew. We started back at SMACK! but headed to Copperlake (I love their Dark Lager), CBC and Black Horse. Brett and his aunt and uncle stood in a queue for Soweto Gold… despite me warning them otherwise! :-p Soweto Gold is really not worth the queue.
We ended up having a long chat about the history of Trappist beers over a La Trappe blonde. What a beer.
Ok, so enough with the long read. Let’s get down to the facts:
Number of Beers tasted: 14 (not all full/ half pints but probably more than this if we count tasters)
Best Beer/s: Harvest Lager by CBC, Newtown Nemesis by SMACK!, Oatmeal Stout and Irish Red Ale by Chamelon
Worst Beers: Clarens Blonde, Clarens Red, Dog & Fig Buchu
Highlights: Hanging out with JoburgBrew
Regrets: Not getting to all the stalls. 😦
I was really disappointed at Darling’s range on the day. They only brought their Slow and Native ales. I would have loved to taste some of the seasonal and rarer brews.
Our next event is Solstice on the 27th of June. If you’re going, chat to me over Facebook, Twitter or here and we’ll meet up for a beer! Don’t forget the hippy theme 🙂