Okay okay, I know the hangover has long passed and you’re ready for the next festival – I know I am. But I thought I’d finally share some thoughts on the SA on Tap festival at Monte Casino recently.
I’d never been to any of the previous SA on Taps, so I had no real expectations (except awesome beer). A lot of people were not very happy about there being no grassy areas compared to previous versions. I did find that it was a helluva hot day with limited shade options, and if you wanted to sit down… well there really weren’t that many options because the crowd was so big. So that’s my criticism.
My praise must first go to the toilets. As a woman I’m used to having to wait for up to an hour to go to the loo while dreading beer induced kidney infections. This festival was jacked. There were no queues, plenty of toilets and they were nogal the fancy schmancy ones with proper light, proper flushers and no awful smells. Good job SA on Tap!
Ok, now onto the beer 🙂 As expected, I didn’t listen to my own advice at all…. I didn’t attack the stands slowly and with grace. No no, I had way too many hop infused vodka shots (thanks Drifter…) and got completely hammered, with no food. Oh well.
There were loads of new breweries amongst the usual favourites, and almost every brewery had a special festival beer (or 2) on tap. I tried not to have beers that I’d had before, but even so there were so many to choose from that it was impossible to try everything.
Amongst the “regulars”, the standouts for me were:
- The Keghouse’s Chilli Chocolate stout – what a remarkable beer that was. Yum.
- Standeaven’s watermelon lager. I don’t really like watermelon but it was a great beer for such a hot day. I love that brewers are playing with fruit infused lagers (see Drifter below) – it feels perfect for South Africa.
- Agar’s Tomahawk IPA. It’s my favourite beer on the market right now, and the recipe has been improved (never thought it was possible :-p)
A few of the new breweries on show included Drifter, Lions River, Mad Giant (ok, we know Mad Giant, but they went quiet while setting up shop in Joburg), Riot and Garagista. Besides Garagista I tried a beer or two from each of these guys.
From Drifter came a coconut infused pale lager, called the Stranded Coconut. I luuurv coconut, and obviously I love beer. I was a little nervous to see how it would turn out, but was amazed at how refreshing and delicious this little beaut was. A great session beer without being insipid. The coconut was not overpowering at all, it was more of a subtle finish. Wonderful stuff!
Now I have raved about Mad Giant’s True Grit (Amber Ale) before. It is awesome. What was more awesome was actually just meeting the guys and seeing what they’re up to. They released a Pilsner for the festival called the Guzzler – Ash really loved it. I only had one sip, but would definitely like to try it again. I had some of their Killer Hop pale ale, which is a fabulous sessionable pale ale. Perfectly balanced. Can’t wait to see Mad Giant at more festivals. BTW, their Weiss (the Electric Light) is also pretty awesome.
From Riot, I had a litchi lager. Another fruit infused lager; and another goodie. I typically don’t like litchi but as with the watermelon and coconut lagers, this is great for hot weather. Very refreshing. Riot had quite a few interesting beers on tap, like a Funky Nut IPA – I should have tried some of that too. They also had an Equinox IPA, but I wasn’t mad about it.
So we are now at my beer (and brewery) of the day: Lions River. I had heard from some friends that their Vanilla Porter was rock solid, so we made out way there to try just that. When we got there, they had all sorts of interesting brews on tap, but my attention was caught by the American Brown Ale. Now, I wasn’t really sure what an American Brown Ale was, to be honest – was it some sort of hopped up Brown Ale? (we all know the ‘mericans love their hops). Well, basically that’s what it was. It was something like a black IPA but not as toasty. It was full bodied, with a great malt base and enough hop bitterness to keep you wanting more. So that, ladies and gents, was my beer of the day! Oh, their vanilla porter was delicious too – really.