Over the weekend, we attended the annual Capital Craft fest at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens. It’s fast become one of my favourite festivals of the year (even though last year’s fest had some dismal points) and I really looked forward to seeing friends and brewers alike.
We started off the day by hopping onto a Take you There bus at Monte Casino. Lemme tell you – what a great idea. It was running a bit late (which made a couple of people slightly grumpy), but once we were on the bus, it was magic. We had Copperlake Light Lager on tap and an hour or so to chat to new friends. There were only 6 of us on that shuttle, which seems like an awful waste of space but it was truly the best way to start the day. Next year (and for all festivals in future) I hope that Take you There will be repeating this offer.
So after the queue drama of last year (both the car queue and then the terrible wait to get in), I was quietly cynical about what time we’d actually get in. But… there were no queues. Literally. At first I thought it was a joke, and that we’d gotten through just the first check easily. But it turns out, that was the entrance. We picked up our glasses at the next stop (along with tokens) and couldn’t believe that it was that simple. I cannot express my praise enough to Capital Craft for that level of organisation. It was such an improvement.
Ok, onto the beer. We took a look around at the map and at the venue. We wanted to say hi to some of the brewers we know, so we stopped at Stimela first and tried their Coltraine – a cherry, smoked, barrel aged ale (collab with Friar’s Habit). It was very heavy on the smoke for me – very much a rauch style. It could have done with a little more body and sweetness in my opinion. But hell – I’m glad we started with an interesting beer!
We moved on to Two Okes, chatted to Hennie and Ruth about their festival brew: a spicy butternut porter. Clearly, the winter styles were dominating the day (even though it was actually scorching hot). We had just a taste of it, and got an imperial stout, which is always style I enjoy.
After taking a look around at the rest of the stands, and checking out what was on offer, we started bumping into all sorts of bloggers and beer characters. We met up with Brett from Joburg Brew, Holger from the Beer Book, Apiwe of Brewster’s Craft and Brewhogs as well as our usual buddies Shae, Regardt from Craft Nation and Ivor from Kleurlingbierman. It was a full house in terms of industry names. Later on we also hung out with Karl and Greg from Beer Country who basically couldn’t believe how well supported the festival was. It kinda made me feel proud of the Jozi/Pretoria beer scene, and how it’s grown.
Anyway, let’s get to some of the beers tasted. We did not (by any stretch) reach all the brewers. And we still only had one beer that we’d tried before.. which is a massive win.
Here’s some of the brews tried:
- Jack Black Pilsner – definitely a pilsner, would love to try it again.
- Devil’s Peak 667 – the special collab amber ale aged in Jameson casks. Marvellous stuff- but heavy on the whiskey for sure.
- Stimela Coltraine – very smokey, and I can see some beer nerds loving it. It wasn’t my favourite but it was definitely interesting.
- Cockpit Mustang IPA – decent but definitely not my favourite of the day
- Cockpit English Ale – also, not my favourite but on the right day it could be great!
- Two Okes Imperial Stout – delicious. Would be better on a freezing day
- Riot Hop Bomb (IPA?) – sweet and pretty hoppy, but not my favourite from them
- Riot Equinox IPA – much much better than at SA on Tap. I reckon the age did it well. Very good.
- Soweto Gold Stout – It had an interesting taste to it. It’s not a typical stout, and it might find a fan base but I wasn’t loving it.
- Striped Horse Pale Ale – I was impressed! Would love to try it again, but I’m glad that Striped Horse are experimenting more.
- Anvil Ale’s Mjõlnir (IPA) – what an awesome beer. I am well impressed. Also, it was a lot of the blogger/big names favourite of the day.
But my beer of the day went to the Spicy Butternut Porter from Two Okes. I was on the fench because the Mjõlnir was pretty damn awesome. But… simply for the fact that Two Okes put together a winter beer that isn’t traditional, I rated it higher. As much as we all love IPA, I like to try interesting combinations at a festival. It’s where the brewers can really test new recipes, and move away from their usual brews. So … #beeroftheday duly goes to Two Okes porter. What a great beer. It’s like Christmas cake.
There was a great vibe to the festival, and it was truly awesome seeing a slightly shaken up mix of brewers. Redrock (previously Brickfields) have expanded and made an appearance, Growler, Anvil and African Beer Emporium (while technically not a brewer, since they import African beer) were all there and it was wonderful to see some new faces amongst the well knowns.
Cheers to the next one!