Festival season is definitely in full swing. Up here in Joburg, we saw The Green Craft Beer Fest as well as Capital Craft a week apart. We’ll get to Capital Craft, but let’s talk about The Green for a minute.
The journey began with a craft-focused bar at Benoni country club, hence the name. The idea of the owners was to open up a place that they would want to hang out at (not a club, not a pub) and it needed to be in the East Rand (a necessity I appreciate – there’s very few places on this side to enjoy a wide range of beer.) The Benoni bar has been pumping for well over a year now, and they opened up their second bar in Modderfontein late last year.
What I like about The Green – Modderfontein is my local – is that it’s super chilled, has great food and the beer stocks change regularly. There is a big bias to the brewers who use The Tap Room (as distributors) for their draught beer, so despite a respectable 12 taps, you don’t necessarily find all your faves on tap, but the bottle fridge is packed full of great brews from around the country.
What I really like about The Green is that they’re opening up bars in typically ignored places. Their first two, Benoni and Modderfontein take care of a fairly large catchment area in the East Rand. Their 3rd venue, coming later this year is in Glenvista. I’m sure the craft geeks from the South are praising someone right now.
See, in Joburg, all the good stuff is in the central and north areas of our massive city (cities?). From the Parks (Parkhurst, Parktown North etc) to Fourways, there are loads of great places to enjoy a beer. Pretoria is covered nicely. Not so much in the East Rand. We mostly have bars that are trying to jump onto the bandwagon but with no passion or even knowledge about what they’re serving. Case in point, at an unnamed bar/restaurant in the East: I ask what they have on tap. The waiter says: “Lumberjack, First Light and CBC”. So I ask which CBC they have on tap, and he says: “CBC”. Okay then… I had First Light.
So it’s really awesome for East Rand folks like me to finally have an option. There still aren’t enough good craft bars, and the bottle stores are sadly lacking, but it’s a start. The Green is awesome and not just because of it’s location.
So last year they held the inaugural Green Craft Beer Fest. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it (we really need to talk about everything being in June…) but this year I swung past just for a couple of hours. I couldn’t stick around for all the best festivities (beer pong world record anyone?) but got a good taste of what the fest is about.
Firstly, as with most fests, it’s not simply about beer. There’s a whole lot of talk about whether that’s the right approach, but I’m not going to cover that today. These fests have become events for music, food trucks, craft beer as well as craft liquor.
This year the set up was fairly simple – stage in the front, beer on the left hand side, food & hard tac on the right while the entertainment and sitting areas were in the middle. It made for a really easy flow. I spent most (okay, all) of my time on the beer side.
I made my rounds through the brews on offer: again, most were part of the Tap Room network, only two weren’t. We saw the likes of Darling, Mad Giant, Two Okes, Stimela, Smack! Republic, Devil’s Peak, Drifter, Alpha, Poison City, Aces and Growler.
I had lekker long chats with almost all the brewers. We spoke about all sorts – from the way festivals are run to why brewers don’t seem to want to pay for education. A typical day out then :-p I had an interesting chat with the guys from Darling – I asked them why they always bring their “original” beers, like the Slow, rather than trying to get word out on all the new ones. Apparently they’re told by the organisers (not necessarily The Green, but by various festival organisers) what to bring. I think that’s bollocks. Brewers should have autonomy on their sales. It’s their business after all.
Overall, I had a great time. I tried a good few beers and even Drifter’s Buchu Gin & Tonic. I can’t get over Buchu – I just don’t like that stuff. My faves of the day were Stimela’s Amber ale, Two Okes’ Stout and Mad Giant’s IPA (Urban Legend).
East Rand folks – go like The Green over on Twitter, Facebook (Benoni), Facebook (Modderfontein) and even Instagram. They’ve got all sorts of fabulous events – backgammon, quiz nights etc. every week. Otherwise, pull in for a beer. I might just see you in Modders.
*I have unashamedly used pics from the official photographer of the day to show you the fun – mostly because the fest really only picked up after 12/1pm and I left at 1pm. The credit for most pics (the good ones) goes to: Julian Van Jaarsveld.