City Craft Beer Project

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With Cape Town having put on her best late summer frock (read: bloody boiling hot), it was the perfect day for beer drinking. Set in a rather hot concrete (parking) lot behind The River Club in Obz, it was relief to get into the (relative) cool of the shade under the huge Bedouin tent that contained what we were there for: the beer and its brewers.

It was the City Craft Beer Project, brought to us by the fabulous boys of The Craft Beer Project – fifteen breweries in one place with the to-be-expected plethora of bearded hipsters looking hotly cool in their skinny pants next to their other hipster friends wearing shorter pants to show off the tattoos on their calves. This, it seems, is the latest in hipster cool.

Hipsters aside, it was a good, diverse crowd with a sprinkling of young families and granny and grandpa-types amongst it. At R80 in, it’s a certain ‘kind’ that come to these things. While I’m on the pricing, let me have my one little whinge: paying for tastings. For R80 entrance, and presumably the aim of increasing the ever-expanding  craft beer following, paying for a beer tasting is pushing it. Charge for full (or even half) glasses, sure, but for a tasting? That’s just not cricket (not that I should mention cricket at this point in South Africa. Sniff.) Whinge over.

The beer was great and it’s always fun to be able to taste a whole bunch of different beers in one place while people-watching and listening to some fabulous live music, Natasha Meister playing a perfect soundtrack for an afternoon’s beer drinking.

First stop was Savage Beer, where I tasted the Berliner Weiss. For some reason they squirted some red syrup – I’m assuming grenadine, but the guy wasn’t particularly forthcoming, and I, uncharacteristically, got shy, so didn’t ask – into the glass before pouring the tasting in. This made it sickly sweet and not terribly nice. [Edit: See comment from the brewer, below, in the replies. Pity I didn’t taste both versions. Silly me. Will let you know the verdict when I taste it alone…] The Savage Black, however, was dark and rich and delicious.

I was tempted by the cider at Everson’s – the boys behind the bar looked like they were having such fun (take note, brewers, your bar people at these things can hugely influence your exposure.) I resisted, because I’ve tasted it before and wanted to keep ‘space’ for some newbies.

And then I found my new favourite: Red Sky’s Tweetybird (see pic above). I’ve never claimed to be a craft beer guru, as I’ve said repeatedly, I’m a Castle Lite fan (shock! horror!), but that won’t stop me from developing my craft beer taste-buds. I’ve come a long way since that first introduction. I even know what IPA stands for now, and its history.

I will freely admit that it was the name of this beer that attracted me. I’m a sucker for names or, words, really. Same applies to Wild Clover’s fabulously named Blind Mole, which I also missed this time, due to having tried it before. I stray. The Tweetybird – beautifully deep orange colour and refreshing as a summer beer should be. Delicious.

I forced myself not to just get a full Tweetybird and retire to one of the long tables to people-watch and continued on to Riot, with its terribly cool, terribly lovely people behind the bar. I wasn’t sure of the fruitiness of their beers, but the people were so nice that they’re on my ‘Breweries to Visit’ list. Their beers deserve some further tasting.

And on to Brewdog, where we tasted the Punk IPA. It was a hoppy experience.  Like a punk in a mosh-pit. See what I did there? They were also offering Fuller’s London Pride which, according to the dude there, sells like hot cakes here. I should’ve asked more questions – it seems perhaps their beers are all imported from the UK. Despite a fairly rigorous (okay, Sunday morning sort of rigorous) web search, I still am unsure. Their Stalkbook ‘About’ says little, and their website link shows a blank WordPress site. As I said, I was silly, I should’ve chatted some more. I’m a fan of supporting local, the source is important.

I was hoping to taste Devil’s Peak’s cherry beer – brought out on Valentine’s Day and called My Bloody Valentine – but they didn’t have any. I’ll have to go and check if there’s any left at The Taproom. Don’t tell me it’s finished, please, even though I’m sure it is. Any excuse to go there and I’m happy.

At this point we became overcome by heat and had to retire to a table with friends we’d bumped into – one showcasing this fantastic footwear (below). He has a pair of ‘leopard print Adidas’ too. There’s two words I never expected to hear used next to each other: Adidas and leopard. I sat enjoying my full Tweetybird, watching the crowd and listening to the buzz of a happy beer crowd.FullSizeRender[1]

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4 Responses to City Craft Beer Project

  1. David Savage says:

    Hey Navel Gazer
    Just responding to the red syrup in the Berliner Weiss. I am sorry an explanation was not forthcoming from the guy at the stand (could have been myself or Mike). It was getting quite busy at one point and we were struggling to keep up. The red stuff was a raspberry syrup and we were giving people the chance to have the sour weiss served “mit schusse” or with syrup, which is a traditional german way of doing it. You should have been given a choice of how you wanted it served along with an explanation – sorry about that. Many tried it with and without to draw a comparison. If you like I can get you a bottle to try at your leisure.
    I am pleased that you enjoyed the Savage Black – it’s something new we are experimenting with.
    Regards
    David Savage

    • Thanks, David! Was my silliness, too, not to ask, and then I got irritated by a bloke standing next to me sniggering about my looking at all your beers before deciding what to taste, with some snide ‘chicks can’t decide if there are too many options…’ comment. Sigh. Not your fault at all, and I’ll edit the blog now and refer to your comment. I’d love to try it sans syrup (I’m not a fan of sweet, although I’ve been known to drink lime in my beer in my younger years (read: varsity days, a while (ahem) ago)).
      Briony.

  2. beerclubsa says:

    Hi, great article. 2 things:

    1) Fullers (England) and Brewdog (Scotland) are both very definitely British but are great craft and should be tried none the less. If you want a great local porter, Red Sky’s Vampire Porter hits the spot, and for a fantastic local IPA, Devil’s Peak’s Kings Blockhouse or Woodstock’s Californicator are my top 2 by quite a margin.

    2) Last time I checked, Devil’s Peak only had 1 bottle left at the Tap Room and that was a couple of weeks ago. But it’s worth going to their fantastic Tap Room to check, just to be sure.

    Good on you for supporting local, it’s one of the best parts of craft beer in my opinion.

    • I couldn’t get past Red Sky’s Tweetybird, but I will. It is so yum. Thanks for the suggestion. Have never been a huge fan of the dark beers, but winter is coming and I’m now old enough to appreciate them. I’ll check it out. As for the UK stuff… Mm, I hear you, but there’s so much cool stuff happening here – my beer bucks are going on them. Californicator? Great name, and I’m a big Devil’s Peak fan already. Bring on rich, dark, winter beers! Thanks for popping in, Briony

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