Who is the Foodie? It doesn’t really matter. Bacon is god. Wine cures anything. If you believe those two facts, then we’re going to get on fine. This means you have discovered the power of food to make life better. This knowledge is imperative to the art of living well.
Last weekend I wanted to be in Joburg to be at the game in Soweto. This weekend I want to be in Joburg to be at the Jozi Craft Beer Fest. I think Depeche Mode summed it up best with I Just Can’t Get Enough. Craft beer is going into hyperdrive in South Africa and this event is helping the City of Gold get its share.
I’d write something witty about beer and Gold and Joburgers but I’d rather just leave it to a quote from a great man famous around the world for fighting Hitler, smoking cigars and drinking beer:
“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to taste some very special beers, brewed for that moment and fitted to their tastes. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unthirsty for these brews that could have made their finest hour.” – Winston Churchill.
It’s that time of year again. Your palms get sweaty from excitement, your thirst builds to a crescendo and your desire for craft beer becomes irreducible. People on the sidewalk appear as giant beer mugs with legs. An old lady on Kloof Street asks you for directions but all you hear is, “Beer beer beer beer, beer? Beer beer? Beer!” And come high noon on Friday, your eyes are going to roll into the back of your head as you give in the meditative joy that nothing but hours of craft beer consumption can provide.
Yes, the WE ♥ REAL BEER summer craft beer festival is upon us lucky Capetonians. The details are simple. From 12pm – 10pm. R75 entrance. More space. More beers than every before. A Ben Sherman music stage. Litres of beer, loads of people and shitloads of fun. In fact, it can best be summarised by this paraphrase of a famous beer lover no longer with us, Winston Churchill.
“The gratitude of every drinker in our land, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty light beer drinkers, goes out to the craft brewers who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and dangers of sobriety, are turning the tide of the world by their brews and by their devotion. Never in the field of craft beer was so much owed by so many to so few.”
More details on the festival here, here and here. Get your tickets (chances are VERY GOOD they’ll sell out) here.
Looks like those crafty fellows at &Union have been up to something again. Der Graf von Bavaria. No word on their website or Facebook page but seems they’ve quietly slipped a non-alcoholic craft beer onto the market. Perhaps the first non-alcoholic craft beer?
Pretty package too, but then we’ve come to expect nothing else from them. Spotted this bottle at Jason Bakery. Am you can try some at the upcoming We Love Real Beer festival.
I started writing a whole post about how I honestly believe that despite the dangers of its abuse, alcohol still contributes much good to society. I was just getting into how (mostly) responsible use can be healthy, encourages social interaction, stimulates creativity and helps relaxation, and is an integral part of the fine-dining world (not exactly a ‘greater good’, but what is great food without great wine?), when I remembered eBooze.
Who? eBooze, if you haven’t heard of them before, provide a simple but very useful delivery service*. Especially useful if, like me, you find yourself unwilling to part yourself from the couch to drive to the nearest outlet and purchase wine for the dinner party that’s starting in a few hours. With eBooze, you can simply pull out your smartphone, log in, choose from a selection of products and they’ll get delivered to you within the hour. No busy lines, long calls or waiting on hold. And you can pay online, or with cash on delivery.
When I used them Friday, they took just 20 minutes to deliver a wine order. I was blown away. Their markup is nothing crazy and delivery charge was R30 (to Camps Bay). They’ve got a pretty good wine selection, not an enormous amount of brands but some good options (including Mulderbosch, Cederberg and Steenberg). They’ve also got quality beers (inc. Brewers & Union, Darling, Corona and Everson’s Cider) and premium spirits (inc. Maker’s Mark. Sailor Jerry, Talisker). And I imagine their selections will only grow in time.
I do love going to a good wine store and browsing selections. But winter is here. When it’s pouring outside, stay indoors and rather go online to get your drinks sent to you. Makes perfect sense to me.
The Mail & Guardian today released their Top 20 Wineries in South Africa list, as compiled by local wine journo Tim James. It’s a pretty solid selection of our best wineries, with the big-hitting oldies (think Kanonkop, Meerlust, Vergelegen) joining the really hot newbies (think Newtown Johnson, Sadie Family, Mullineux) in a list that I can’t really argue with. James took the opinion of 29 professionals, from critics and journos to retailers and sommeliers, to compile his list.
I thought since I have bugger all to add to that list, I’d just compile my own list, but of my top 20 beers in South Africa.
Note: I didn’t consult 29 professionals. No sommeliers, no retailers, no critics, no hobos or anybody. Jeez, I didn’t even aksk I just thrashed this out based on what I’d want to have waiting for me in my fridge when I get home most days.
Another note: Yes, some of these are local, some are foreign. Get over it. This is my list, if you don’t like it, go and make your own.
1. Darling Brew ‘Slow’
Yes, it’s a lager, but a bloody tasty one. Yeasty, rich and a touch of sweetness, and just wins first place because it’s available on tap. Contract brewed in Cape Town. 2. Brewers & Union ‘Berne’
Again, a lager, but an amber lager that is all caramel butterscotch toasty goodness. Get in my face. Contract brewed in Germany. 3. Triggerfish ‘Ocean Potion’
A local pale ale that is freaking awesome, up there with the best I’ve tasted in the US. I just need to get more, please. Brewed here in the Cape. 4. Paulaner ‘Weissbier’
You can’t go wrong with a good Weissbier and this my favourite, also best out the tap. Plenty of fresh citrus in there. Best enjoyed in the sunshine. Previously brewed in Cape Town, now imported from Germany. 5. Brewers & Union ‘Versus Goliath’
Eessentially another amber lager, similar to the Berne, but richer and sweeter, making it deadly drinkable. One won’t do. Contract brewed in Germany. 6. Camelthorn ‘Red American Ale’
Hello rich, medium-bodied ale with great bittersweet caramel flavours Yes, you, you’re delicious. Brewed in Namibia. 7. Devils Peak ‘Kings Blockhouse’ IPA
Knocked my socks off when I tried it last year for the first time. Quality IPA (Indian Pale Ale) not for the fainthearted or commercial lager lover. Bring it. Brewed in the Cape. 8. Brewers & Union ‘Steph Weiss’
Zippy, fresh Weiss with not too much citrus, but plenty great yeasty flavour. Best looking bottle around too. Contract brewed in Germany. 9. Coopers Pale Ale
It’s a family-owned Aussie beer, yes, and I’ve only just seen it on shelves (at Vino Pronto), but have made repeated pilgrammage to find it, because it’s great beer. Go find some! Brewed in Australia. 10. Robson’s East Coast Pale Ale
Delicious, tangy easy-drinking beer in what I’d say is a quasi pale ale style, thus only mildly bitter. Brewed in KZN. 11. Jack Black ‘Premium Lager’
On tap, still one of the most thirst-quenching-but-with-actual-flavour lagers around. Contract brewed in Cape Town. 12. Pilsner Urquell
Mass brewed, but the only pilsner that really delivers good flavour and body, nicely bitter too. Brewed (mostly) in Czech Republic. 13. Birkenhead ‘Honey Blonde’
Light and fresh ale, bit of a session-drinking beer. Their packaging is unsightly, so enjoy on tap when you can. Brewed in the Cape. 14. Guinness
Who can argue that this rich, creamy stout isn’t the best stout around? Brewed in Ireland and about 5 million other countries. 15. Brewers & Union ‘Dark Lager’
Once you go black, you never go back. Actually, this is light enough you can switch to a regular lager after, if you feel like. Surprising but true. Contract brewed in Germany. 16. Mitchell’s Brewery ‘Bosuns Bitter’
Classic, English-style ale that’s not too heavy to drink, so you can enjoy several of over lunch. Or into the night. Or later. Brewed in the Cape. 17. Corona ‘Extra’
Commercial and as some say, “like having sex in a canoe – fucking close to water,” but undeniably refreshing on a hot day with a piece of lime dropped in. Brewed in Mexico. 18. Frankie Fenner ‘Unlabeled’
It doesn’t have a name, but if you go to Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and ask them for a sampler while rubbing your left earlobe and winking, you might get lucky. Home brewed in SA. 19. Boston Breweries ‘Van Hunks Pumpkin Ale’
Not sure how available this stuff still is, but for a flavoured beer is rather impressive and worth enjoying. Brewed in Cape Town. 20. Carling ‘Black Label’
Aka Zamalek, this beer, drunk out of a quart, is what refreshing mass-produced lager should taste like. A South African legend and you can find it EVERYWHERE. Brewed in SA.
Probably left a few goodies off, but hey, everyone has their own list. Make your own. If it’s too short, drink more beer.
Friday night’s WE ♥ REAL BEER festival was insane. Yes, there were loads of people. Too many. But there was tons of fun. And awesome beers. Hilarious moments. Sticky flip-flops. Broken glasses. Lager-stained t-shirts. A standard assortment of madness, really. Though if you weren’t launched, I reckon you wouldn’t enjoy it.
Needless to say I had a great time.
Something new this time was the choice of beer glass. Instead of the previous and typical conical pint glass, we got big tankards, with thick glass handles. Similar to the kind of thing you’d get at a medieval tavern. They presented a whole bunch of different ways to hold, which, if you’re a philosophical deep-thinking highly intellectual contemplative academic beer drinker like me, you can use to get a hold on the drinker…
The Standard. Four fingers inside, thumb securing on top. Preferred method by professionals. Reveals responsibility and signs of maturity. A doer, not a talker. Trustworthy. Level-headed when sober. Likes craft beer. Hates bullshit.
The Hang-Ten. Made popular by Ohlssons-drinking surfers in the 70′s. Easy-going drinker. Mellow. Enjoys a bit of reggae. Glass half-full kinda person. Chilled, but vicious if you try steal a sip. Likes music festivals. Hates politics.
The Hard-Man. Pinky finger floating under handle shows independence. And a challenge. A take-it-or-leave-it kinda drinker. Strong worded. Stronger armed. “I only need four fingers to hold this beer. I could fuck you up with just my pinky.” Likes Bruce Springsteen. Hates Amelie.
The Text. Someone that likes to connect. Communicates well. Extroverted. Claw technique offers unparalleled flexibility to hold beer and cellphone while speed-typing an SMS, Facebook post or twitter message. “So much awesomeness at @weloverealbeer #drunk #wahoooeey!” Likes Blackberry’s. Hates signal loss.
The Nugget. Double hand technique offers maximum tankard security. Holds onto their beer like it’s the last nugget of gold on earth. Problems with trust. Introverted. Doesn’t like strangers or crowds. Very wise though. And understanding. Likes security villages. Hates the mall.
The Thumb Master. Thumb-over the rim of the glass technique for added control when drinking. Drinker plays a lot of Master of The Thumbs. Can be found at Vida, thumb on table, waiting for someone to notice and do same. Playful. Enjoys a good romantic comedy. Likes drinking games. Hates white wine.
The Spread. Open-plan finger technique gives sense of ‘playing it cool.’ Laughs a lot. But can be serious. Enjoys the good things. But everything in order. Spontaneous. Uses the word ‘kiff’ a lot. Likes the beach. Hates angry people.
The Smash. Seldom seen technique more commonly seen in Northern Ireland and dodgy pubs outside Boksburg. Broken glass not highly efficient for beer drinking, but allows the drinker to show toughness to comrades. Someone with inner and outer strength. Enjoys a few pints. And then some. Not shy of a battle. Likes concrete bar counters. Hates bouncers.
The Waiter. Scoop technique allows beer to rest in palm of hand, like a tray. High-risk method. Danger of spillage 8/10. Someone that lives on the edge. Adventurous. Wild. Unpredictable. But very loyal. Likes roadtrips. Hates cubicles.
The Catapult. Swings the glass over clenched fist into face, beer ending in mouth (hopefully). Extremely risky. Liable to spill on clothing. Someone that is either very creative, or launched off their face. Impressive skills. Results uncertain. But always willing to give it a shot. Likes parties. Hates closing time.
The Clench. Another rarely seen technique, clenching the glass between the teeth to allow the hands to be completely free. Useful when having to carry large amounts of beer. Or when extremely lazy. Or wasted. A little bit crazy. Prone to letting out wolf howls randomly. Likes a good time. Hates haters.
You know you’re excited. Your mouth is salivating at the thought of tasty brews. Your knees are getting weak. You’re very, very thirsty. You need beer. Lots of it. And it’s coming. Yup, someone must have touched wood, tossed a dwarf or kissed their lucky stone because there’s another installment of the ridiculously popular craft beer festival and it’s only a week away. WE ♥ REAL BEER craft beer festival version 3.0 is on next Friday, 30th September. Put that in your diary. Do it now.
What’s it about? Same great venue. Same awesome breweries. But with some great new beers. Jack Black has a new pale ale out. The Brewers & Union boys have their Versus Goliath. Darling has their Bonecrusher Weiss. And there’s more – real artisan ciders from Eversons, Gone Fishing and Terra Madre. I’ve had the privilege of tasting the latter just once, and am really looking forward to more. There’s also music from the Dixie Swingers and rumour has it that there’ll be a home-brewing demonstration too.
Timing has also been cut back to the original 4pm – 11pm, which means 7 hours of pure unadulterated beer indulgence.
Get your tickets here at webtickets.co.za or at the door (best buy in advance and avoid the queue). Cost is R50 and includes a WE ♥ REAL BEER pint glass that you can keep by your bedside as a memento forever.
It was bound to happen, with all the hype around beer being just as good a pairing with food these days. Tokara host a beer vs. wine dinner this Tuesday night, using the best of wine from Tokara and craft beer from Brewers & Union. Naturally chef Richard Carstens has spent the last few weeks thinking up the perfect four-course menu as a platform for this standoff.
Now if you think this is going to just be a seriously indulgent night with way too much booze, you’re wrong. It’s going to be a seriously indulgent night with way too much amazing food and booze. Guests will be elegantly stuffing their faces and taking generous sips of beer, then repeating the process but with wine. Then long discussions will follow about the merits of each. Possibly. Perhaps more likely is that guests will just sit back and submit to a flavour festival like no other. Either way, it’s going to be awesome fun.
Tickets are R450 per person, which for a double-pairing and four-course meal by one of South Africa’s top chefs is pretty damned good, if you ask me. Since I have a deep love for beer, wine and anything edible, I’ll be there, trying to maintain some sort of decent decorum amongst the feeding frenzy. Or is that maintaining a feeding frenzy amongst the decent decorum? Let’s see what happens…
She said wine, he said beer! Tokara Restaurant, 6 September 2011. Bookings +27 (0) 21 885 2550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More info here.