South Yeasters Summer Fest

Why is it that the Western Cape is such a hotbed of beer variety? The answer is largely down to a entrenched and extremely strong home brewing culture, nurtured primarily by the South Yeasters home brewing club. Without any doubt, the true strength of the Beer Revolution is the commitment of these foot soldiers.

An ever-growing group of beer enthusiasts meets once a month to share their latest brews, South Yeastersknowledge and solid beer banter. The highlight of the year is their Summer Fest, hosted by SAB in the grounds of their historical and picturesque brewery. The venue is stunning, and the rich brewing history is palpable as one walk through the malt house, now a heritage museum. A lot of micro- brewers look upon SAB with distrust. Big beer, they reason, is an evil empire imposing its will and destroying independent beer planets with impunity. But there were no aggressive Storm Trooper-types or conniving spies at this event, just bright red tents with Castle on them. Some student home brewers couldn’t afford taps – so SAB lent them some. Not really the behavior of a beer-swilling Darth Vader; more like a big brother helping their much younger siblings navigate the wonderful universe of brewing. “The force is strong with you!” sayeth the Emperor with an approving nod.

The atmosphere at the Summer Fest is jovial, and the brewers are exposed to many thirsty beer lovers eager to taste what amateur brewing has got up its sleeve. The standard was the highest I have encountered in the last three years, perhaps testament to the overall lifting of standards in amateur and micro-brewing. Many of the entrants were commercial ventures in the making – simply (or not so simply) waiting on their licenses. I recognized a few; Three Anchor Brewing and their Peg Leg IPA was a favourite of mine last year. When questioned as to why they had not yet gone commercial, the brewer replied, ” I don’t want to have to make standard beers, I like the freedom to experiment”. Is this an indication that even “Micro- brewing” is starting to be viewed as mainstream? Another favourite, which got my vote for “People’s choice” was a very well-made Black IPA from Northern suburb home brewery Fishbone Beerworks. They too are hesitant to become a commercial brewing operation, with their brewer happy to remain a hobbyist, content to make beer for himself and his family. Good for him.

Does making beer commercially take away the experimentation and fun associated with creating a quality handmade product? Perhaps. But, I know many a commercial brewer that experiments and has loads of fun doing it. One of the biggest and most influential ‘craft’ brewers – BrewDog – seems to have a never-ending list of experiments. Regardless, the future of beer in the Western Cape and South Africa looks good. The foot soldiers’ numbers are swelling, and their skills are increasing rapidly. The revolution is in their hearts and minds, and the quality in their hands. Keep an eye out for these breweries, who will soon have a beer in your hand: Beerfly, Stickman Brewery and Riebeek Brew.

Stay Thirsty Stay Curious!

South Yeatsers Summer Fest

 


The Third Beerhouse is coming… to a place near you! Help us find a site for BH3 and win 99 Bottles!

Update November 2016: We’re proud to announce the opening of Beerhouse Centurion!

Our search for more Beerhouse sites continues and the rewards stands as is: you will get to drink all 99 bottles, if you find us the site for Beerhouse #4!

Original posting: Fancy yourself a hospitality detective? Know a place where our 99 bottles and 25 taps can sit comfortably, bringing delicious amber nectar to thirsty South Africans? We need a Sherlock for our beer stock, and we want to hear from you.

Following successful openings on Long Street in Cape Town and Fourways in Johannesburg, the Beer Revolution is looking for the right place to complete the holy trinity of Beerhouses. And we need your help to do it.

So put on your recommendation hats, and recommend dear friends and Beerlovers, recommend! If you know someone, or know someone who knows someone in hospitality or property development who could be looking for a hip and happening tenant, recommend us, and help us get in touch!

Yup, this is your chance to fulfil your dream of having the coolest bar in town right around the corner form you. Email us the details and/or a picture of a space with as much info as possible, or put us in touch with the relevant parties – the winning tip will receive all of the 99 bottles of beer we stock at Beerhouse!

We’re here, we’ve got beer, and we want you to have beer, too.

So get at us, dog! Drop us us an email, or connect with us on Twitter or Facebook and help make Beerhouse your local!

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All roads should lead to Clarens

All roads should lead to Clarens. Especially in February, when it’s time for SA’s best Beer Fest. I have been privileged to attend a lot of Beer Festivals in the last two years; this was my second Clarens Beer Fest and it’s now officially an unmissable event in my calendar. Clarens #3
Why is it South Africa’s best? Well, there are a lot of reasons. First, the Eastern Free State has got to be one of the most scenic and beautiful places in the world – the lush green rolling hills and unique rock formations are simply magnificent. Second, Clarens itself is delightfully old-fashioned. A remnant of bygone town planning, the communal grass square serves as an awesome platform for a Beer Festival. Third, all the Brewers have to be present. This is a big drawcard for me, as some brands at other Festivals are happy to have poppies flaunting their wares, or are content to hire staff to pour their beer. Most of these hired beer dispensers have little or no knowledge of their product. Their apathy irritates me, and makes me not want to consume their products. In Clarens the Brewer is right there at the stall, pouring your beer and answering questions like, “Whats your grain bill?” Ask a hired poppie that question and you might get a pearly-white smile and a “Er – I’m not sure what I spend on cereal.” So Clarens is great for both more seasoned travelers and those starting their journey. photo 1 (3)Finally, each brewer has to brew a new beer specifically for the festival. Therefore 20 new and unique beers are present for me to whisper to. Some of them sung sweetly, others barked loudly and some yapped away at my ankles. Twenty new rides for me to go on, along with all the old favourites. Disneyland for Beer lovers!!
My favourites this year included the three “Best of Shows”, so the judges and I agreed. My breakfast, That Brewing Co’s AM Stout really showed off some great American hop aroma while dancing on a sweet, malty stage. The guys from Smack!Republic  never disappoint and their Nut Brown Ale was so moreish I’m sure I put a serious dent in the one 50 litre keg they brewed. Needless to say the keg finished early on the second day. Third spot went to new guys Riot Beer Factory with a fantastically balanced Simcoe IPA. This single hop beaut was what I use to punctuate all the other beers, and I always seemed to go back to guys at Riot with a big smile on my face.
Perhaps the biggest highlight though (as is the case every year) was the people. Some people say you’re only as good as the beer you drink. Well, I reckon you’re only as good as the people you drink beer with. What a privilege to be able to share this great occasion with so many legendary beer lovers. See you next year Clarens – I will (and will not!) miss you.
Clarens #2