Having tasted many different brews and indulged in gourmet food in between; my stomach resembled a beer barrel when leaving the SA On Tap Craft Beer Festival!
Walking through the gates, the laid-back atmosphere immediately made me want to call up all my friends and say “Hey! Meet me here!”; I was pleasantly surprised when I saw all the tents set up, wooden tables and chairs laid out, hay stacks placed all over, and live music from local bands on the go. Gavin Kearn, the organiser of the SA on Tap Craft Beer Festival had this to say about the turn out and event; “The response to a craft beer festival in Durban was fantastic and it is really good to see support of the little guys. We sold out of tickets on Friday so we were obviously very happy as it gives something back to the brewers who travel from far to attend. This was the 5th SA on Tap to happen, the second Durban event; started by myself as a private venture to educate the market on the great craft beers in our country.”
After a quick walk around to get my bearings, my beer stall crawl began with Everson’s Cloudy Cider. The cloudy cider looked like an old school lemonade, and had a bit of a tart after taste. As I savoured the sips of the tasty cloudy cider, I slowly made my way through the cheerful crowds to find my next pit stop; the Windermere Cider stall, where I topped up with their refreshing and not so strong flavoured Classic Cider.
Having worked my way around the first tent, I moved on to Jack Black’s beer stall, where I braved up and had a taste of each of their beer brews. Starting off my Jack Black tasting journey I was served their lager; which is one of the biggest selling craft beers in the country. The Butcher Block was next for the tasting, it had a bitter after taste, and a bit of a sharper taste than the heavier lager tasted before. Lastly, I tried the Lumber Jack which seemed smoother, with a less bitter after taste.
Soon after the Jack Black experience I went to the Old Main Brewery, where I requested a beer or cider for a lady. Without any hesitation I was served the 1806 Real Ale. It was certainly a taste I had never experienced before. The brew master shed light on some of the ingredients used to make this unique taste, some of which were nuts, honey, hops, sugar and salt.
With all this drinking, I made a bee line to the food stalls. Starting my food tasting at the homely pizza stand of Maddison Bakery; where all the pizzas were handmade with Standeaven Brewery press club stout. The savoury taste of the avo and chicken pizza and 1806 Real Ale worked together really well; the savoury flavours came out more with each sip.
I found myself at the Basset Beer tent, which seemed to serve really interesting beers and ales. First up was the Chilly-Willy Winter, which was a spicy brew made similarly to Scandinavian beer. It was brewed with cinnamon, raisins, orange peel, and ginger. I could picture myself drinking this rich warming flavoured beer on a cold winter’s day! Next was the Befreckled Red, which was an Irish red Ale; it was rich, smooth and full-bodied. The most interesting taste of the day was the Pennington Pride; a smoked Porter. The first sip I was required to swirl around in my mouth; immediately I could taste the strong smoky flavour. After the second sip, the smoky flavour wasn’t so strong, and eventually started tasting really pleasant. It’s a great beer to cook red meat with. My last taster at the Basset tent was the Barking Blonde which was lighter than the other heavier drinks I had before.
Warming up to different kinds of beers, I ventured off to Robson’s tent. I was curious to see what they had to offer, as throughout the festival, I would walk passed people saying this was the tent to start at. Having just warmed up to beers, I couldn’t help myself but go for the pink drink! The Cheeky Cherry, was a typical cider for ladies not used to the bitter tastes of beer, one sip and I was hooked! The fruity sweet flavour made it dangerous, as it went down a bit too quickly and made me want another! I hesitantly walked away from my favourite flavoured drink to the next beer stall; the Darling Brew, where I tried one of their light Ales.
All these ciders, ales and beers were going down really well that I started heading towards the food stalls again. I couldn’t go home without trying out Afro’s chicken burger. Afro’s mobile food stall is often found on the corner of Addington and South Beach in Durban, I have often heard people say how tender and tasty their chicken is, that I had to stand in the queue to see what the fuss was all about. It was definitely full of flavours, and unbelievably tender!
My belly was certainly being put to the challenge trying to fit all these drinks and food in! My next drink adventure was to That Brewing Co, which most people were raving about. I tried some good ole Pineapple Ale. Which reminded me of the time my dad tried making his own homemade ale. As I walked around the park, I kept eyeing out the Ponto Paella stand, which happened to be in close proximity of That Brewing Co. Being a seafood lover, it just looked too good to pass by again. So I indulged in a healthy helping of Paella, accompanied with the pineapple ale.
There was so much to take in, taste and enjoy, Gavin Kearn reflects, “Shaun Jacobs was without a doubt a huge hit, but from the brewers side it must have been the inclusion of new beers on par with international standard. The boys from That Brewing Company had an incredible APA as did the crew from Clarens. But we cannot overlook the iconic status offered up by Moses Mabhida Stadium, it was a fantastic setting for a great day out.” In my personal opinion, the entire set up was a success, and the only possible way to taste every brew and cider is to set up camp and enjoy it as a whole day affair. I can’t wait for next year’s Craft beer festival; it’s ideal for a group of friends to go to, enjoy each other’s company, indulge in great street and pub-like food and of course taste great brews and ciders from around the country. I now understand why tickets sold out so quickly! Cheers to a freakin’ great weekend!