A humble apology: I know I have been silent these past two days. But it’s been for a good reason, apart from the fact that my last days as a postgraduate student are looming dark and menacing.
By way of apology, please find here The Unofficial We Love Real Beer Fest Drink Guide, in which I - with a great deal of conjecture and not a lot of skill - will attempt to lay out your best beer options for Friday evening’s festival of everything that is good about beer, food, women with unnatural hair colours, overpriced bruschetta and button-up shirts.
(In case you weren’t aware: the superlative We Love Real Beer Festival is having its latest incarnation this Friday evening at the Old Biscuit Mill on Albert Road in Woodstock. Entrance is R50 with a free branded pint glass on entry. The experience, however, is priceless: plenty pretty people, plenty delicious beer and food, plenty great times.)
So, without further ado:
THE UNOFFICIAL WE LOVE REAL BEER FEST DRINKING GUIDE
First tipple: the daylight supreme
I’m assuming you will arrive at WLRB after work, unlike me, as I have no job. Although the festival begins at 4 p.m., it will likely only kick off in earnest at about 6 p.m., just as the sun begins its slow descent under the horizon. Table Mountain starts darkening against the sky; the city begins to come alive for the first of many warm weekend nights.
Getting aquainted with the WLRB Fest hall, the same one used for the Neighbour Goods Market every Saturday morning, you find a beer that is remarkably apt for such a time as this: Camelthorn’s Sundowner. A light Marzen-style beer, it abounds with spiciness and freshness. Marzens are usually the stock and trade of the traditional Oktoberfest, so this beer is well-suited to the time of year and the spirit of this festival. You’re impressed. Further, it’s Camelthorn’s summer seasonal, so you figure you best start maximising the time you have to enjoy it.
And enjoy it you do: you sip your Sundowner, looking over the darkening surrounds of Woodstock and beyond, anticipating what remains of what should be a most excellent night.
Second tipple: A failed male fantasy
But you need food now. Your thirst admirably quenched, you mill through the crowds to find nourishment. You haven’t eaten yet today. You’ve been saving all your money up for expensive beer. Food just equals money taken away from beer, but you realise your attempt to minimise non-beer-related expenses is ultimately quixotic. You head for some man selling a steak sarmie for R200, but instead settle in the crowd surrounding an incredibly pretty girl selling vegetarian wraps. Befuddled by her light dimples and doe eyes, you buy a butternut and feta phyllo wrap from her for R50. She hands it over to you, cradling it with her long delicate fingers. She smiles and delivers a cheery, somehow sultry “thank you” and sets her gaze on the next man clutching his money in sweaty palms. You try to catch her eye again but no, she has already moved on.
Realising you have, yet again, been had by a beautiful woman, you search for something to wash down both your wrap and the stinging pain in your heart. You head to Mitchell’s and grab a Forester’s Draught: hoppy, refreshing and always dependable. It goes well with any food and has never let you down. You wash down the average wrap with relish, one eye on the hazelnut-tressed siren that lured you to a foodie doom being chatted up by her bearded, fedora-hat-wearing boyfriend.
The world is not fair.
Third tipple: Something different
Broken-hearted, you turn your attention to the matter at hand: you’re here because you love beer, not a wrap-toting harlot in a high-waisted skirt, bent on delivering her goods to any man with a handful of cash. You try to scope out something different. It’s 8 p.m. now: the Old Biscuit Mill is filling up fast. Brewers & Union are surrounded by rich men with cash to blow on imported beer; Jack Black’s inundated by people asking for free draught glasses, having already smashed theirs on the pavement; everyone at Camelthorn is now speaking German and communication with them has become impossible.
You retreat to the dark corners of the hangar hall, where you find Karoo Brew. Starved of love and attention, you order their Karoo Honey, a honey ale containing all the depth and sweetness that the girl of your dreams briefly promised but never delivered. You leave the hall and stand outside in the cool spring air, sipping your honey ale. Its maltiness sits wonderfully in your stomach, blanketing what remains of the wrap of deceit.
You wander around, chat to some acquaintances, and start to feel good. In the midst of a conversation with your graphic design buddies about visual onomatopoeia in this campaign they’re doing for some NGO-or-something-I-don’t-really-know-what-it-is, you spy a gaggle of your ex-lovers chatting in the corner. You try to ignore them, but you can’t. Curious, you sneak a glance at them. You never knew they were friends. They look at you out the sides of their eyes, giggling. Perhaps they are talking about your common bad flatulence, or your underwhelming skills in bed. Whatever it is, it’s about you, and it’s not good.
You suddenly feel yourself sucked out from all that goodness and all the love that surrounds you. You are plunged into the depths of dispair.
Fourth tipple: the depths of dispair
Darkness. Blackness. Dark blackness. You may have a BA in English and Philosophy, but you are suddenly unable to find the words to describe the starless, moonless gloom that has enveloped your soul. You stumble back inside the hall, clutching your beer glass, searching for something that will speak to the shadows residing inside your heart.
You find Darling Brewery. You spot black bottles. They have what look like ravens on them. Perfect.
"I’ll have three of those please."
"Three Black Mists right up.”
Black motherflippen Mist. You clench your beers threefold and head back out into the night. You sit alone. You start sipping. They’re delicious. One by one you slick back the inky, inky stouts. Their deep malt echoes through the hollow recesses of your psyche. The fullness of its mouthfeel begins to seep through your veins.
It’s your own little dark rite. Your friends surround you. Their faces morph in various shapes. Their voices ring in your head demonically. They pick you up, their shoulders slung under your armpits. Your teeth gnash; unintelligible words spurt forth from your mouth. You drop the empty bottles of Black Mist. They shatter on the brickwork.
Your ex-lovers look towards you with vindication. You realise they were right about you. It’s the last functioning thought that you have tonight, a night of soul-searching and disappointment. Another installment in a line of low-rent tragedies.
But you drank good beer, at least. In this you take solace as you are bundled into the back of a taxi and a Francophone man with three teeth and a hearty laugh drives you to your matchbox apartment in Gardens.
Well, needless to say, that didn’t turn out how I initially expected it to. In any case, my suggestions are that you try something new on Friday - especially the Sundowner and the Black Mist, which, all joking aside, are great beers - and have an enjoyable time. But please - please - don’t drink and drive. And don’t look the vendors in the eye.
See you Friday! :D