This past Saturday, Banana Jam Cafe was host to the first iteration of the Craft Beer Project, a new alliance between brewers and beer lovers poised to fill the hole that We Love Real Beer left with its seeming dissolution half a year ago.
Unlike We Love Real Beer’s gatherings, the Craft Beer Project has begun somewhat smaller; trading graphic design and branded glass bombast for something a bit simpler, a bit less crowded and, as a result, a touch more friendly. The idea, put most simply, is to have smaller, more regular mini-festivals (in contrast to WLRB’s bi-annual Biscuit Mill explosions) that are more approachable and more conducive to easy gathering, and letting craft beer become a more regular part of Cape fabric.
Of course, WLRB festivals were always about that too, but the atmosphere at Banana Jam was more genial: spacious, easy-going and accessible. With an excellent selection of beers on tap and in bottle from Darling, Boston, Triggerfish, Devil’s Peak, Porcupine Quill (Botha’s Hill, KZN), Three Skulls Brew Works (JHB), Anvil Ale House (Dullstroom, MP) De Garve Brewery (Vanderbijlpark) and others - combined with a special menu of beer-infused bistro dishes - it was a delicious snapshot of the undercurrents running beneath different sections of SA craft, without the hype and noise.
The highlights of the day for me were new brews from the BruHouse - Maui Point, a mellow but complex IPA brewed with Riwaka hops from New Zealand, was especially fulfilling - and Paulaner’s swansong Salvatore, a refined doppelbock with a sweet, caramelly roast and finish laden with plum; a bittersweet send-off from the Cape Town Brauhaus.
As the day wore on and the crowd at Banana Jam remained healthy and quietly thronging, it became clear that the Craft Beer Project is trying to show that beer celebrations need not be all-encompassing or stupendously large orgiastic days out. The crowd happily buzzing, the beer quickly flowing. No angst and no show - the beer very capably spoke for itself.
But that’s enough of my observations and probably incorrect postulations. I hope you enjoy these few photos of an essentially simple, happy afternoon in Banana Jam’s sun and reggae-laced courtyard.