My apologies to Mark and Martin from Keg King for how criminally late this post is. Thanks for putting up with me.
A little over six weeks ago, at Cape Town’s German Club, a little bit of pandemonium broke loose. Ten breweries, some small, some large, some teetering on the verge of collapse, pledged over 40 kegs of beer to everyone’s favourite portable party merchants, Keg King. Two hundred people booked off their Saturday nights and bought tickets to an all-you-can-drink pour-gåsbord: Keg King’s first ever Open Tap night.
The way it works is simple: pay R200 for a ticket, of which there are only 200, receive a branded beer mug on the night, and drink to your heart, your brain and your liver’s desire. Some acquaintances of mine fretted at the price when I asked them to come along with me, but, realistically, you’d spend about R200 on a bender at any craft-serving pub or dive in the Cape. This is just streamlining the process, creating a slick, safe occasion for beer indulgence with no queues, no fuss; just a lot of beer and a lot of happy faces.
The beer came from a variegated assembly of Southern African breweries; Darling, Jack Black, the then-recently-closed Paulaner, Mitchell’s and Camelthorn to name a few. Castle Milk Stout and cider were also provided by SAB and Eversons.
Surely the evening’s highlight, however, was the offering from Devil’s Peak. King’s Blockhouse IPA is definitely a frontrunner of the latest batch of Cape IPAs: like its new labeling, it’s equal parts regal and understated, but certainly lets loose with a well-rounded hops rush. It was a knockout in more ways than one: my only remaining memory after four pints of the stuff was a conversation in slurred French with the Congolese taxi driver on the way home.
As for the atmosphere, it was certainly more genial and lighthearted than my own, already rather high expectations. Potential disaster was avoided with a Stormers victory in the big-screen Super 15 clash against the jacaranda-hued Bulls.
And with that, the party really begun.
In the end, Keg King’s first Open Tap was well organised, well patronised and, happily, very well stocked. It was a night for two purposes, really: the first, an opportunity for the party-seeking public to become acquainted with some new beers and, secondly, getting hammered on them all. Even with the amount of people drinking such a remarkable amount of beer, nothing turned sour. On a backdrop of Bundesliga and wood panelling, new friends were made and instantly forgotten, and a new kind of party took shape.
And I thought it was smashing. Have another one soon, alright?
After a much-needed break (that admittedly went on much longer than expected), regular updates on Suip! will return next week.
May’s turning out to be a very exciting month, starting out with a mini beer festival at Banana Jam Cafe on Saturday the 5th of May. The Craft Beer Project will feature 25 beers on tap from 10 breweries from around South Africa - and it’s likely to get messy, with food pairings and irie times on offer.
May’s issue of Getaway is also looking pretty promising, not least because it features my story. “A Little Renaissance on Wharf Street” is about the Port Alfred brewpub-microbrewery combo currently bringing a neglected part of the old frontier port back to life (with fantastic beer brewed by a cigar-smoking septuagenarian, to boot.) You can also find Lucy Corne’s guide on five of the most scenic brewpubs in the country inside, so get your hands on it when it hits shelves next week.
Also starting in May, I will be appearing on Gary Cool’s Rock Dimension on 2OceansVibe Radio, South Africa’s largest digital radio station, every Thursday evening to talk about the latest happenings in Western Cape and South African beer. Expect stuttering, ill-gotten insight and unfounded opinions - but more about that next week.
Until then, check out Homebru.net’s update on the exciting new developments happening at the long-awaited Woodstock Brewery as well as the fate of Paulaner’s equipment. It seems that, from the sad end of one brewing dynasty, another might rise.
Have a great week.
The time for the Keg King Open Tap Night is almost here. On 31 March at the German Club (6 Roodehek Terrace) in Gardens, Cape Town, eight brilliant craft beers, Eversons Cider and Castle Milk Stout will all be on tap. After a taster of each, attendees can drink all the beer they want - until the kegs run dry, that is. Tickets cost R200 before the evening, and, depending on your enthusiasm, perhaps your dignity afterward.
Email email@example.com for tickets and further details.
Saturday mornings south of the city are really only for one thing: heading to the Neighbour Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Well known for its quirky boutiques, trendy restaurants and palatial furniture stores set right in the middle of what generally isn’t the greatest area of Cape Town (and for being the venue for the last three We Love Real Beer festivals), the Mill becomes the scene for a market of local fresh produce, fashion, delicious breakfasts and lunches, pet stuff and - well - beer.
Hundreds come every week. It’s wonderfully gentrified and hip. Sometimes it gets a bit full and the crowds get impatient and snarky, and the queue for the only available ATM snakes through the designer market, but the food and people-watching is good enough to make up for those faults. I’ve tried paella, mushroom skewers, flatbread, The World’s Best Sandwich and all manner of cakes and pastry - all have been scrumptious, and usually served by someone so pretty or handsome that it actually makes you self-conscious.
But craft beer is the name of the game here. On any given Saturday you’ll find Boston, Camelthorn, Paulaner, B&U, Jack Black and Eversons, most at reasonable prices. (No prizes for guessing whose beer has a generous markup.) A word of warning, though: a decent lunch and beer can total to a hundred bucks, plus any of the other enticing goods on sale. I usually withdraw only what I intend to spend, otherwise I’m in like a magpie and blow my month’s budget in a couple hours’ worth of Bacchic splendour.
With summer and the main tourism season coming round, the Mill is bound to get packed every weekend, with rucksack-wielding foreigners and hungover locals alike shoving you out the way in their pursuit of local pesto and pecorino. Get there early though - say, 10 - and you’ll have a much more pleasurable experience. Grab a morning beer, a foodie breakfast and bask in the remarkable haircuts, flawless complexions and frowning foreign faces of Woodstock’s once-weekly haut monde experience.