South Africa’s oldest wine farm is streaked in gold and sepia,its roses and vine winding up and across hills. Farmhands on tractors chug by and stir around the entrances of centuries-old cellars. Groot Constantia is an estate made for postcard vistas; the culmination of colonial dreams and pastoral adventure.
That, and it’s a bloody good spot for a beer festival.
Last night was the official media launch for the Hop and Vine Festival, a winter beer and wine celebration to be held here on the 20th and 21st of July. More specifically, it will be hosted by Simon’s @ Groot Constantia, a gorgeous bar and restaurant tucked round the back of the estate. Here, media, brewers and other Cape beeries mingled and chatted while the chefs of Simon’s exhibited their food and beer pairing expertise and the various organisers of the festival outlined what attendees can expect.
And what can you expect? Simply put: a beer experience unlike nothing South Africa’s yet seen.
"Beer and wine have long been far apart," said organiser Greg Casey, "but we want to bring them closer. A lot of beer people have never been wine drinkers, and because of that they’ve missed out on a lot. The reverse goes for wine people, although it’s also because we only had lager in this country for a lot of years."
"Really, they’re very similar," he continued, "and this venue presents an opportunity to bring those two worlds together and to celebrate both."
Along with the liquid wares from seven Cape-based breweries (the festival proper will more than double that number), the food was exceptionally good. Highlights included cumin boerekaas and pungent gruyere from Constantia Cheesery, and the lip-smackingly confluent beer-and-food pairings of the chefs at Simon’s, the best of which being the peppery punch of the grilled swordfish, accompanied by Valley Brewery’s London Ale, and the classic pseudo-sophistication of local oysters washed down by Triggerfish Empowered Stout. Salty-sweet goodness.
But do you know what the best bit is? You can experience all of this – the setting, the beer and the food – at the Hop and Vine Festival. With live music and food exhibitors in tow, it’s likely to be the classiest beer experience, in the finest possible surrounds, that you’ll get for a while. (That said, the scheduled reggae band and black IPA from Valley of the Skulls should get things quite appropriately shook up.)
Get your tickets right now from Quicket.
One of my very favourite new blogs is the suitably named Oh Beautiful Beer, a collection of thoughtful and good-looking beer bottles, posters, glassware, logos and other beer-related design. It’s a celebration of slick illustration, glassware and branding innovation.
Although small South African breweries have often neglected the importance of considered and consistent design with their identities and advertising – added to the difficulty of sourcing specialist materials and packaging – I was pleasantly surprised to see Triggerfish’s handsome bottle for Ocean Potion featured on the site. Good on ya, Trigs.
In any case, I’d bookmark it. It’s a daily dose of beer and design porn of the highest standard.
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.