The Joburg Festival of Beer

The City of Johannesburg has undergone a rapid change in recent years, with ambitious development projects paving the way for modern apartments, office buildings and a host of museums and theatres which provide further insight into South Africa’s history and culture. The last few years have also seen an explosion of new bars, cafes and trendy restaurants throughout the city, reflecting an increasing demand for both local and international flavours and trends. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this also extends to alcoholic beverages and resulted in the first ever Joburg Festival of Beer being held last year. Spurred on by its initial success, the festival organisers are back with an even bigger event in the last weekend of September this year. It promises to be an unmissable few days for beer aficionados”¦

Festival lowdown

It may only be in its second year, but the success of its inaugural event means thousands of beer lovers will once again descend on the Pirates Sports Club in Greenside for two days of beer related celebrations. A super-sized marquee will line the rugby pitches and house over 160 beers from local and international brewers, all of which can be sampled from 10am onwards on the 27th and 28th of September. Attendees will also receive their very own Beer Passport upon arrival, which can be filled with the unique stamps of each beer you sample throughout the weekend. The various beers are produced by a range of brewers, with home and micro brewers standing side by side with so-called mega breweries and craft beer experts. This gives you the chance to pop your head in on some home brewing demonstrations, as well as food and beer pairing sessions. A wide variety of food stalls will also be open throughout the weekend, ideal for those keen to put their new found food and beer pairing knowledge to the test. And of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without live entertainment, with the beer tents playing host to both live bands and showing sports on the big screens.

The Breweries

If there’s one problem you might encounter during your visit, it will no doubt involve deciding which of the 160 odd beers to sample. Even the most seasoned beer connoisseur would have to admit that tasting them all could prove tricky, so we’ve picked out some of the standout brewers which you would be wise to include on your tasting hit list.

Brewhogs

Brewhogs produces over 30,000 litres of beer each month from its base in Kyalami, all under the watchful eye of its female brew master Apiwe Nxusani. Don’t miss your chance to sample their crisp Pilsner or the fruit-floral hop character of their Red Lager.

Jack Black Beer

For a selection of hand crafted beers, stop by the Jack Black Beer stall and expose your taste buds to one of South Africa’s most sought after and well-loved craft beers.

Stellenbrau

Over at the Stellenbrau, meanwhile, you’ll have the chance to sample their much heralded lager which just so happens to be the recent winner of the 2014 Global Craft Beer Award. Alumni Ale and Governors Red Lager are also brewed at the company’s Stellenbosch base in South Africa’s Western Cape Province.

Aces Brew

The aptly named Aces Brew was founded by two brothers, Dyllan and Liam, who have so far produced their Premium Aces Lager, as well as the Bare Naked Blonde and Irish Red ales.

Darling Brew

Finally, Darling Brew produce five different beer varieties, all of which will be available over the festival weekend. The Slow Beer and Bone Crusher represent their most popular drinks, with the former taking its name from its slow fermentation process. The result is a rich golden lager bursting with real hops flavour and a mild bitterness.

Joburg’s best watering holes

Last orders at the festival are called at 10pm on the Saturday and 7pm Sunday, so what to do if you’re not yet ready to call it a night? Luckily for you, Johannesburg’s passion for quality beer extends beyond the festival perimeters and onto the streets where many a cool bar awaits.

If you’re looking to carry on the party you could do a lot worse than swing by the Beerhouse Fourways on Sunset Avenue, just off Witkoppen Road. This newly opened establishment was first set up in Cape Town and claims to offer Africa’s largest variety of beers. The menu lists 99 different bottles and 20 taps, which will ensure you enjoy a seamless transition from beer festival to beer house.

The increased popularity of the gastro pub has more or less been matched by the craft beer trend, with the combination of quality drink and food naturally proving irresistible to many. For one of the finest gastro pub experiences in Johannesburg, drop by The Griffin on the corner of Corlett Drive and Oxford Road. The owners, childhood friends Martin and Thomas, have created an English-style pub based on the gastro pubs they used to work in and frequent when they lived in London. The result is a laid back establishment which offers seven craft beers and one cider on tap, as well as a wide selection of bottled beverages. The food menu, meanwhile, features tried and tested favourites including gourmet burgers, curries and fish and chips.

In the unlikely event that you should tire of the constant flow of beer, or at the very least would like to mix up your drink orders a little, then a trip to the Foundry may be just the ticket. In addition to a broad selection of local and international craft beers, this rustic hang-out also offers some equally mouth-watering whisky blends. Don’t forget to test their very own ‘Franky Four Fingers’ brew though, whilst the food menu shouldn’t go amiss either.

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