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The rise of small town beer festivals and why craft lovers are sold on them

Beer writer and homebrewer, Karl Tessendorf shares 4 reasons to head to an out-of-town beer fest. Put these ones in your calendar!

by: Karl Tessendorf | 05 Apr 2019
girl with beer and friends

The road trip beer festival is growing in popularity and for good reason. They are a quick getaway and beer fest all rolled into one and they’re an absolute blast. 

Still need more convincing? 

Okay, let’s take a look at a couple of reasons why they’re worth hitting the road for.  

1. The road trip adventure 

I’ll be the first to admit that before my first out of town beer festival experience, I was a naysayer. It seemed like a long way to drive for a beer festival especially when we have so many in town, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Get a couple of mates together, book accommodation and watch the excitement escalate on the WhatsApp group as the day approaches. The comradery force is strong with the out of town beer festival. Clarens Craft Beer Fest is probably the most famous country fest and there are scores of Capetonians who make the 1285 kilometre trek every year in rented buses. 

The once-off beers

Brewers are always encouraged to brew something special for festivals. It makes the trip even more worthwhile and in recent years we’ve seen some absolute stunner once-off beers. I know people (me included) who still talk about Little Wolf’s fabled barrel-aged sour saison infused with vanilla and white peaches from last year’s Fools and Fans Fest in Greyton. Some brewers even bottle limited runs of the once-off beers which are sometimes available for purchase. 

The entertainment 

Music and beer go hand in hand and no one has done it better than Saggy Stone’s annual festival in Robertson. They’ve consistently had big-name artists like Jeremy Loops, Jack Parow and Karen Zoid. We’ve seen some big strides since the early days of beer fests that featured no music or some guy playing his favourite playlist. I wonder how long it will be before we see some international talent at a local fest?

The comradery 

Small country towns have a small town feel so an influx of tourists with money to spend has a visible effect on the town. It’s great for local business and it’s a pretty cool feeling to wander the streets to and from the beer festival and see people you know and other festival goers. It’s a great place to network, make new friends and reconnect with old ones.  

What are you waiting for?

Unfortunately, the Clarens Fest and Saggy Stone Fest are over for this year but you can catch the 3rd Fools & Fans Fest this Saturday (6th) in Greyton. It’s quickly turning into one of the premier small town festivals and rumour has it that this year’s once-off beer line up is insane. 

On the 27th of April in KZN the Craft Revolution Fest is happening, and on May 1st in Pretoria East on the Hazeldean farm the Purely Pretoria Craft Beer Fest is on. Another awesome one to watch out for is the Darling Winter Beer Fest but the dates for that one have not been released yet. 

ALSO READ: What is South Africa’s craft beer identity?


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