There seems to be a national day for just about everything these days, but few excite more than National Beer Day. There’s just something about the quaffable, carbonated drink of the gods that has always captured our imagination. It has stood the test of time with many cultures throughout history recording their beer escapades while offering thanks to their chosen beer deity. It was serious business – in fact, some say that in ancient Babylon, if you brewed a bad beer, you were drowned in it.
Luckily, these days we’ve traded barrel bobbing for snarky Twitter reviews, but one thing remains the same: beer is still the drink for everyone. This Saturday marks the fourth annual South African National Beer Day (#SANBeerDay) celebrations and it’s shaping up to be the best one yet. We chatted with Lucy Corne, beer writer and event originator, about the day.
Where did the idea for SANBD come from?
It started with International Beer Day, which is at the start of August in the USA but in Cape Town, August is not the best beer-drinking weather. So rather than simply following what the Americans were doing, we decided to do our own thing. I chatted to a bunch of breweries and we decided that the first Saturday in February was a good time, as people had recovered from the silly season spending. We wanted the day to highlight the fact that there’s more to South Africa than just wine. We are a big beer-drinking country and we’re proud of it.
What are your top events picks for this year?
In Gauteng, there are four bottomless beer events at Mad Giant, Hazeldean and both Capital Craft outlets. So if you wanted to stick in one place with your mates and plenty of beer, then either of those four is a solid choice. Stellies Brewing is doing another mass collab and everyone is invited. Last year they had over a hundred people joining in a brew day and each person had an opportunity to drop a hop or stir the mash. Everyone who participated got their name printed on the can, which is pretty cool, and they are hoping to break last year’s record. They are starting at 9am and they’re brewing a granadilla-lolly beer. Lastly, Soul Barrel and Apiwe from Brewsters Craft, and Banana Jam and Ukhamaba are both doing umqombothi brew days, which is awesome. At Banana Jam they will have samples of Ukhamaba’s umqombothi, which was brewed earlier this week.
Another cool thing that is launching is The Woodstock Wander. Shackleton, Woodstock, the Brewers Co-Op and Drifter Brewing have created a walking tour – you get a passport that you have to get stamped at each brewery. Once you’ve collected all the stamps, you earn yourself a free beer from the brewery of your choice.
Which beers will you be drinking?
Woodstock Brewery always brews a bunch of small-batch beers for the day, so I’ll be tasting those along with my favourite, a Mr Brownstone hazelnut ale. I am also really looking forward to tasting the umqombothi from Ukhamba Beerworx at Banana Jam.
If you’re looking for something to do this Saturday then check out the SA National Beer Day website for events happening near you. Brewers are adding new events daily and, at last count, there were over fifty happening around the country. To join in the festivities online, be sure to tag your social media pics with #SANBeerDay and remember, don’t drink and drive!