We worked our asses off at the Good Food and
Wine Beer Show last weekend and are every happy that it’s all over for at least another year – or at least until our next event. We’ve got mixed feelings about the show, the so called “food lovers’ mecca“, but much of that has to do with the economics side of it, rather than the excitement we had of being there.
Four days is a long time when you’re a small team; a small company who is just dying to get your product that you are so passionate about out into the market because you end up manning your own stand all day and have to do the setting up and breaking down – not forgetting the restocking daily too. But it gives us the opportunity of getting to tell our story to so many new people that we just don’t have the resources to see during our day-to-day dealings. And hell, it’s good to see the smiles!
We decided to share our stand with Napier Brewery to save costs and they provided their lager, ale and their new “Old Charlie” stout on tap, while we provided the bottles of theirs and a host of other products, we also had a spirits table where we featured some of the finest micro-distillery spirits available in the Cape.
We are The Beer Garden and so we love educating people about beers from around the world and excellent micro-breweries from South Africa, but we do also slip in a nice dry cider with Everson’s Cider from Grabouw delighting so many people and becoming one of our best sellers. Of course it helped when William Everson came through and presented tastings to people at our stand.
Our beers, from 4 countries, included Namibia’s Camelthorn Brewing Companies range of the Red American Ale, Weizen Bavarian Weiss-beer, Fresh Weiss-beer, Helles Unfiltered Lager and my personal buddy, the 7% Bok that I am really enjoying at the moment! South Africa’s participant was of course Napier Brewery – yes, from the Napier near Bredasdorp – and it was great to be able to offer their first run of bottles on all three of their beers. The machine only arrived on Monday and Mark and Richard spent Tuesday bottling 600 bottle one-at-a-time. Respect.
From Europe, we had two representatives with our newly arrived German Oettinger Export & HefeWeissbier, one of the few tins of beer that doesn’t taste of tin, as well as the famous Erdinger range of Dunkel, Weiss-beer, Kristall and the mighty Non-alcoholic. My personal favourite, Valentin’s Weiss-beer was loved by many on my recommendation too. I really enjoy Belgium’s beer and so I will also endeavor to have at least one or two of their brands and we were lucky enough to receive a limited supply of Liefmans Fruitesse, that ‘Cherry Beer’ that drove so many ladies wild at the We Love Real Beer Festival. Further, we stocked Duvel and the Maredsous Abbey Beer trio of Blonde, Brune & Triple – that naughty monster in a bottle!
On the spirits side we had our Jorgensen’s Distillery’s stunning Savingnac Potstill Brandy, a new batch of Naked Lemon Limoncello, the Field of Dreams Absinthe and their initial claim to fame, Primitiv Vodka. Although we don’t distribute the grappa and schnapps from Helmut Wilderer’s distillery in Simondium, we do promote it at our events and we had the The Wilderer Muscato, Pinotage, the curvacious Shiraz and Williams Birne on our table. We love it when Master Distillers like Mr Wilderer come to visit because being able to refer an admirer to the man or woman who actually made the love product leaves a lasting impression. I suppose it’s easier for small breweries and distilleries but it can add such a personality to a brand.
A highlight for many was that we had just a couple of bottles of Lovoka Chocolate & Lovoka Caramel Fusion Liqueurs. With every tot sold we added a delectable Macaroon made especially for us by our friend Patrick Moreau from Cassis Paris Patisserie, but unfortunately, neither lasted very long and by day 2 we were sold out!
We didn’t see nearly enough people in total to make any money. The stand fee’s were pretty expensive for all the small companies who wanted to be a part of the events, and we heard many grumbles from visitors about having to pay R85/R90 to get in but that there were less free tasters. I understand that, but in today’s financial climate I think that the small businesses are most affected and they still have to pay for cost of product and so it can’t be a free-for-all. But it’s a good thing that the genuinely interested people outnumbered the slobbers and so we made many new friends.
There was a group of guys from Malmesbury who’s eyes lit up and had smiles burst from their faces the first time they tasted our beers with each having his own expression and getting to taste his buddy’s. There is a market for good beer in the Swartland! Or the gentleman who was so impressed by the Jorgensen’s Savingnac that he bought all my stock – at R350 per bottle! Or how Jeremy Mansfield originally sent someone to ask for something similar to a Hansa, and then ended up falling in love with the Erdinger Non-alcoholic.
Speaking of plump, or rather, pregnant people… For many of us behind the scenes, who were there every day, slogging and feeling the aches and pains of being on your feet all day and having to entertain, educate and satisfy the needy, one person really proved to be a hero – Jamie. 33 weeks pregnant, this tough cookie didn’t want to miss out on any of it and stood passionately behind the stand for all but a few hours when we sent her home to rest her swollen ankles.
Whiskey personality, Bernard Gutman commented “Huge respect. 8 months pregnant and a show like that – must be a world first.” We did have a good laugh at her, because a hormonal scatter brain did appear every now and then, such as when she looked up and said to a customer, “You look like Chester Williams, just younger!” To which he replied, “Thanks for that, but I am Chester!”
Loads of friends from other markets were also exhibiting, with many new ones made during the course of the event, and of course when we did get a chance we let our eyes dance over some of the magnificent stalls – never mind some of the beautiful people! Of course the ones who were walking around with our beers looked the coolest! They were the ones in the know!
Will we do it again next year? Yes. We’re booking a double sized stand to ensure we reach more people with more product! It’ll cost more, and we’ll have to work harder, but ultimately we want to be part of one of the biggest food &
wine beer events in the Cape. So see you then, if not before!