One of the things that is very important to us at the Beer Garden SA is to help promote the ‘little guy’, the micro or craft brewery and the people that so passionately create product that is different to the run of the mill. So when I was contacted by Ogilvy last week with an invite, as one of 3 Cape Town media people, to attend a dinner on the Cape Town leg of the Castle Home Grown Tour I was slightly confused. Do they know I am a craft beer blogger?
The thing that really made it easy for me to decide to attend was that famed Cape Town personality Justin Bonello was going to be cooking for the group, and I hadn’t seen him for years having known him from all the way back to 1983 in primary school and then high school in Camps Bay. So I thought, well, I could put back a few Castles if it meant seeing my old bud.
The event was held at The Grand Cafe & Beach in Granger Bay and I arrived a little earlier to hook up with Justin and his Cooked in Africa team before the Castle group arrived. I’d never been there before and was glad to find it first time. It’s a venue that pumps in summer and even on a Thursday evening the inside section was chokka-block. But we were outside on the beach section – that’s Justin Bonello’s style – where the team had set up potjies and coals to braai some lekker Cape food. But when I arrived he was stressing a little because the Castle Home Tour group was late after their afternoon activities and potjie bread needs to be enjoyed fresh and warm!
The Castle Home Tour eventually arrived from their trip up Table Mountain and looked pretty exhausted. I would be too if I’d been a part of their hectic schedule. The group of winners had been on the road since Tuesday with tours around Johannesburg, Kimberly, Cape Town and then left this morning on a 6am flight for Durban. They were spending time with local celebrities such as Schalk Burger, Jean De Villiers, Simphiwe Tshabala and of course Justin Bonello, with a dinner with Johnny Clegg this evening.
But all I was concerned about was seeing my buddy in action and of course enjoying some of the dishes that he has taken worldwide through his show on BBC & on SABC 3.
Justin has an awesome way with people, and he introduced the group to his starters of muscles cooked in a cream, garlic, ginger and chilli sauce. Most of the upcountry contingent hadn’t been so close to the sea before so I spotted a few of them eyeing out the muscles with a bit of trepidation. Next up was braaied snoek covered in apricot jam served with an awesome butternut and beetroot salad. Main course was a lekker lamb and dumplings potjie served with rice, and we finished it all off (those with enough space) with fresh apple crumble.
Naturally this was a Castle event, so we were served cold Castle Draught in a bottle, and apart from my new found friend of Castle Milk Stout, this was the first SAB product I’ve consumed in over a year, and it’ll probably be another year before I do again.
I have been enjoying far too much craft and microbrewery beer of late (Camelthorn Brewing Company, Mitchell’s Brewery, Darling Brew & Triggerfish) to be impressed by Castle’s flavour, and my first reaction to it was that I was pleased to have something to wash down the chilli of the muscles, the stickiness of the snoek and the fattiness of the lamb. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t coffee to go with the desert, but then this wasn’t the Coffee Home Tour so I had to wait to get home for that.
Justin delighted us all by presenting us with signed copies of this stunning book Cooked in Africa – A Cooking Journey Through Southern Africa, and I really enjoyed watching him interact with every person and write them an individual message. “The only thing to remember in life Rouvanne,” he said to me as we stood at the fire, “is to remain humble.” I couldn’t agree more, and felt proud of this South African boykie.
So in conclusion, would I drink Castle Draught as my drink of choice? No. I don’t think I would go out and buy it for myself. But was I impressed by the lengths that Castle went to entertain and impress with guests? Most definitely. SAB has a massive budget for this kind of promotion and they certainly didn’t spare any expense at showing their loyal customers a great time that was more than a year in the planning. I was grateful to be a part of it. Even if it was to only hook up with Justin and spend a few hours with him at the braai!
Thanks to Cooked in Africa Films for some stunning pics!