If you’re one of those people that bores your friends to near tears with your incessant chatter about IBUs and ESBs, white stouts and black IPAs, gravity readings and mash efficiency, BJCP styles and aromas of cat pee and pine forest and damp horse blanket, then the Craft Brewers Powwow is for you. It’s your chance to spend the weekend surrounded by fellow beer fanatics. Where the person who doesn’t strike up a conversation about beer is the oddball and no one is going to judge you for playing ‘guess the SRM’.
Taking place at the Hotel Verde in Cape Town from May 5th—7th, this is the second year of the Powwow. Last year’s event was a huge success and this year is going to be even better. Here are seven reasons you need to buy a ticket.
1. You can learn from industry experts
This year’s keynote speaker is Matt Brynildson, multi award-winning brewmaster at California-based brewery, Firestone Walker. If you don’t know anything about Firestone Walker, they produce the much adored Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA, plus a host of hop-forward ales and barrel-aged brews. I am really hoping he brings us a little something to taste…
The speaker line-up this year is pretty impressive – learn about malt from none other than Thomas & Sabine Weyermann, get help choosing the right yeast for your beer from Fermentis General Manager Stephane Meulemans and get an intro to sensory training with FlavorActiv’s Aruna Singh.
2. You can win stuff for brewing great beer
On the Friday evening, join local homebrewers for a braai and a tasting of their lovingly brewed ales. The beers will be sampled by a panel of local and international judges and the winners announced at the braai. There are some superb prizes up for grabs, including some dispensing equipment guaranteed to make your parties the best on the block.
Craft brewers, don’t look away – there’s also a competition for you! Craft brewers attending the conference get free entry to the BJCP sanctioned competition. Gold and silver awards will be handed out in nine different categories, with the winners announced at the gala dinner.
Homebrewers – want to attend the Friday braai but the bank balance doesn’t stretch to the rest of the weekend? No worries. You can enter the comp and attend the braai for just R300.
3. Reuben Riffel is cooking dinner
The celeb chef is all about beer at the moment, after buying into a new Franschhoek microbrewery, and on the Saturday evening he will be pairing four courses with four local beers. As well as great food, superb beer and I dare to say, some of the most sparkling company you’ll find anywhere in Cape Town this year, you’ll also be the first to find out the winners of the craft brewer awards. And of course you’ll get to sample some of the winning beers.
4. You’re going to find out how to avoid a hangover
It’s just a short talk and not one with a big name behind it, but the Saturday session on “hangover control” with Dr Katya Evans caught my eye. I’m always looking for ways to brighten up the morning after and over the Powwow weekend I imagine I’ll need her tips, not least because:
5. You get beer breaks instead of coffee breaks
Beer conferences are just the actual best.
6. You get to go on the school trip you always wanted to go on
No museum visits or walking tours around historical cities here. Instead, the Sunday outing takes us to Franschhoek to visit two fairly new breweries – Tuk Tuk and Franschhoek Beer Company. Can you think of a better way to round off the weekend than a bus trip with a bunch of beer nerds?
7. You will be surrounded by people who want to talk about nothing else but beer
And this, for me, is the crux of it all. It doesn’t matter if you’re a craft brewer, an AB InBev brewer, a homebrewer or just a beer lover with no real interest in brewing your own. The weekend is about beer – tasting beer, understanding beer, appreciating beer, pairing beer, talking beer. The fact that you’re reading this blog (and have got this far into the post and are therefore not one of the people who found me while searching for another sort of mistress) suggests that you probably love beer a little bit. The Powwow will help you love it quite a lot more, so what are you waiting for – get your weekend pass now…