We’re heading out on the adventure of a lifetime to see the blooming of the Namaqualand daisies, and the feeling of spring is in the air! The afternoon sun stretches our car’s shadow far across the golden veld as we approached the outskirts of Bloemfontein. We’re listening to our awesome chill playlist on Soundcloud, and life is good. The city might carry the benign label ‘City of Roses’, but may come across as a prickly, knotty old thing and prone to dishing out a few scratches to those outsiders like us. But luckily, that’s where Google maps comes in!
We took the car down President Brand Street and drove past the city’s magnificent and quite famous sandstone buildings: The City Hall, the Fourth Raadsaal, and the Old Presidency Museum.
After a classic Wimpy breakfast, we thought neither of us had been to Bloemfontein before, so why not take a pitstop for the night? We wondered where is a good place to have a drink, so we hopped on Google Maps and searched for ‘local craft breweries’ and decided to give the one and only Famous Brew and Still a shot.
Bloemfontein has recently seen a boom of entrepreneurial skill and there is now an environment that rewards innovation, resulting in local breweries and the arts flourishing.
After driving up to the Famous Brew and Still and seeing the vibe, we would have convinced ourselves that we were in Parkhurst!
Famous Brew’s handmade craft beers are proudly on display at the bar, which is equipped with draught taps of all their brews. On it is a small sign showing that they also offer a nifty beer tasting night, which sadly we didn’t get to be a part of but it’s something to look forward to next time.
What you drink is a sign of your identity, your tribe. And this is something that people in the city of roses have clearly embraced. For those who are not beer fans, you can sample their famous Pirate’s Curse Rum & Cola or their Rose Gin & Tonic (after all we were in the city of roses), all available on tap. We tried their Cerevi Lager, Cascade Blonde and Copper Cream Ale, and we were not disappointed!
With the morning’s Wimpy breakfast wearing off, we decided to grab a bite to eat. Very particular of Free State catering is the variety and portions. From Indian cuisine to biltong, there was a satisfactory selection of foods. I wish I could review them all but I failed to remove ourselves from the spicy fried halloumi.
Delighted with the food our attention turned to the satisfying live music on offer from the local Harley Club. These guys kept our feet tapping all the way through the night.
In between performances we were lucky enough to have a chat with the owner, Phillip. His success story saw him start off as a home brewer in 2000, and in 2009, Phillip and his buddy decided to take this hobby a little further. They scaled up from home brewing to a fully-fledged 500L brewery setup.
After many early mornings and late evenings, they started to produce their first batches of beer. They wanted to brew Ales at the time, but being in Bloemfontein, the market forced them to brew a lager style beer. Locals simply did not believe their beers were any good until they tasted their Cerevi Lager.
This convinced the Bloemfontein public that they knew a little something about brewing. The ale-style beers were in fact very popular, and a little craft beer drinking culture promotion was needed to make people appreciate the more interesting and complex styles of beer.
After a few years, his buddy decided to make a lifestyle change and moved down to the coast. This gave Phillip the full share of the business, and a bit more free reign as far as the future of the business was concerned. He changed the name of the brewery to The Famous Brew & Still, to promote the whole process behind brewing his beer’s.
His wife Lucille and a bunch of good friends are always willing to lend a hand and enjoy a cold one with the regulars. They love to see people have a good time, in a responsible way, with the products that they craft with their own hands. Its hard work, but they always have a good time meeting new people and sharing their special moments with them.
What’s more exiting is Phillip is starting a brewpub, five minutes away from the Bloemfontein Airport on the banks of the Renosterspruit.
Taking a break from all the beer, which all went down well, we needed a rest to keep on track. We can’t wait to see the blooming of the Namaqualand daisies!
It was truly wonderful to explore the city of Roses. It is a beautiful and friendly city, and it is so much more than a just pitstop on the N1.
RATING: The Famous Brew and Still 5 out of 5
Opening times: Wed – Sun 11am-10pm
Reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Phillip at 084 6277 626