I have recently had not so great experiences at three of Johburg’s big markets. The whole prospect of a market was quiet niche, roundabout 3 or 4 years ago. We could all escape the rubbish confines of malls and experience something that had a hint of exclusivity, with the limited days open and the small scale personalised stalls.

Unfortunately over the years the beast a.k.a. the business bottom line caught up with these fledgling markets and the beast had to feed. Collectively I believe the niche that one experienced at these gatherings was doomed to become everyday with the markets (or the people) at the markets maturing like the cheddar at the stalls. Consumers tastes in things went from broad to selective. The markets heralded a new level for the consumers, but then the consumers tastes grew in the following years and the markets did not. Sandton Craft Beer Fair & Gourmet Food Festival must have been the punch to the kidneys in the unannounced school yard fight three years ago, but we all have been to prison since and we expected a kick between the legs at least.

The weekend markets have grown impotent. Craft beer is not special anymore, sorry. Having places like “Capitalist Craft” and “Beer/Bru House” strewn around the “Gteng” makes it really feel like a case of normal beer (or 2 bottles of craft) down the drain when one pays R150 for entrance. The music was forgettable and the vibe created by having “Amazeballs” sell some balls to the kindergarten of the newly breds does not create the mood for a good time. At the Sandton Craft Beer Fair & Gourmet Food Festival you sprain your ankle while getting out the portaloo (true story, ask my brother) and you have to chill on sports fields filled with hay bails. All makes this you wanna say HAY! I mean HEY! in a very non James Brown way.

There is atmosphere when you go to a micro”bru”errer. Copper and pipes dazzle your microbrain as you sip on beer and try and look interested when Llewellyn explains how much barley he used for stout somewhere next to the Magalies. There is vibe and authenticity and its free.

I had nice beers from Smack though and I thought the game from Copperlake was a devilish crowd pleaser. I dig these places, but I feel the worthwhile events have shifted from the pioneers-turned-heavy-weights to the spirited underdogs. Please go check out the Market at The Sheds, good prices, same stuff (more or less), less jocks, cool venue and it’s in Pretoria, so much win.

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