How does the saying go? "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Or is it: "When life gives you lemons, learn to juggle?"
However it goes, making good from a bad situation seems to be commonplace and often a necessity in the days of COVID-19. And that's exactly what Paul and Jules Sparkes from BeerNoEvil (above right) and Jason and Cherie Armfield from Blackwood Brewhouse (above left) have done in recent weeks.
After news broke that the 2021 Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival was cancelled, the owners of the two SA brewing companies needed to think quick in order to sell the beer they'd brewed for the festival. Neither has a dedicated taproom through which to reach customers and thus feared being left with excess stock they couldn't shift.
Not to be beaten by circumstances, they came up with an idea: to throw their own mini-beer festival instead.
It's set to take place this coming weekend (August 21 and 22) at the Blackwood Community Centre, with the Beer & BBQ reboot turning out to be quite the unique little event. On offer will be the beers initially destined as festival specials: in Blackwood's case, that's an eclectic mix of styles, including a Belgian Saison, German Hefe, a NEIPA, a rye pale ale, a Cascadian dark ale and a Wee Heavy; BeerNoEvil fans can look out for a double IPA, a red IPA, a chocolate and hazelnut stout, and their single hop Mosaic IPA.
Completing the festival feel will be Fancy Burger, delivering goods from across the street, with Balfours gourmet pies and pastries on offer too. BeerNoEvil’s passion for heavy metal will be sated by the presence of Underground Records, while Black Match candles are bringing their soy wax candles along for sale as well.
For the non-beer drinkers, SA Distilling Company will be serving their Heaps Good Gin, made with South Australian ingredients, such as Riverland orange, finger lime, saltbush, and natively foraged pink pepper.
For those new to the brewing companies, BeerNoEvil have been on the scene since in July 2020, brewing beer at a number of breweries in SA. The Sparkes take inspiration from their love of heavy metal music, as can be seen in their beer names: Jinjer, Insomnium and Iron Maiden are just a few of the bands to feature.
Last December, they were invited to produce a beer for the Carwyn Cellars Canvent calendar, offering up a welcome session IPA amongst a gamut of adjunct-ladened beasts, and appeared as an Honourable Mention in The Crafty Pint's Best New SA Beers of 2020.
Blackwood Brewhouse, however, are even newer kids on the block, launching with a very quiet cheer in February 2021. After homebrewing for many years, it was Jason’s wife Cherie who encouraged him to take the next step and test the waters of the commercial world.
Brewing at his Blackwood home, Jason first overcome many council hurdles before the couple were gained the requisite approvals. The main obstacle came when they applied for a licence to serve beer to the public from the balcony of their family home.
“We have a beautiful balcony at the front of our house that is surrounded by trees," Jason says, "and we thought it would be a great place to serve our beer.”
After several months of back-and-forth, Jason and Cherie successfully argued their case and were approved for a tasting room they could open once a month for 45-minute sessions of ten people each, sessions that have since attracted waiting lists.
Given he's still brewing on a 100 litre system, Jason says he worked overtime to ensure he was ready for Beer & BBQ.
“I brew beer that I would like to drink and miss the variety of styles presented in Australia today," he says, "for example hefeweizens.”
He says they view 2021 as a year of experimentation, as they gauge how successful Blackwood Brewhouse can be, before potentially expanding in 2022.
For now, however, it's all eyes on the Blackwood Community Centre and ensuring his and BeerNoEvil's festival beers reach the hands of eager punters. At time of writing, ticket allocations were already exhausted for four of the five sessions, which suggests they shouldn't have a problem achieving that target. Provided, of course, SA escapes the tentacles of the latest COVID outbreak a few days longer...
You can book tickets for the festival here.