The Brew, the Barrels, and Flipping the Bird

with Graeme Bird

May 2, 2018

In episode 02 of the podcast we head to the beach with a brew in hand. Ok so we didn’t quite get to the beach, or have a brew, but we did talk a lot about both. 
I’d become aware of a brand of craft beer around Durban called Poison City and what struck me, other than the surfboards in the shape of a marijuana leaf, was the distinct Durban feel to their branding. And as it happened, on the suggestion from a friend, I contacted one of the founding members, Graeme Bird, to find out what why and how they decided to use Durban surf culture to base a brand on.

And from that I really wanted to get to the essence of Durban Surf culture, maybe the tip of the iceberg to start, but to see what Graeme’s experiences and lifestyle have involved to shape one person’s perception of their and my city.

I headed to Station Drive off Umgeni Road which, as the name suggests, is right next to the railways lines. The U shaped road was buzzing with people on the sidewalks, jammed parkings, old warehouses branded with bright artwork and new hangouts for all types. The Durban heat and humidity didn’t disappoint. (When leaving, the car guard even complained that my pile of change was burning his hand).
The South Coast: it’s one of the highest quality stretches of surfing coast in the world, anywhere. It’s just incredible in that there are all these rivers creating bays and it’s literally bay, after bay, after bay running down there. From a surfing perspective the South Coast was paradise.”
A caffeine brew
After buzzing through the iron gate I climbed the stairs, passing the brewery on the second floor and reaching the top floor where the sounds and smells of Durban permeated the light-filled offices. The one distinct smell, was not of beer but coffee.

André Schubert, the other half of the Poison City Brewing team, graciously brewed me a beverage of the caffeine persuasion. And I was able to have that just before Graeme emerged…


YOU MIGHT LIKE: The Isipingo Local, the Surfer and the Combi
In the 60s and 70s, counterculture was epitomised by hippies. In Durban it was surfing. Part of the Culture Shift task is to get to those untold stories of the early days of surf in Durban from those who grew up in it  – and not just from the pro surfers, but the Durbanites (and other cities) that ride those waves religiously every day.

Graeme tells us about the history of one of the things that us non-surfers take for granted – the piers and the impact they have had for surfers: THE WAVES!

Poison City Brewing

Map illustrating the original Patterson Groynes (built mid 1950s) and the “new” piers (built early 1980s).

In 2016, Zigzag Magazine featured an article on the Durban piers and their impact on the surf and the environment. READ HERE 

Nearby storefront artwork in Station Drive
“I think the Durban surfer has quite a good reputation in the surfing respect for being quite hard charging and maybe being a bit on the wild side.”

Be sure to pick up a kiff brew sometime and head to the beach. Durban is the place for both.

Find out more info on Graeme Bird and Poison City Brewing here and on Facebook.

Stephen (left), Graeme Bird (right).