Secret Jozi Places: Beers in the west, cocktails in the east

First 15 Brewery, 66 Carr St, Newtown

On the last Saturday of 2019, I joined a Joburg Places tour with Gerald [Garner] and Charlie [Moyo]’s  of their “Favourite Secret Jozi Places”.  And the first place we stopped was First 15 Brewery at 66 Carr St Newtown. What an amazing space, concept and story.  

The Space

Premier Milling Newtown 2016 Source:

The building which houses First 15 at 66 Carr St dates back to 1916, three years after Joffe Marks merged Marks and Co with Premier Roller flours to become Premier Milling company Ltd, with its headquarters in Newtown.  In 2002 when Premier Milling moved to Woodmead, the buildings in Newtown were sold to various developers.  In its abandoned state 66 Carr St became a nightclub suffering severe damage from a fire in 2003. The Johannesburg Development Agency commissioned Urban Solutions to compile a report on Newtown including the area around the mills.  And this is how Paul Wygers (of Urban Solutions) both renovated 66 Carr street and also ran his makapara-making workshop from this building for the Soccer World Cup in 2010.

First 15 opened in November 2019

First 15 Brewery 66 Carr St Newtown

And the most recent venture which only opened in November 2019, is an amazing brewery run by 3 entrepreneurs. Called First 15 because the 3 partners’ friendship and bond date back to their school days when they all played first team rugby. Kgotso Mokhatle is an accountant, Phumlani Khulu is the “creative” and Langa Ntloko is the brewer. Langa completed his Institute of Brewing and Distilling Diploma in 2014 while working for SAB Newlands brewery where he was also a qualified advanced taster. He left SAB in 2015, moving to the craft brewery, Drifter before beginning on the First 15 venture.


Kgotso and Phumlani

Beer and Gin now; Vodka and Rum coming up  

Golden Giraffe: a pale ale and one of four beers brewed by First 15
View of the bar and dining tables with First 15’s brewing tanks in the background
Tasting offerings: 4 gins-beer and 4 beers. I find all gin mixers a bit cloying but the anise gin is delicious

After a couple more stops: Little Addis in the Medical Arts Building 220 Jeppe Street and Maboneng North to see a new public art work, we ended up at the rooftop bar and deck at Hallmark house on Siemert Street.  I wrote about Hallmark House in 2017  but since then, in true Jozi Fashion, things have changed.  When Propertuity (the main driver in the renovation of this luxury hotel and apartment block) went into liquidation, one of the shareholders in Hallmark House, Steyn City Properties (Saxon Hotel fame) bought the building. While the building comprises a hotel (4 floors 46 rooms) and 8 floors of apartments, the 15th floor has now been turned into the most stunning rooftop deck and bar. It seems its long-term name is Triple Nine, although we visited it as D’usse, a six-week pop-up cocktail bar. Whatever the name, the setting with its 360 degree view Joburg is spectacular. The food is superb and as the wine was very pricey (R150 upwards for wine by the glass), we settled for a delicious fruit punch.  

Fruit punch was our choice
View to the north
View over Hillbrow with the Hillbrow [Telkom] Tower on the left and Ponte on the right. For more on Ponte
During the early 2010s Jozi  become known worldwide for its street art. This is one of my favourites by Belgian artist Rao I  Art Joburg  initiative of 2012
Sitting on the edge of the plunge pool dangling legs in the cool water while sipping cocktails and taking in the Jozi skyline – life could get worse!
And a wonderful day comes to an end. Thanks #JoburgPlaces for a great afternoon.

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