Do you like beer? No? Me neither. Should you still go on Newlands Brewery tour? Absolutely!
Ever since my other half went on the tour and he came back with a certificate, raving about how much fun it was, I had decided, I HAD to go.
I also wanted a certificate (goodie bags and certificates… they’re like stamp collecting for me).
I found a post on their Facebook offering half price on Wednesdays. What’s better than half price anything??!!
Luckily they had a tour starting at 6pm, so we could go as soon as I finished work, brave the traffic into Newlands and get rewarded with beer (says the one who doesn’t even drink the stuff). We arrived and met our very friendly tour guide, Morgan, who instructed us to get kitted out in the sexiest gear ever (not really). You get an orange bib, goggles – although this is where my failing eyesight saved me as I simply kept my glasses on – a lanyard with the rules and safety guidelines printed on it just to remind you not to be an idiot, and a super cool headset. Once we were properly dressed, we got quite an interesting lesson on the history and workings of the brewery. I love that the history is so important to them, and that they haven’t forgotten the people who started the magic of their beer.
We heard all about Jacob Letterstedt built the original Mariendahl Brewery, the country’s oldest commercial brewery in the early 1800s. Up to when SAB took over Newlands Brewery, and until now it runs and serves us with beer.
From there we went through the brewery, seeing the boiler room, the tanks where the beer sits to ferment etc. These rooms had the smell of beer cooking. Have you smelt beer cooking? Smells like porridge – be warned! We went up about four floors of steps to get to the packaging room, Newlands employees must reach their step goals EVERY DAY. The packaging was my favourite part, even though we were really high up looking down on the factory floor, which challenged my fear of heights. Each machine has a specific job, and they all run smoothly with each other. We also got to witness first hand the precision that Newlands takes with their beers. One simple imperfection with either the beer or bottles, and they are scrapped and started again. It is quite fascinating to watch the process and what is actually takes to get those beers to your fridge.
Finally, we made our way to the pub, where a delightful array of SAB beers was set out for us to taste. Again, I’m not a beer drinker, but according to my fiance I couldn’t have the full experience unless I completely emptied my tasting glasses, and not one to back down from any sort of drinking challenge, I accepted. Even the chocolate milk stout and OMG was that not the nicest thing I’ve ever tasted (mostly because I don’t drink it). We did get to taste the new Flying Fish Cool. That is something I would take to a braai.
After the tasting, we used tokens that we had been given at the start of the tour to taste other beers in the pub – you can’t use money, only tokens. I tried their very own ale from their new microbrewery called Passionate Blond, which I did actually enjoy. The fiancé tried that and their other beer, Mountain Weiss, which I found way too bitter. We had the third ale from the microbrewery, Jacobs Pale Ale as one of the tastings, and I assume Jacob is Jacob Letterstedt but I’m unfortunately not a fan of his Pale Ale. Again, this all comes from a wine and brandy drinker. My beer-drinking fiancé enjoyed his beers very much.
Even though the actual beer part wasn’t my scene, the tour itself was a great experience, to learn the history of the building, the working of the brewery and all about South African Breweries in general was enlightening. You can see that the beer is made with passion. One thing I absolutely loved was all the posters around the brewery, these had facts and little sayings and you can see that the company is about more than just beer and money.
The staff as well, everyone was super friendly and the vibe in the pub was like visiting a small town local, with people you see every week.
Definitely something to try at least once, although somehow, I didn’t get my certificate…. So, I’ll be going back, obviously!