Saturday, May 18, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Newlands Brewery – the tour

As a member of the Friends of the South African Museum, I have the opportunity to trundle off on a wide selection of cultural outings. The last one was a fabulous fossil tour in the Karoo, but today’s visit to the brewery was a closer to home experience that I chose on the spur of the moment – Carpe Diem! After many months of home labour, it is time to get out and about again, and where better than the home of South Africa’s favourite brews, Newlands Brewery, established by Jacob Letterstedt in 1820 for its convenient situation to a permanent pristine water source tumbling down from the nearby Devil’s Peak. Today this stream continues unabated even in times of drought and in fact when Cape Town was edging towards Day Zero in 2017, the brewery was ready to step into the breach and supply bottled water from their allocation. The good news is that the connection is near the source and not taken from the canalised section!

Safety gear in the form of goggles and headphones to counteract the noise, and also allow us to hear the tour guide in the noisier sections, was compulsory and the entire premises were an absolute textbook example of safety procedures and awareness of the need to be constantly alert to your surroundings. Being a product based on water, flat shoes and capable ambulation are absolute pre-requisites for visitors, with socks and shoes available for those who do not read the memo and arrive in stilettos. After signing the usual indemnity, and listening attentively to the brief safety regulations, we entered the building to see where it all started – a startlingly simple setup which has developed into an awe-inspiring layout of giant tanks, enough piping to reach from the Cape to Cairo and conveyor belts snaking throughout. The speed of packaging and the process of elimination of defective products was impressive. The technical details and statistics of consumption were staggering (if you will excuse the pun) and if I remember correctly, around 1 million units leave the premises per day! I have only touched on the wealth of information you can learn from this most enjoyable experience.

The tour takes about 1.5 hours and the expert guide allowed us to ask all sorts of questions about the brewery, from whether the used yeast goes to the Marmite factory to whether home brewers have made a dent in their market. For the answers, you will have to book a tour. It was fascinating, professional and well worth every minute. We went to the pub for a sample of our choice after the tour and a chance to chat together in a sociable pub atmosphere. I chose the Tribute Lager – not for any particular reason except that it is made in the micro brewery, Newlands Spring Brewing Co. I am not a beer drinker. This was perfect in flavour and lightness. I will look out for it in probably a specialist liquor store.

The tour is highly recommended, as is membership of the Friends of the South African Museum!

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