7 brilliant breweries to explore

2013-10-17 15:56
I bet no hoity toity snob in the whole of history ever thought that beer - that gruff and manly drink that brings bloating and burps - would one day become fashionable!

Along with coffee and bread, artisan/craft beer has taken off as a foodie trend and visiting a micro-brewery has become a favourite item on many-a travellers' itinerary. 

We take a look at seven of the best across the country

Birkenhead, Walker Bay Estate, Stanford

If you're not quite sold on the idea of drinking beer just yet, Walker Bay estate is a great place to start, as they claim the title of being the first brewing AND wine estate in the southern hemisphere. So, you can wash down their Birkenhead Honey Blonde Ale with a light Shiraz Rose. 

Located on the R326 just outside Stanford, Birkenhead currently offers a selection of six brews, including: the classic Premium Lager, a light and lovely Honey Blonde Ale, an Old English bitter called Pride, the slightly sweet Birkenhead Pilsner, a sensuous Chocolate Malt Stout and to top it all off - Black Snake, which is only for the really brave!

Apart from beer and wine tasting, you can also enjoy delicious meals at the Birkenhead restaurant, which offers amazing views of the Klein River Mountains. 

Times: Brewery tours are available on advanced request from Mondays to Fridays between 11:00 and 15:00. Check out the Walkerbay Estate website for more details. 

Hops Hollow, Long Tom Pass

Situated at the highest point of Mpumalanga's Long Tom Pass, 34km from Sabie and 16km from Lydenburg, Hops Hollow is the perfect spot to escape those hot summer bushveld days. The beautiful stone building with its dark wood furniture and terracotta tiles is something like an old English oasis in the African lowveld... and then of course the rich, cold craft brews to quench your thirst!

They offer a selection of four creatively named brews that cater for a wide variety of tastes: light and fruity Diggers Draught, the aromatic Old Bull Ale, the macho Mac's Porter and finally the spicy Blacksmith's Brew. 

Apart from sampling their beers, you can also enjoy all day breakfast, lunch and dinner at the pub. And if you've had one too many, be sure to check in at the B&B.

Check out the Hops Hollow website for more information

Sneeuberge Brewery, Nieu Bethesda

(Sneeuberge website)

Just when you thought this central Karoo town couldn't get any more quaint than it already is, what with the owl house and all, The Brewery and Two Goats Deli pops onto your radar. Set under hundred-year-old pear and pepper trees and next to a stream of natural spring water, this family-run business offers an array of hand-produced goods, including cheese, salami, coffee and... yes, beer!

Their beer offering consists of three different ales - the standard Karoo, the light and slightly sweet Honey Blonde and a dark stout-type Roasted Ale. 

They're open everyday till 17:00 and 15:00 on Sundays. 

Check out the Sneeuberge Brewery website for more details.

The Dog and Fig Brewery, Parys

Home to the Vredefort Dome, Parys is quite a hub for adventurous urbanites to practice their extreme sports - whether climbing, mountain biking, hiking or rafting. 

And what better way to end off a busy morning of exercise than downing an ice cold draught. Located just a few km outside of town, the Dog and Fig Brewery offers guests a selection of five beers with funky alliterative English/Afrikaans names. They include: The Wafferse/Wicked Weiss, Baldadige/Boisterous Buchu, an English IPA infused with the South African herb, Alternatiewe/AlternativeAlt, Aardige/Agreeable Ale and the Stewige/Sturdy Stout. 

The brewery is open on week days from 07:00 to 16:00 and only open on request on weekends. 
Check out the Dog and Fig Facebook page for more details.

Porcupine Quill, Botha's Hill

Located about a 40 minute drive from Durban in the Valley of 1000 Hills, Porcupine Quill is a small brewery with a large range of beers. Their brews come in three different ranges: the Porcupine Quill and African Moon labels are lighter, and include a blonde ale, an amber ale and an English-style bitter, while the Dam Wolf range offers full-flavoured, high-alcohol beers.

Apart from sipping beer, the brewery is also home to a selection of artisanal breads, cheeses and deli meats. The Valley of 1000 Hills is also a well-established tourist route, and there is lots to be experienced. The Umgeni Steam Railway is a highlight and, if you're passionate about nature, there are no less than 15 conservancies to explore. 

For more information, visit the Porcupine Quill website

Black Horse, Magaliesberg

(Black Horse Facebook page)

A scenic hour or so drive from Johannesburg will take you right to the doorstep of one of the country's most picturesque breweries. Located in the gorgeous Magaliesberg region, the family-run Black Horse brewery is all about the experience - sip an ice cold beer, enjoy a wood-fired pizza and soak up the lush surrounds. 

Their beer range currently consists of the delicate Golden Lager, the bittersweet Red Ale and the rich and creamy Honey Porter. Being family friendly, they also have a special ginger beer for those with a sweeter tooth. 

The brewery is located on the Magalies Meander, making it a great pit stop for those looking to explore the surrounding areas. 

The restaurant and bar are open Wednesday to Sunday (and on public holidays) from 08:00 till late.
Check out the Black Horse website for more details

Cockpit Brewhouse, Cullinan

This cute little brewery/restaurant could perhaps be the perfect package - great food and excellent beer served in a laid-back environment. 

It's located a quick and easy drive along the R513 from Pretoria (+/- 40minutes) or just under 100km from Jo'burg along the N1 and R513 and owned by aviation enthusiast André de Beer.

He offers a range of five beers, each dubbed with a catchy aviation-inspired moniker: the Helles Belles Blonde Ale, the Fokker Weiss, Spitfire English Pale Ale, Mustang American Pale Ale and Black Widow Stout. Apart from these, Andre also produces a variety of seasonal ales which are famous for their extreme flavours. 

Once you've indulged in a brew or two and had your fill of hearty pub-style meals, be sure to explore the quaint town of Cullinan on foot - it's a hub of amazing art galleries and eateries. 

Cockpit is open on Thursdays from 12:00 to 21:00, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 to 21:00 and Sunday 11:00 to 16:00.

Check out the Cockpit website for more details

Read more on:    travel  |  holidays  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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