Safety gear is not particularly sexy but that’s about the only downside I could come up with while on a tour of SAB’s Newlands Brewery.
Kitted out in orange bib, headset and safety glasses, I was riveted for the full hour it needed to follow the path it takes for your beer to make its way into a bottle.
While I had expected to be interested in the processing and bottling that goes into bringing you a beer to enjoy with your braai, I hadn’t banked on being blown away by the rich history the brewery has to offer.
The brewery, built in the early 1800s, is a heritage site complete with artefacts and recently excavated underground tunnels.
Without trying to be too punny, the brewery has stood the test of time with the original buildings still there including the old Malt house, Oast house and Mariendahl Tower Brewery.
In 1995 the buildings were granted National Heritage status and it’s clear this plays an important role.
A few years ago archaeological excavations were done by UCT, unearthing an underground tunnel and interesting early flues of a demolished older malthouse.
It’s quite fascinating stuff and that’s not mentioning the old beer bottles and memorabilia scattered around, bringing back long-forgotten memories of elderly family members.
Just before the factory tour a lot of this history is explained, as is the importance of the spring water that goes into the brew.
Interestingly, the water is also available to anybody who wants to come and pick some up as the company has a spring water collection point on the corner of Letterstedt (yes, he of the Jacob’s Pale Ale) Road and Main Road.
Then it’s on to the processing and packaging before you circle back to enjoy a beer tasting, craft beer in our case, and all too soon it’s over.