SAB beer heritage tour 2011

SAB Newlands brewery - the home of South African beer

I was invited to go on the South African Breweries (SAB) beer heritage tour last week and what and amazing three days we had.

It was an opportunity to get up close and personal with the entire beer production process from the hop farms, through the barley malting part and finally onto the brewing and bottling stage.

On each of these stages we met the expert SAB men behind the process.

Gerrie, Angus and Denis

We flew to George to visit the only area on the African continent that has the suitable climate to grow hops. We saw the crop being harvested on the farm and processed through the picking machines and the kiln.  It was fascinating for me to see and smell for the first time, the plant that gives beer its flavour.

the hop kernel on the hop plant
the hops growing up trellised vines, a highly labour intensive process
the hops are harvested by cutting the bottom and then the top of the plant on its string trellis
the hops being processed through the picking machine and then the kiln to dry them

After our morning on the hops farm we checked into our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa and had a relaxing afternoon before heading to Knysna for dinner.

In Knysna we experienced Castle Milk Stout (draft) with Oysters. As an oysters with bubbly kind of girl, I was blown away by this perfect and delicious pairing.

Castle milk stout and oysters: a match made in heaven

On our second day we were up bright and early to catch a plane back to Cape Town and then get on a bus to Caledon, the barley growing region and to visit the Malting facility.

Angus gave us an in depth lecture and tour of the barley malting process
on the bus back to Cape Town through pretty farmland
We boarded the Peroni yacht for a cruise around Cape Town harbour
a couple of refreshing Peroni's on board and majestic views of our Mother city

Our tour conincided with the SAB sponsored Eat in Night market and awards ceremony, so we were whisked off to that.

the Eat In magazine night market and awards ceremony at the Biscuit Mill
me, bumping into a few foodie friends
stalls at the market including Richard Bosman's fine charcuterie
the market on for the first time at night
Anton dispensing the limited edition craft beers: Newlands Extra Special Stout and Sunset Wheat beer and Elize Goffe-Wood and Peters dad selling their legendary steak rolls

On our last day we visited Newlands brewery to meet Denis da Silva and do a tour of the heritage centre, the brewery and the packaging plant.

part of the original brewery, a herb garden creatively using beer crates and a statue of Charles Glass
the packaging plant where hundreds of bottles are processed every minute

I was super impressed that 80% of all SAB beer produced is sold in recycled material.

lunch at Caveau in Newlands and the end of the tour

What a fantastic opportunity it was to be exposed to the making of beer by one of South Africa’s largest and most influential companies.


  1. Julian Remba says:

    I’m so pleased “an oysters with bubbly kind of girl” like you enjoyed the Milk Stout combo! Thank you coming along.


  2. Hi Julian, yes I am now a stout (castle) convert. Such a nutritious drink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *