The recently launched KwaZulu Natal Beer Route offers both beer connoisseurs,
and interested travelers the excellent opportunity to look into the wonderful
world of beer brewing. The Beer Route allows travelers a series of stops at nine
small breweries in the province of KwaZulu Natal, giving them the opportunity to
experience the majestic surrounds of the Zulu Kingdom, as well as embarking on a
quest for the perfect beer.
The route kicks off from Durban, and makes its first stop at the The Firkin
Hophouse Brewery, which is located on the roof level of the well known Pavillion
shopping centre in small town of Westville. The Firkin Hophouse Brewery offers a
choice of four varieties of beer, which are brewed right on the premises. The
brewing kettles form part of the pub's décor, and a full fifteen minute tour and
explanation of the brewing process is available. The alcohol level of the beer
produced at The Firkin Hophouse Brewery is between three and five percent, and
is brewed for a period of between six to eight weeks. Between thirty and forty
percent of the malt used at Firken, is purchased from SAB (South African
Breweries), while the remainder comes from England, and the hops come from
George in the Western Cape.
The Firken Hophouse Brewery's range include the following:
* Oscar's Hophouse Larger-which is mild in taste.
* Pale Ale- which is a lighter beer, with a malty taste and is one third
bitterer than the larger.
* Bishop's Bitter - the name says it all.
* St Patrick's Porter is a dark beer very similar to Guinness, but not as heavy.
To experience the inner workings of a large scale brewery, the next destination
of the route is the South African Breweries (SAB) in Prospecton, which is the
third largest brewery in the world. This is one of the most modern breweries in
the southern hemisphere, and there are guided tours offered on a daily basis.
SAB Ltd is the South African arm of the SAB Miller group, which is the second
largest brewer in the world, and Prospecton benefits from the expertise that
being part of such a successful company brings. The Prospecton based operation
brews more than four hundred million liters of Castle Lager, Castle Milk Stout,
Castle Draught, Castle Lite, Hansa Pilsener, Amstel Lager and Redd's Premium Dry
and Cold annually.
A visit to the United National Breweries in Congella, will provide visitors with
insight into the production of sorghum beer, which is the traditional African
beer made from wheat and maize. This is the original home of the Sorghum Brewery
in Dundee, and is also the world's largest sorghum brewery, with an annual
production of between seven and nine million liters. Sorghum is the basis of a
very viable, nourishing drink for the mass market. The Brewery also features a
small pub with snacks and beer tasting.
The scenic town of Wartburg which was founded by German settlers is another
featured destination along the KwaZulu Natal Beer route. The German owner of the
Warburger Brauhaus takes immense pride in the beer which he brews. The entire
setup of the Wartburger Brauhaus was imported from Germany, and the small
brewery is located in the cellar of the hotel next door to the pub. The brewery
lives up to its name, with only two hundred litres of pure beer brewed per week.
All the ingredients are imported directly from Germany with the only exception
being the water, which comes from from the local area. Brews produced here
include the Wartburg Brauhaus Helles, and the Wartburg Brauhaus Marzen.
The Nottingham Road Brewing Company is situated on the Rawdons estate in the
KwaZulu Natal midlands, and is well known for producing some of the finest beers
available, with names like Whistling Weasel Pale Ale, Pickled Pig Porter,
Pie-eyed Possum Pilsner and Tiddly Toad Lager. These popular draughts are made
from secret recipes and use pure spring water, and adhere strictly to the
traditional German brew-master technique. Once bottled, the beer is drinkable
for up to 6 weeks.
Other breweries on the Beer Route include the IJuba-United National Breweries in
Dundee, where a small depot of the United National Sorghum Breweries (UN
Breweries) can be found. Here, in direct competition with the larger breweries,
Zulu beer brewing is carried out to produce Ijuba, which means ‘Dove’ in
Zulu.This fresh, sorghum beer is only bottled in plastic containers, of which
eighty percent is sold in twenty liter barrels, and the remainder in two liter
and eleven liter bottles. As fermentation is still in progress even after
bottling, the cap has a small hole in it, preventing the containers from
bursting.The IJuba-United National Breweries has about 100 workers producing and
distributing some 85 000 litres daily, and this forms only a small part of the
The Shongweni Brewery located in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, produces a
range which is inspired by the traditional brewing process of various European,
American, and British beers. The brewery uses live yeast, which produces
bottle-conditioned beer. This results in a beer that it is made in a similar way
to champagne. Bottle conditioned beer can also be stored as one does with wine,
and over time, the flavours will develop producing beers of amazing complexity
and taste, with a shelf life of at least a year.
The Shongweni Brewery's Range consists of the following beers:
The Flagship brew is the Robson's East Coast Ale- a smooth, lively and
refreshing golden ale.
Robson's Wheat Beer- based on some of the oldest brewing recipes from Europe.
The unmalted wheat makes up almost half of the mash and Hallertau and Saaz hops
Robson's Fruit Beers-influenced by the monastic brewers from Belgium. The
brewery uses malted barley and unmalted wheat combined with Hallertau and Saaz
hops. Depending on seasonal availability one might find them producing
pineapple, mango, strawberry, or raspberry beers, by using whole fruits in the
brewing process. The beers vary in strength from between 3.7% and 4%.
Robson's Durban Pale Ale - inspired by the original Indian Pale Ales produced in
Britian and shipped to India for consumption by the soldiers and bureaucrats.
Durban Pale Ale has been adapted to suit the South African palate, and is
slightly sweeter than most IPA’s but is well balanced by a rounded bitterness
and is 5.7%ABV.
Robson's West Coast Ale- a Californian style beer, first seen at the time of the
Gold Rush in the mid 1800's. The brewery uses two types of malt,as well as
American hops and a special strain of yeast, resulting in a beer which combines
the rich fruitiness of an ale and the thirst quenching character of a lager.
Zululand Brewing Company in Eshowe is located at The George Hotel where its
beers are available on tap at The Happy George Bar. The brewery is the smallest
on the KZN Brew Route. All the natural ingredients used in their range, are from
South Africa and abroad creating a perfect recipe of barley, wheat and hops to
create the right taste and aroma we want from our hand crafted beers. The
brewery is capable of producing a maximum of three thousand liters a month in
batches of three hundred liters.
Nearby Towns:Nottingham Road
, Curry's Post
, Mooi River
, Karkloof Nat. Reserve
, Lions River
Nearby Points Of Interest:Aladdin's De-Light
, Fort Nottingham Highland Games and Festival
, St John's Gowrie presbyterian Church
, Grape Crushing Festival
, Midlands Meander Creative Festival
, The Balgowan Conservancy
, Peter's Gate Herbal Centre
, The Rhode House Museum in Mooi River
, Mooi River Birding
, Dargle Valley Pottery
, Benvie Farm - Karkloof
, Karkloof Polo Club
, Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve
, Midmar Dam
, Midmar Mile