Darling Brewery – fantastic atmosphere and some great beer

4 min read
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Beer! Maker and destroyer of civilization! I think beer comes in two forms. There is the beer people drink to just get drunk. You know, the beer that is cheap, tastes okay(ish) and is drunk simply to lower your hand-eye coordination and inhibitions. Then there is the other beer. Beer that has guts. Beer that talks to you in whispers of spices and promises. Beer that is drunk for its taste and body and experience. You can find many of these at Darling Brewery. In, um, Darling.

Darling Brewery is located in the small town of Darling, which is 80 kms outside of Cape Town, and even though my father has lived there for years (in the town, not in the brewery) I never knew about it. I knew there must be a Darling brewery somewhere, they make beer after all. What I didn’t know was that you could visit the brewery and enjoy a tasting session that knocks the socks off many wine tasting farms.

Plenty to do for the kids

Darling Brewery have been microbrewing craft beers since 2010 and now many of their beers can be found at your local bottle store. I must say though that in order to fully appreciate their beers, tap is far superior to drinking from a bottle… and that’s exactly what I did, just for you readers. They make 15 different beers, some of which are seasonal and others only on tap – so not available in bottled form. For example the ‘Warlord’ is only available from the keg, which is just as well. Sitting at 9% vol, going through a six pack with your mates will only lead to bad situations. By the way, it is very nice (my sister couldn’t get enough of it).

So what beers are available you ask? Have a look:

I tried most of these and the difference between them is staggering. The Valentines Beer was lovely, with tart pomegranate hues across the board. It was like a cross between a cider and an alcopop – odd, but very refreshing. Next up for me was the Bloody Serpent. With honey and spices it was a strange combination but rather delightful. It is also the first ‘carbon neutral’ beer in South Africa. Emissions produced during production are offset by contributions to the Kariba Redd+ Project in Zimbabwe. Darling Brewery has the dream of being the first carbon neutral brewery, which is something we can all commend them for.

The bar is looooong. This picture doesn’t do it justice. But it is the best I’ve seen.

You can choose to enjoy your tasting either at the bar, which is pretty awesome or at one of the many tables (if they are not already booked, many were while I was there). Of course you need some guidance when sipping on your 100ml glasses (each only R10).

100ml glasses, at R10 each for the tasters.

Today we had Darryn take on the role of beer sommelier. He gave us tons information and useful suggestions on what we might try and was extremely polite and helpful, as were all the staff. Thanks Darryn!

I had to decide on whether I was going to write this for a rather obvious reason: crowds. I left just before lunch on a Sunday and the place was packing up. I can only imagine if there was more advertising done that it may turn into some over-visited brewery. However, I hope that its locale offers it some level of protection.

I honestly recommend spending an afternoon at the Darling Brewery. It is beautiful, has a fantastic atmosphere and some great beers! Also, you can book tours around the facility, which is what I’ll do next time I am up there.

Have you been to Darling Brewers? What is your favourite beer?

Atmosphere: Fun. With tastings, it always is!

Service: We sat at the bar which means we had Darryn on hand to help us within seconds. I am sure it gets busy but I can’t imagine it getting to the point where the service is bad, not with what appeared to be very well trained staff.

Food: They do have a kitchen but I didn’t get to try any food. Will fix that soon though.

Notes: The beer is great, just make sure you have a designated driver. Do not drink and drive.

TASTEROOM OPERATING HOURS
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Thursday: 9am – 5pm
Friday: 10am – 9pmSaturday: 9am – 5pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Kitchen closes 1 hour before closing time
Bookings highly recommended
Contact Tasteroom : 021 286 1099 or email [email protected]

Last Updated: January 31, 2017

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Nick Reay

I have been an avid fan of movies ever since I discovered Santa Clause wasn't real, a day marked in my memory by my first viewing of It's a Wonderful Life, which wasn't so wonderful that day. Since then I've watched thousands of movies and even fooled my parents into putting me through uni to get a degree in the subject. I first started writing as a journalist for The South African Newspaper before moving onto communications for an NGO trying to save the planet. Unfortunately my recommendations to the CEO that we should all don rings imbued with the powers of earth, fire, wind, water and HEART went unheard. Now I pretend the end isn't nigh by hiding in movies.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    No need to guess what beers Nick & Otto gravitate towards.

    • You shut up. This is serious space!

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        You lifestyle is a LAUGHstyle!

    • I cant afford craft beer anymore. So I will gravitate to Castle thanks 🙂

  • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

    Oh my… I’ve only had the slow brew so far, and I didn’t realise they had such a wide variety.

    • Hammersteyn

      Same here

    • Admiral Chief

      Slow brew is mediocre at best, really not an impressive beer tbh

      • HvR

        Also not my favourite.

        Their Rogue Pony Ale i quite good.

        The Warlord is excellent.

        Sad that they stopped Bonecrusher, was their best beer IMHO. And had the coolest label.

        • Eh? I had it on Sunday.

          • HvR

            It is back? Told me last year that is didn’t fit in with their brand orientation blah blah blah…..

          • It’s in the main picture for this article. Wonder what they were going on about. It’s also on their site. Maybe they changed their minds? Agree with the food prices too.

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        Your face is mediocre!!! :O

        • Admiral Chief

          The company I work for make magnificent beer, makes Slow Brew taste like the new Lion lager

          • HvR

            The new lion lager that is the original lion lager or the last lion lager that was the new lion lager which was the precursor to Castle Lite.

          • And absolutely no bias in that statement 😛

          • Admiral Chief

            I take beer very seriously, and the slow beer really is mediocre.

            Our ale really is some of the best I’ve ever tasted, if not THE best.

            The others are quite nice, but the ale takes the cake

            I’ll send you a link on Skype if you want?

          • HvR

            No doubt it will be good; but doubt it beat out Brewdog’s Dead Pony.

    • Yeah. Some were meh, but most were damn good man. The Warlord kicked ass.

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        Wasn’t the Warlord too manly for you? I mean aren’t you generally a low-cal light cider kind of “man”. Tee Hee!

  • MonsterCheddar

    Will be nice to try out. I’m very skeptical toward Craft beers as a lot of them taste like crocodile piss.

    • Yeah always ask for a taste test first and it also depends on what you feel like.. a typical English Ale is great.. but not really on a scorching hot day.

      also, I hate IPA’s.. all of them

      • PurplePariah

        Yeah but IPA’s are shit. So you know.

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        I like Speckled Hen, but I’ve been struggling to find it in South Africa.

        • Admiral Chief

          What about spotted dick?

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Yeah, that’s an ale and a pudding….

    • HvR

      The problem is the one man bands since they do not have access to proper preservative and sterilization equipment a batch can go of real quick.

      Rule of thumb if it smells like seaweed or nat-poep, rather do not taste it.

      • PurplePariah

        Mmm CBC Pilsner. Still the only beer that still tastes good when it’s warm.

      • Admiral Chief

        DP Pale Ale is quite good, I must say.

        • HvR

          My favourite from the “budget line”, First Light still the best.

          Black Southeaster. a black IPA was last year ends seasonal beer and was awesomeness

          • Admiral Chief

            You should try some of ours, I think you’d like em

          • HvR

            You can always ship me some free stock 🙂

            Are you in any of the main shops yet?

          • Admiral Chief

            Jip, will send you link on discord

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Send me a link on Skype, old man!

          • Ir0nseraph

            Send me a link to please, would like try some if one of the shops close to me has stock.

          • HvR

            ODDSOCK ODDSOCK COME IN SEND ADMIRAL ADVERTISEMENT INVOICE!!!!!

          • Ir0nseraph

            XD

          • Admiral Chief

            LEL, well, it is a co.za domain, first word is a primary colour, (not blue or yellow) and the second word is something you can throw, is found in the ground and a type of music

            Add it all together with no hyphens, and voila

          • Ir0nseraph

            LOL thanks for that, and I even need to verify my age.

          • Admiral Chief

            xD

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Aaaww.. I thought you were with Flying Fish!

          • HvR

            Then he will never hear the end of it. Worse than being a Brony

          • Admiral Chief

            IT’S A TRAP?

          • Ir0nseraph

            Hey he said he worked for a real beer brewery.

          • Admiral Chief

            LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Hahahah!

    • Hammersteyn

      True

    • Admiral Chief

      You still need to try some of ours!

      Especially the ale, deliciousness kwadraat

      • MonsterCheddar

        I will send you my address. 😛

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      I found a weird coffee-bean craft beer at a night market once, and it was practically undrinkable. I think much like with JRPGs, Anime, Bollywood movies and Rincey’s collection of tea pots… it’s hit or miss really – mostly misses TBH

      But I appreciate Rincey going out to Darling and showcasing some of our local craftbeers.

      • HvR

        As soon as it goes coffee, pomegranate, honey or fooking pumpkin.

        it is that step too far, then you should rather just buy artificially flavoured sletsappie

        • I thought the same thing. The pomegranate was actually really nice, like a cider.

          • HvR

            Found pomegranate sweetness takes too much away from the classic beer taste and not enough to make it something different (should never taste like someone just chucked in a tot of pomegranate juice in a beer) and the bitter aftertaste of the pomegranate clash with the hops

          • I love the tartness of it so was happy. But I see what you are saying.

          • Admiral Chief

            You are just a tart

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            I like the occasional shandy, but I guess it depends on the kind of beer though…

          • HvR

            I also indulge in occasional beer shandy and (not too sweet) cider.

      • You shut up! My teapots are all beautiful!

  • Hammersteyn

    I never drink and drive. I drink then I drive

    • MonsterCheddar

      I drink and let my wife drive. Her code name is Designated Dave.

      • Hammersteyn

        I need one of those

        • Admiral Chief

          You need a Dave?

          • PurplePariah

            Suddenly, Danger Dave makes a whole lot of sense.

          • MonsterCheddar

            This is Cape Town, son, you don’t even whisper of drinking and driving. Die boere hieronder is nie so deur die kak soos anderkant die tonnel nie. They are like Cleaners, Rikers and LMB in the Division. Everywhere.

          • MonsterCheddar

            DD, so it doesn’t sound gay.

          • Hammersteyn

            Dave is bae…. wait what?

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      I drink, then sleep…. then drive

  • HvR

    The reason why haven’t heard of it is because the actual brewery only opened late 2015.

    My experience echoes Nick’s.

    One the food, bit pricey for the portions especially the platters and the wait can veeery long on busy weekends. But the food tasted great, tsted the cheese and and meat platters and also had a burger. pretty much all the ingredients are locally sourced and fresh.

  • Admiral Chief

    Rogue Pony, you mean Otto?

  • Weanerdog

    I think that this Cape Town Reviewer, whoever he is, should do a whole series of vegan restaurant reviews.

    • Admiral Chief

      xD

    • Admiral Chief

      ☚ (<‿<)☚

    • you cad!

      • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

        Dude… do chicken pies of Cape Town!!!!!

        • Only if you help!

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Duuudddeeeee <3

        • Holy crap. I should do food on UCT’s campus 0_O

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Your food travels should actually be made into a youtube show.

            “G’day, I’m Nick Reay, and today we’re venturing to the heart of Cape Town; It’s delicious food. Watch me take on the finest bobotie of bokaap, the biggest gatsby in Rylands, and we’ll also be exploring fine dining among the elite of the Cape – like that weirdo Grant Hinds….”

          • I have thought about it already. Plans are a foot!

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Do it! Because I fear the northern barbarians think there’s nothing around our glorious mountain except dirty naked hippies!

          • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

            Sure we have lots of dirty hippies, but they wear shorts…. DAMNIT!!!!

          • HvR

            You have to travel to Grabouw as well for Hickory Shack. Freaking carnivore heaven. Book and the Smoke master/chef said not do Sunday afternoons; they get waaay too busy and having chat with him while he has some time in the smoking shack is definitely part of the experience.
            https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/Restaurant_Review-g1593206-d10247964-Reviews-The_Hickory_Shack-Elgin_Western_Cape.html

          • ohhh, I need to go there!

  • Admiral Chief

    Also, just remember folks, just because someone makes craft beer, doesn’t make it GOOD beer. Always try before you buy

    • Banana Jim’s Final Form!

      Truth has been spoken!

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