Birkenhead Brewery and Wine Estate in Stanford boasts a 3-in-one experience in a superb natural setting just 20 minutes from Gansbaai. Here they brew 6 diffferent kinds of beer, grow and make four different wines under the name Walker Bay Vineyards and runs a water bottling plant at source from the crystal clear water from the Stanford eye aquifer.
There are at least five reasons to visit Birkenhead Brewery and Wine Estate in Stanford. The obvious one is that you get to taste the various delectable liquids produced here from the riches of the earth. The other reasons are equally tantalising to both the eyes and palate.
Situated in the lush, verdant valley of Stanford overlooking the Klein River Mountains, the 1852 Birkenhead Estate boasts a magnificent setting in spectacular landscapes in the heart of the Overberg's rich and diverse floral kingdom. Outdoors one can feast the eyes on young, multi-hued vineyards and fynbos flower-clad mountains as far as the eye can see. Inside, a spacious restaurant and pub featuring a huge fireplace and sweeping views offer delicious meals and snacks to complement the estate's own beers, wines and bottled water. A guided tour through the impressive brewery takes you through the various fascinating processes involved in making the smooth, golden liquid from rather unappealing barley, yeast and sugar. Last, but not least, a trip to the vineyards and water bottling plant on the same premises will enlighten you as to where the pure, tasty Chrystal Fynbos bottled water and the delicate Walker Bay Vineyards wine originate from.
Benson, our eager and knowledgeable guide, has been a beer maker at Birkenhead since 2000 and knows the ins and outs of the impressive plant by heart. He was taught by a true Brew Master who developed various beer recipes by perfecting a fine combination of different malt in varying quantities, exact boiling times and temperatures and a lengthy process of fermentation, cooling, filtering and pasteurisation adding hobs, sugar and yeast. An informative tour through the plant reveals that shining copper kettles are used to control the temperature in the beer brewing process versus stainless steel tanks for wine making. The distinctive colour of a beer is partially determined by what kind of malt is used - pale malt, roasted malt, etc. By varying the heat during the brewing process, the malt can be toasted from light tan to dark brown, resulting in the light golden colour of the popular Birkenhead lagers - Honey Blond Lager and Birkenhead Pride - and the dark colour of the Chocolate Malt Stout. Black Snake is a mixture of beer and brandy sporting a vicious bite similar to that of the real McCoy!
The first vines on the estate were planted in 2003 and in 2007 the first dry white wines in the Walker Bay range saw the light - a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay. In 2008 a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot were added to the collection and dubbed Amesteca - a blend that was rewarded with a 4 ½ star Silver Veritas Award. Today, the Walker Bay wines – Amesteca, Shiraz Rosé 2010, Chardonnay 2010 and Sauvignon Blanc 2010 - have become proud household names in the Overberg and are fast gaining national and international interest. About 21 hectares of the estate are currently under vine and the 2011 Walker Bay range is well under way!
Book now for a veritable taste of true Overberg bliss and bounty served in a beautiful setting.