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Birkenhead Estate, Stanford

It’s been around for thousands of years; the Sumerians wrote chants and hymns about it, the Mesopotamians had a goddess dedicated to it, and it’s been helping white men dance really badly for ages. It is the third most popular beverage in the world after water and tea, and if it was up to me it would be number one… it is beer, the beautiful bastard that it is.

True K-Tonians and millions of South Africans are all too familiar with this creation; and the biggest brewery in the world is South African after all, SABMiller. Yet, there are many other micro-breweries dotted around the country supplying locally brewed beverages to a variety of pubs; Mitchells and Boston in the city, and for those who know the south Cape, Birkenhead.

Birkenhead Estate is situated about 12 meters out of Stanford, a town small enough to be missed if you blink, en route to Gansbaai from Hermanus, and was named after the HMS Birkenhead which sank off the coast in the 1800’s (this was also the wreck that gave us the term “women and children first”). They boast a pub, restaurant, picnic area, estate homes and their super-kief brewery, all in the shadow of the Klein Rivier mountains.

Personally, I didn’t care much for the food. Their menu is as disappointingly uninteresting as watching paint dry or a speech by the Speaker of Parliament so I’d advise packing a picnic or some snacks. The main attraction, however, is definitely something to enjoy; the variety of beers brewed in-house will offer something for every beer lover. Currently there are seven alcoholic beverages crafted on-site, and for just 30 bucks you can have a tasting-plate served with all seven… in small glasses… but not too small fortunately.

The range includes the following: Honey Blond, a sweet, strong beer akin to European green-bottles, Birkenhead Lager and Birkenhead Premium, both of which are pretty run-of-the-mill lagers, Old English Ale, which is a dark, full-bodied ale with a hint of old-age and dust, Chocolate Milk Stout, yes, chocolate milk stout, Birkenhead Venom, a stout/lager/brandy mixture that’ll kick you into next Sunday, and Strongboat Cider, a grap-sappie resembling Appletizer.

I preferred the Honey Blond, as it was firstly a stronger beer weighing in at 6%, but also because it most resembled my favourite European beers (but don’t think it tastes like Amstel or Heineken). The Venom was actually quite horrible, being flat from the stout and harsh from the brandy with a hint of cough medicine, yet it’ll make an awesome chaser for Jagermeister shots, and it’ll make you surprisingly fucked-up with a 10% volume.

All-in-all the Birkenhead Estate outing is something I’d advise if you were heading somewhere via Stanford and needed a place to park off for an hour or two while you combat sobriety on a beautiful lawn overlooking the mountains. The beers are pretty cool, none of which I’d give a golden medal to, but definitely a good alternative to other locally brewed beers, and the atmosphere is quiet and serene.

You can get Birkenhead beers at a variety of pubs, restaurants and off-sales throughout K-Town. Check the list here
Visit the Birkenhead website

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