There is an ongoing debate as to whether kids and breweries can mix. Well in my life they can. They do. They must. And an increasing number of brewery owners seem to understand that having a safe place for kids to play is good for business. Here are some of my favourite family-friendly breweries around South Africa.
Franschhoek Beer Company, Franschhoek
The perfect package is a rare thing, but I think Franschhoek Beer Co. has nailed it. The beers are excellent, particularly the saison – for me the best example in the country (side note: at 8.4% ABV, you will need a designated driver). The food, overseen by Reuben Riffel, is superb and carefully thought out. And the kid’s play area ticks two boxes that so many don’t – it is shaded and it is right next to the restaurant/tasting area, so you don’t have to keep getting up to see what your little ones are up to. Imagine that – a relaxing lunch with great beers that pair well with the food. #winning.
Stellenbosch Brewing Company, Stellenbosch
Based at Joostenberg estate, Stellies is family-run and it shows, offering a perfect family day out – massive lawns, jungle gym, snack platter and picnics, ducks waddling around, plus horse and carriage rides through the grounds. The tap room is perfectly located for parents to sit and sip a taster tray while the kids run around on the grass. Oh, and the beers have won loads of awards.
Wild Clover, Stellenbosch
Kids’ facilities at Wild Clover go way beyond a jungle gym – there are sandpits and slides, mini bikes and pony rides, farm animals to coo over, bike tracks around the farm (which adjoins a game camp home to zebra and giraffe among other things) and yes, there’s also an impressive jungle gym. There are baby changing stations and high chairs, there’s pizza on the menu, coffee roasted on site for the designated driver and of course, beer. The only downsiide is that much of the kids’ stuff is located at the restaurant and not next to the brewery. If you want to make a weekend of it, there’s also lovely self-catering accommodation with wonderful views.
Honingklip, Bot River
Also in the Western Cape, Honingklip has a marvellous patch of grass for kids to run around on and a jungle gym with fabulous Overberg views (not that kids are particularly interested in vistas, but mum and dad will enjoy the surrounds with a glass of Mark and Analize’s Belgian beer). For bigger kids there are 4×4 routes and mountain bike trails. The restaurant serves a range of dishes including cheeseboards, handmade sausages and their excellent mussels. There are kids’ dishes on offer plus a spent grain and hops chocolate brownie…Dogs are also welcome on the grounds.
Aegir Project, Noordhoek
Sharing a kids’ play area with the Red Herring, Aegir Project welcomes kids to climb trees, paddle in ponds or sit inside and challenge one of the locals to a game of chess or draughts. On the food menu there are gourmet hotdogs, with a simpler version for kids. For grown-ups, the beers are excellent and usually feature a limited edition brew. It’s also dog-friendly, as long as your pooch plays nice with others (notably the brewery dog, a ridgeback named Aegir).
Saggy Stone, Robertson
There tend to be as many kids as adults hanging out at Saggy Stone, though obviously for different reasons. Grown-ups can grab a beer and order pizza from the outdoor kitchen, while kids clamber over the climbing frame or run around the pond. If you want a quieter gathering, grab a picnic or braai pack and head into the peach orchard. Wherever you are, the view are fabulous and the kids are happy.
Cape Brewing Company, Paarl
Chocolate tasting? Check. Giant chess set? Check. Jungle gym? Check. Ice cream? Check. Coffee, wine, charcuterie, pizza, lavish lunches, biltong? Check. Magnificent views? Check. Awesome craft beer to taste and take home? Check. Seriously – if you and the family can’t find something to do at CBC/Spice Route, I just don’t know how to help you.
Nieuw Brew, Cedeberg
Back in the Western Cape, Nieu Brew is a great place not so much for a family day out (it’s a hell of a drive for an afternoon) but for a family weekend away. The brewery produces a lager, blonde ale, weiss, English pale ale and a stout as well as speciality beers including a pumpkin ale and a cherry blonde. Enjoy a tasting with a light lunch and a spectacular view of the Cederberg. Campsites are available or there are simple chalets dotted about the farm. When it comes to keeping kids busy, there’s horse-riding and hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing, farmyard animals to feed and rivers to paddle in. It’s a little piece of beer lover’s heaven.
Darling Brew, Darling
There’s a spectacular jungle gym on the lawns at Darling’s marvellous brewery just outside the town of the same name. Kids can munch on spent grain crisps and crawl through hanging tunnels while parents sip a few tasters from Darling’s expansive range.
While Steve Gilroy’s ‘up yours’ speeches and the accompanying loud music on weekends perhaps aren’t ideal for younger audiences, the complex where the bearded one’s brewery is location has plenty for families to do. The shops in this mini craft village share some shady grass and there’s a playground for little kids. Nearby, older ones can drive around a go-kart track. And the biggest kids of all can join the inimitable Steve for a tour and tasting, or just sit down for a pub lunch and one of his famous political poems.
Emerald Vale, Cintsa
With brewery tours and light lunches, farm animals to spot and lawns to run around on, Emerald Vale is a deservedly popular Eastern Cape family hang-out. There are shaded picnic tables dotted around and to make a real day of it, you can even braai your own lunch on the premises. For those who want to know more about beer, brewer Chris runs regular tours of the brewery, which include a tasting of his range of ales.
Also check out: BrewHaHa in Jeffreys Bay – I haven’t had chance to visit yet, but spotted pics of their epic kids’ room on Facebook.
Dog and Fig
The impressive building on the outskirts of Parys houses the popular Dog and Fig Brewery, well known for its stout. There’s a great kids’ area with a sand pit, plenty of toys, dressing-up costumes and an old bus for the kids to hang out in while you fill up on eisbein or settle down with one of the beer pairing platters. There’s also a kids’ menu offering the usual fish/burger/chicken nuggets and chips.
L’Abri Fountain, Bela Bela
Way up there in Limpopo, between Bela-Bela and Thabazimbi, L’Abri Fountain is South Africa’s bush brewery. Tucked away amid gravel roads, the rural brewpub with its nanobrewery is just perfect for a family fun day. Buck and warthog roam nearby or there are farm animals for kiddies who want to get up close to some furry friends. There’s a shop selling local crafts and freshly baked cake, a pizza oven churning out the perfect accompaniment to Andries’ excellent ales, accommodation on site and a host of activities like fishing, hiking, mountain biking, paintball, star-gazing, canoeing, horse-riding and half-day wagon rides.
What did I miss? Which are your favourite breweries to take the family to?