It was during a long drive to the Midlands Meander in KwaZulu-Natal last month, that my bru-in-law suggested a pit stop at what happened to be a brewery not yet on my radar.
Previously the Crossways Country Pub, it’s now The Old Main Brewery and brews Foxx Lager, Honey Badger Imperial Stout and 1806 Real Ale.
We were offered a free taster board, showcasing samples of each of the beers, before settling on a pint of our favourite. I asked to see the brewery and Wendy, the friendly waitress, happily showed me through.
The large veranda fronts a reception area with a traditional-looking English pub as you enter on the right, connected with a hallway to the back of the building, where the brewery is located. 8 copper-clad, steel fermenters occupy the one end of the brewery room, with the mash tun, boiler and liquor tanks on the other.
Hunched over the mash tun is where I found brewer Paul Simms and brewing assistant Shedrick Madondo in the midst of a mash.
Old Main Brewery, said Paul who is a veteran brewer, is 2 years old, but the very handsome brewing equipment was bought from a brewery he previously brewed at in Zambia. Paul now lives in Durban, driving up to Hilton, just outside of Pietermaritzburg, once a week to put the 1,000 litre capacity brewery through its paces to produce Old Main Brewery’s 3 craft beers.
When asked about the availability of Old Main Brewery beers he said that between their own pub and the establishments they currently supply in Hilton, Pietermaritzburg and Durban, they can’t keep up with demand.
They’re also working towards upping the amount of beer that they keg as opposed to bottling. Old Main Brewery uses 500ml PET bottles for their bottled beers.
To accompany the beer, Old Main Brewery’s food menu offers a varied selection of dishes from meats to seafood and curries to burgers making it a worthwhile stop if you’re in or heading through Pietermartizburg.