The Rawdons Craft Gin and Beer Experience – join us as we explore a best-kept secret of the Midlands through the eyes of a local, but don’t say anything.
We all know how famous the Nottingham Road Brewery is. If you don’t, be sure to taste the most outstanding, smooth, and well-rounded Craft Beers made from the finest quality hops and malted barley, drawing the best water from an artisan well on the grounds. You will find this gem in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on the beautifully manicured grounds of the Rawdons hotel. It is the oldest, independently owned Craft Brewery in South Africa.
After heaps of research, using the purest water and, I would imagine, loads of beer tasting, Peter Dean and his team built a small pilot system in the hotel cellar. He started a micro fun-filled batch, brewing beer batch after beer batch. Within about a year of perfecting the recipes and sourcing the best of the best ingredients, they got rewarded with their very own micro-manufacturing license in 1996.
The doors have opened to welcome beer lovers from all over since then. Peter wanted to take the brewery to the next level about five years ago and introduced an award-winning Craft Gin Distillery. He strategically placed Nick Cahill, the charismatic ex-Michaelhouse Biology Teacher and Tatham House Master, at the helm of this bold move. This very interesting, informative, and super intelligent retired teacher will keep you entertained while on your Craft Beer and Gin Tour.
Together with the brewery manager Jason Black, Nick and Peter decided to offer bespoke Craft Gin making workshops. So, upon arrival, you don’t just go straight to the Gin Distillery room. No, they take you on a full Craft Beer brewery tour first.
The Craft Gin and Beer Experience is possibly the best-kept secret of the Midlands. This bespoke experience with tasters only costs R500 and takes about 4 ½ hours for a full brewery tour, distillery tour, Craft Gin making, plus a gorgeous bottle of 500ml Gin you have made and can name yourself to take home.
It’s not too serious, not too scientific, fabulously entertaining, and best of all, you get to taste beer and/or gin whilst you’re on the tour. Nick Cahill takes you through the Craft Beer making process, shows you the Hops and Barley, and walks you through the bottling process.
Sipping away, you enter the Craft Gin Distillery, and here is where you can decide how your take-home Craft Gin will be flavoured. The way the flavour explodes in the alcohol and how it needs to heat up to a very specific temperature, and voila – there you have it – your very own Craft Gin.
Sounds easy, does it, and yes, it is, only because they are equipped with the state-of-the-art distillery and temperature gauges, ingredients, and then, of course, the best water on the planet. Mix that with Nick’s knowledge, and you have a fantastic bespoke experience you will never forget.
This experience is good for many golfers, the golfers’ wives, or the book club ladies that never read! It’s even for those who love fun with a tipple or for the corporates who need to soften the blow before delivering the next sales target to the team. Just come and unwind, recharge yourself with creative classes, and get hands-on guidance from the experts.
Words by: Ester Dobbin