When I walked into the Sedgefield Craft Brewery at Sedgefield's Scarab Village, I noticed that Tony Hunter (its popular local brew master) was pouring over a book entitled 'Brewing Engineering: Great Beer Through Applied Science.'
Beer making is certainly something of a science. That said, each brewer ends up mastering the alchemy of ingredients to suit his own tastes and that of his particular beer loving audience. So while craft breweries around the country are coming up with all sorts of weird and wacky beer flavours, Tony is admittedly old school, and he likes to keep things pure and simple. It is very clear that he must be doing something right if the long queues and buzzing beer garden during the Saturday Market are a benchmark for success.
Tony started hand-crafting beer as a hobby in the 80's. He was in fact an IT specialist by profession. He jokingly told me that, “the first batches my friends and I made were really awful but we all convinced ourselves otherwise and drank it anyway. The quality of available ingredients was extremely poor, too, so it was no easy feat back in those days to make a good brew”.
Today things are very different. He has such a great variety of sophisticated ingredients from which to choose and in the process he has since fined tuned his brewing skills over the course of many years. The business has grown so much since opening its doors that they have now extended the space and have also created a rustic outdoor beer garden called the Hop Garden.
They brew a range of custom ales, ranging from a simple refreshing summer-style blonde to a deep copper well-hopped complex IPA. They also make an Irish Red Ale, an American Pale Ale and just recently they have added a Weiss beer to their offerings, which has been a huge hit.
On Saturdays the Hop Garden is buzzing with both locals and visitors enjoying a couple of cold ones. There are also really delicious platters for sale in the Hop Garden, all of which perfectly complement the beer that is served. There are Ploughman's Platters, German Wurst Platters, Pulled Pork on a crispy bun and home-made German Pretzels.
So all you hop heads out there - head down the Sedgefield Craft Brewery and enjoy our lekker local brew. (Beer tasting is free of charge)