The little town in the heart of the West-Coast, charmingly named Darling, is home to Africa’s first carbon-neutral brewery, Darling Brew. Established in 2010, it became one of South Africa’s first well-established and award-winning craft beer breweries. With over 20 Craft Beer awards, dedication to sustainability and conservation, and, an impressively varied range of premium beers sold nationwide; Darling Brew has rapidly grown into a leader in the South African beer industry.
“All of our beer is brewed in Africa, and conservation and environmentally-friendly lifestyle surrounds it,” Darling Brew founder, Kevin Wood explains. “More people are environmentally conscious and looking after their personal health – they want beer that can match that. We didn’t get into the business to take on large scale companies – we got in it to brew great quality beer using great ingredients and not cut corners on quality, and I think that distinguishes Darling Brew in a big way.”
This environmentally mindful business is no better exemplified than the company’s carbon neutral brewery and 4-greenstar rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa. Claiming the innovative and forward-thinking title of being the first brewery of its kind on the continent, Darling Brew’s brewery is set to offset a total of 687.96 tonnes of CO2 over the next year. For comparison, this is similar to having eliminated the same amount of carbon from the environment as 17,829 trees would over 10 years. Darling Brew proudly presents their sustainability goals and history in their Tasteroom restaurant which overlooks the brewery. Statistics on their water and energy consumption are displayed on the walls in well-designed infographics; as well as, their carbon and waste outputs. This transparency shows and upholds their commitment to responsible brewing and production.
“It’s not about doing what we would like with our regards to our operations and just offsetting our impact,” says Kevin. “It’s about our commitment to continuously reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible whilst using the offsetting process as a way of further redressing our impact,” he says. One such example is Darling Brew’s Beer Crisps which are made with 40% spent grain; a by-product of the brewing operation. This grain – which is high in minerals, proteins and dietary fibre – is usually discarded; but by allowing one harvest to yield two returns, the brewery is able to further decrease their carbon footprint allowing for better utilisation of farming land, and avoiding unnecessary transport and energy usage.
Darling Brew’s dedication to sustainability also extends to conservation awareness. Each beer is creatively designed and inspired by an endangered animal in a bid to highlight the need for conservation in Africa. This is especially true for their numerous sell-out seasonal beers that are as rare and limited as the animals that inspire them.
Although their commitment to sustainable brewing is commendable, Darling Brew has also been innovating for the future in other ways. In early 2020, due to the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent alcohol ban the team focused their energy into expanding their range of zero-alcohol beverages and developing an online e-commerce platform allowing customers nationwide to order from home.
That is not the only way the team at Darling Brew are extending the Darling Brew experience. The Tasteroom at Darling Brew is specifically designed to provide one of the best craft beer tasting experiences. Aiming to create a brand that is both cool and stylish, the Tasteroom overlooks the working brewery so while enjoying a phenomenal beer tasting experience, visitors will get a bird’s eye view of the brewing process seen below.
All furniture is locally produced and hand crafted from reclaimed wood. All beers are available on tap and can be enjoyed with a delicious selection of locally sourced hot and cold meals, the hot menu is authentically South African, specialising in braai platters and succulent beef burgers on fresh, homemade brioche buns. The cold menu features local cheeses, pickles and freshly baked breads. Regular events such as food and beer pairing nights, live music and other not-to-be-missed events help solidify the Tasteroom as an engaging and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Extending the Darling Brew experience, specifically from the West Coast to Woodstock was an idea brewed between Darling Brew co-founders Kevin and Philippa Wood, and Verde Hotels’ owners Mario and Annemarie Delicio, with their shared values of environmental responsibility, sustainability and zero waste proving to be fertile ground. In 2019, Darling Brew’s second Tasteroom opened its doors from its new home in Woodstock.
“With our sustainability journey over the next 3 years, we’ve planned several exciting new developments for Darling Brew. This includes an events arena to house our many successful events such as the Darling Brew Extreme and Winterbeerfest; as well as; the opening of several restaurants across the country. We hope to attract various new members to our Darling Brew family with these investments,” tells Tewie Roos, managing director of Darling Brew.
Darling Brew Tasteroom & Brewery
Address: 48 Caledon Street, Darling, South Africa
Phone: 079 092 8313
Darling Brew Woodstock
Address: 85 Albert Road, Woodstock, 7925
Phone: 076 753 8002