The Speights Brewery Tour

July 9th, 2010 at 5:27 am by David Farrar

On Wednesday I did a tour of the historic Speights Brewery in Dunedin, as part of the Science Festival.

It takes around 90 minutes, which includes a very pleasant tasting session at the end.

It starts with a good display of Cooperage, which are the barrels that the was storied and transported in up until the 1950s. Except they are casks not all barrels. A barrel is 36 gallons of . You also had firkins (9G), kilderkins (18G), hogsheads (54G) and butts (162G). These terms have been used since 1854.

Saw some ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics warning people of the ill effects of drinking too much alcohol. Yes they even had Law Commissions 3,000 years ago :-)

I learnt where the saying to “scull” your beer comes from – the Vikings who used to literally drink beer from the skulls of their enemies.

The tour is a good mix of the history of beer, the history of Speights and a look at how the beer is brewed today. We got to taste the actual barleys used in making the beer (think burnt toast).

At the end of the tour we tried the six types of beer they had on tap – the Pilsener proving the most popular.

The tour guide was very engaging, and it was interesting to learn about the history of the brewery, the three founders of Speights etc. Highly recommended tour for beer lovers if you are in Dunedin, and a good opportunity to learn a bit about the science of beer making.

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8 Responses to “The Speights Brewery Tour”

  1. alex Masterley (1,502 comments) says:

    The brewery is a great place.
    Outside is a tap which it linked into the spring from which alot of the water used in the brewing process is sourced. when i lived in Dundein there was always some-one filling up a container with water which wes reputed to have medicinal properties!
    One one occasion the Bar staff at the University Union were invited for some reason to do with Orientation week to do a taste test on the first run of canned Speights (about 1983 I think). We spent a very nice evening in the directors bar getting thoroughly shickered.
    The only problem with the cans were that they were not made of aluminium rather they were steel of some sort so didn’t crush to well when you tried to squash them on your forehead. I still have the scar on my temple.

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  2. James Stephenson (2,096 comments) says:

    About that Vikings thing…nice story, but a complete myth.

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  3. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    “…for beer lovers if you are in Dunedin”

    If you’re a beer lover in Dunedin, you’re visiting Emerson’s. And the Viking story is a fairytale.

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  4. s.russell (1,580 comments) says:

    I too have enjoyed the Speight’s Brewery tour. It was very interesting, and better than the Cadbury chocolate factory tour.

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  5. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    The tour………….as part of the science festival, yeaahhhhh riggghhhttt, I guess any excuse will do, lucky bugger.

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  6. fredinthegrass (273 comments) says:

    Email in from brother-in-law yesterday – reckons his tour of the Guinness Brewery in Ireland
    was the best brewery tour he had done.
    Even reckoned he would drink the stuff if he could get here – the real mccoy that is!
    How about taking the parentals to Ireland!!!!

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  7. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    I can’t wait for the Heineken tour in Auckland..

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  8. Clint Heine (1,569 comments) says:

    The Speights factory is alright, if you like mass produced NZ lager. I admit, I was a huge fan of the stuff as a student.

    My greatest beer pilgrimage would be when I went to the town of Plzen, in the Czech Republic – the home of Pilsner beer. That stuff is just brilliant, better than the Staropramen factory in Prague, although they do offer unlimited free beer :)

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