The Castle Brewery

Immediately after the opening of the Woodstock Brewery a ‘critique’ was published in the ‘Licensed Victuallers’ and Sporting Gazette: “I have received some samples,” wrote the editor, “of beer and stout, from the South African Breweries and, although I am not given to gush over any particular class of drink, I cannot refrain from giving a word of praise to these articles, and to the brewer, who is certainly to be congratulated on effecting a great improvement in local manufacture ……… If this marked improvement is maintained, Cape Town beer will earn a high reputation.”


Left: Original letter to Mayor from Mr Orpen – dated 25th November 1902. Click here to download


To introduce the new Castle Beer from Woodstock, Mr Orpen sent free sample cases to the Civil Service Club, the City Club and the German Club.  He received a letter of refusal from the City Club, reading: “It is only suitable for the Coloured staff!” However, the secretary of the German Club replied: “Delighted, drank 25 glasses last night, no ill effects.”  A copy was immediately sent to the City Club, and the original shown to a member, no less a person than Onze Jan, the famous Jan Hendrik Hofmeyer, head of the Afrikaner Bond. Onze Jan took up the cause and ever afterwards made a point, on entering the City Club, of demanded, “beer for the Coloured Staff.”  Big orders for Castle Brewery followed.


However, despite the new brewery, expensive advertising campaigns and every endeavor on the part of teams of capable and experienced salesmen, sales of Castle continued to lag far behind those of Lion.  The atmosphere at the ‘Castle’ Brewery was however a very happy one.


Mr Orpen was delighted to receive an order from the Quarter Master-General for a large supply of beer for the troops, only to discover that the order was so large that no brewery in South Africa could have fulfilled the contract.  A concentrate was imported from Britain and was diluted by the Castle Brewery.  It was this order, which got the brewery in Woodstock on its feet.


The annual capacity was one hundred and twenty five thousand barrels of ale, seventy five thousand barrels of lager beer and twenty five thousand barrels of stout. The building was added to over the years.

Continue to Building the ‘Old Castle Brewery’

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