Welcome to Unit 3 of Beer Hawk University. It's time to see things from grain to glass! This unit will focus on the brewing process, ingredients, homebrewing and breweries. Before we get stuck in, let's take a look around at some of our favourite breweries we've toured.

The brewery tour: the thing we all seem to tell ourselves we like to go on. But when it gets down to it, you're really just walking around looking at big shiny tanks in an old warehouse and they all kind of look the same. Some might enjoy staring up at the top of a fermenter, wondering what it might feel like to swan dive into their favourite beer; each to their own. Yet, here are our favourite brewery tours for those who want something more to look at:

The Black Sheep Brewery

We love this brewery tour for a number of reasons. Climbing up and down and around the creaky floorboards of the old part of the brewery is fascinating and really give a sense of Yorkshire brewing culture. We also like the massive open fermenters where we can almost watch our favourite bitter transform before our very eyes. But the best part of the tour happens before we even get there: the drive up and around Masham is gorgeous and is Yorkshire defined. 

Brasserie Cantillon

Tucked away in an "up-and-coming" neighbourhood in Brussels, Cantillon is one of the world's greatest breweries to visit. It's at once a family-operated brewery and museum of Belgian brewing tradition. You step through multiple storeys of wooden stairs and past antiquated machinery (which is partially still in use) to reach, essentially, the rafters and where the magic of spontaneous fermentation takes place. Gaze in wonder at the rows of bottles marked by whichever lambic or gueuze is conditioning inside while you enjoy a taste of your favourites.


We like this one because it's big! Yes, many other breweries have state-of-the-art canning lines, forklifts buzzing about and a fantastic taproom but Founders is impressive thanks to its sheer magnitude. It's been a 20-year project in the making but when you stand in the shadow of stack of beer where a petrol station once stood or crane your neck to see the top of a fermenter from what was once a car park you can't help but be wowed. And then go get a pulled-pork sandwich.

Mittenwalder Privatbrauerei

Located beneath the imposing shadows of the Karwendel Mountains, the Mittenwald brewery is gorgeous inside and out. While the modern brewery--which is currently the only bit in operation--is mostly off limits to tours, the historic sections still remain and make for a much more interesting visit. Still owned by the same family since the early 1800's, it's a good thing that the founding fathers were somewhat pack-rat in nature. The original equipment and machinery is on display as well as much of the branding materials as they changed through the decades. Have a beer on the terrace before leaving and you've had the true Mittenwalder experience.


We sure like ourselves a visit to the Jopen brewery in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Much of the tour takes place from the vantage point of a catwalk hovering around the tops of the tanks. This really gives a different perspective to the size of the operation. Enjoy a fresh pint from the taproom overlooking the brewery or head over to the Jopenkerk--an old, former church in the centre of Haarlem where a second, smaller brewing operation and the Grand Café is located.

All this wandering around among the tanks has us working up a thirst! Let's go grab a beer, shall we? And we'll see you next week as we really get into BHU Unit Three when we'll talk about the different types of breweries. Until then--cheers!