Sharing The Peapod's Travel Adventures...

Cadbury Chocolate and Speights Gold Medal Ale Factory Tours

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This entry was posted on 1/6/2007 4:08 AM and is filed under New Zealand.

Dunedin Factory Tours

Two factories tours in one town - Peapod heaven!!!

We started with the Cadbury Chocolate Factory.  Because it was New Years, the complete factory was not open to us, but we got a great tour of part of the facility including samples.  This way to the tour please...

How about this mountain of chocolate gold bars?

The two white silos hold "crumb", which consists of milk, sugar and chocolate mixed together - then evaporated  - so that all that is left is a chunk of light colored, hard material that is like a piece of pumice rock.  There's enough crumb in the two silos to let the factory continue to make chocolate for eight weeks in the event of a dry spell, which would affect the milk supply.  All the milk comes from happy New Zealand cows in the area.

The purple silo was transformed into a gigantic chocolate waterfall for our viewing pleasure.  We climbed to the top, being careful not to touch the chocolate-spattered hand rails and side walls.  Once everyone made it to the top, the switch was flipped, and down poured one and a half tons of pure molten milk chocolate.  Then they pump it back up to the top, and it's ready for the next batch of happy tour viewers like us.

For a little bit of the action, check out this movie...

Chocolate at the Cadbury Factory

(We were not permitted to bring our cameras into the factory - too many secrets!  Nor could we wear jewelry, coats, backpacks, cell phones, etc.)  They have another factory in Tasmania, Australia which we hope to visit too.  Some of the people in our group had been to that one too, and said it was even better.  We were among kindred spirits - a unique subculture who loves factory tours.

Factory Tour Number Two...

Speight's slogan... "Good On Ya Mate"!

The main brewery is an old brick building right in the center of town that was built by 3 men who started the company in 1876, one of them named Mr. Speights.  There was a lot of competition in those days, but when their company won the Gold Medal Competition in Australia, their future was secured.

They have a few rooms setup before the factory part begins that show some of the history of beer and the company.  We were particularly interested in the story of the cooperage. 

There were maybe 7 sizes of beautiful wood barrels that that held different quantities of beer.  The smallest was about the size of half a keg and one was given to each of the 30 coopers employed by the company each day as part of their pay.  They went through that entire amount daily - wow!  And later it was found they had even shaved the inside of their kegs thinner so they would hold an extra pint or two.

With the advent of aluminum, the wood barrels became a thing of the past.  But the aluminum was susceptible to exploding, because it was stored under gas pressure then.  It wasn't until modern stainless containers and kegs came into existence (in the 50's?) that a good solution was found.

Speight's is also one of the only beer companies in the world that pioneered and still uses tanker trucks to deliver FRESH beer to its principal ale houses throughout the country.  This beer can be made without any preservatives and is pumped right into the bar's holding tanks to be on tap.  But it has to be an establishment with a lot of customers, because its shelf life is less than two weeks.

The factory is a gravity brewery.  All the raw materials are brought up to the top floor, and drop down to the next lower floor as they are sequentially processed.  Here's how they used to bring up the sugar, with a rope and pulley system, before modern elevators were invented and installed...

We were amazed to hear that this huge and meticulously clean factory runs with only 15 employees.  Now that's efficiency!

You can get a sense of the tour from this movie...

Join in on the tour of the Speights Beer Factory

Beautiful copper and wooden vats used in the fermentation process...

Every detail attended to...

And finally - an hour later - the tasting room...

Our favorite was on the far left and was called Harvest Brew, and really tasted like apricots.  It was a fresh beer only available in ale houses, not canned or bottled.  All their beers are about 4% alcohol.  Their best seller (and they have about 80% of the NZ beer market with this) is the golden ale.  It was also very good - in fact, it turned us into beer drinkers!

Apparently Speights is available in specialty stores around the world too - we'll have to look for the blue and gold can....


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    • 1/15/2007 10:35 AM darcey wrote:
      Catching up on your journey - what fun. the beer tour made me think to let you know that next time in Napa you must go see the cooperage that makes oak barrels! The most interesting factory tour i've ever been on. Thanks again for the blog - lets me feel like a mini vacation!! YAYB - D
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    • 1/20/2007 9:37 PM Nancy wrote:
      Long Live Chocolate!!!
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