“ Contact: The Brewery, Blandford St. Mary, Dorset, DT11 9LS / Tel: 01258 452141 „
Over the last year or so I have made a number of unsuccessful trips to a couple of different breweries with the view to undertaking a brewery tour. I'd had aborted attempts at Jennings, Wychwood and a previous attempt at Badger but as it was my birthday during our week in Dorset we pre booked the trip to ensure that we were on the tour.
The Badger brewery is located in Blandford St Mary in Dorset. It is well sign posted from the ring road around Blandford and is very easy to find. Even though the brewery itself is only signposted once you reach Blandford it is easy enough to follow signs for Blandford from the rest of Dorset.
Once you arrive at the Brewery the visitors centre and shop are located at the front of the Brewery with a decent sized car park, which has never been even close to full on either of my previous visits.
When we were looking into booking the tour it was incredibly hard to find out how much it would cost. Rather than simply listing the cost on the website you have to either e-mail or phone the brewery to find out the price. I'm not sure if this is because it changes on a regular basis or of there is another reason for this but it wasn't until we got our e-mail back that we found out the price was actually £6 each, which really didn't seem that bad.
The tour itself takes 2 hours and at £6 for a guided tour of the facilities this sounded quite reasonable. We were of course in for a bigger surprise once we paid as it turned out the entry fee also included a free drink that could either be enjoyed in the bar or taken home to be enjoyed later. All in all the cost was very reasonable and actually slightly less than we had expected.
The brewery tours are advertised as being available all year round at 11 am Monday to Saturday. I would advise that you check this out before going out of your way to visit the brewery as our first attempt to take the tour had resulted in a wasted trip as it wasn't running and we hadn't booked in advance. The visitor's centre and shop are also open everyday from 9 am - 6pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30am to 2pm on a Sunday.
Once we had bought our tickets we were guided into the Visitor's centre bar where the tour commences with a history of the brewery and the families behind it. The first section of the tour provides a very detailed history of how the Badger brewery came about and the role the Hall and Woodhouse families still play in the running of the company. This section was very interesting and covered the basics of how brewing of ales and bitters came about and why this particular brand has succeeded.
From there the tour then progresses into the larger building behind and takes you on a step by step route through the entire brewing process from the measuring of ingredients and choosing a recipe to the fermentation process and finally into the onsite bottling plant.
The whole tour took just over the 2 hour mark we had been told at the start and given the amount of detail and elements of the brewing process it covered, it didn't feel overly long. The guide kept the tour interesting and managed to fit a lot of detail into each of his explanations. The pace of the tour worked rather well and made sure that should anyone have a question or query about any element that it was answered before we moved on.
I think it would be fair to say that given the amount of knowledge regarding the brand and the brewery the guide had, it was an excellent tour and very much worth the money. It was interesting to see the process from start to finish and to learn the expertise behind the whole process of bring beers that I and countless others enjoy to the shelves and bars around the country.
Bar & Shop
At the end of the tour you return to the bar area where the tour commenced for your free drink. The bar served a number of different meals including sandwiches, baked potatoes and salads all of which looked very reasonably priced. We were on our way to Weymouth after the tour and so didn't have lunch but the bar was quite busy and the food looked very nice.
The shop is also very reasonably pieced and as you might expect mainly sold the beers brewed on the premises. They also have a good selection of wine to accompany their own products. I bought myself 8 bottles of Firsty Ferret for £7.99 and have to admit that the prices in general were a lot better than they are in my local Tesco.
As I've struggled to do a brewery tour a couple of times this year I was pleased that we managed to get on the Badger tour on this occasion. The tour is very interesting and even Jen found it to be of interest, which considering she wasn't really looking forward to it was quite a surprise. The tour is filled with interesting facts and stories that were both surprising and interesting. The only downside would be that it isn't really an attraction for Kids as they would get easily bored, especially since they aren't able to enjoy the drink at the end.
If you have any interest in ale or bitter then I think that the Badger Brewery Tour is well worth a visit. The guide kept the tour both interesting and informative and held our interest throughout. The price is very reasonable and if there was perhaps one slight complaint it would be just how difficult it is to find out how much the tour actually cost in the first place. An interesting way to spend 2 hours on what turned out to be a rainy day and another excellent attraction in Dorset.