International Beer Day: Local craft beers every beer lover should drink
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There are some things in life you have to experience first hand.
We are in the golden age of beer. Popping up in every city are attractive breweries, each specialising in its own craft beer selection. From mainstream lagers and ales to IPA’s and innovative craft stouts – everyone is brewing and selecting the most unique tastes to innovate their tap.
With today being International Beer Day, we look at some of the local craft beers every beer lover should try. If you’re a beer drinker, there are certain beers you have to try. At least once. We’ve come up with a list of five quintessential beers that define the South African craft beer scene. Some of these would be considered the best beers in the country. Others can hold their own, but earned a spot on this list because of the role they played in the craft beer movement.
Zulu Blonde has been the flagship beer of The Zululand Brewing Company for almost two decades and is only available at selected outlets in South Africa including Quay 4 at the V&A Waterfront, Alba Easy Lounge at the Cape Town and King Shaka International airports, and The George Hotel in Eshowe. It is an easy-drinking session beer. Amber in colour, a crisp, somewhat malty blonde ale, it is marginally fruity in flavour with notes of citrus, with a slight bitter aftertaste.
Owned by the first black woman in South Africa to found a microbrewery, Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, this craft beer pays homage to the female brewers of the African soil, inspired by the Tolo clan’s rich history of brewing. Tolokazi is not a new brand, but a revamp of the Brewsters Craft range. And just as the name suggests (brewster is the name for a female brewer), the company is made up almost entirely of women. It uses indigenous African ingredients including sorghum, African Queen and Simcoe hops, rooibos and hibiscus.
Robson’s is one of South Africa’s oldest craft beers. Owned by the Stewart family, they were motivated by the variety of craft beers produced around the world and set out to create their own handcrafted beer, using only the finest ingredients in natural processes with no artificial additives. Recently, they opted for canned beer. Robsons is following the trend in the craft beer sector to increase its footprint nationally with 340ml and 440ml cans of its popular variants. They have launched an online ordering facility and their canned beers will be available nationally and across the country’s borders. Production is still limited to only three variants, namely its biggest seller Hammer of Thor, Durban Pale Ale, and the ever-popular East Coast Ale. They do however plan to can their Cherry Beer soon as well.
1000 Hills Brewery offers five beers: the cheerleader, a deep coppery-coloured beer that will have you doing somersaults all night long; the graduate, a rich India pale ale with hints of passion fruit and litchi; the dean; the Foreign Exchange Student (FES), a Belgian ale that will have hops running through your veins from the very first swig; and the quarterback.
In true craft tradition, the brewery prefers not to follow a particular style too closely but rather experiment with their own styles. Most of their beers follow a pale ale style. This particular style covers a range of flavours and appearances and suits how they brew their beers.