South African Beer

South African Beer

Since your's truly has spent 5 months in South Africa there hasn't been any updates for over half a year. The beers here are the ones that has been rated during this time, and in the first rating after I returned to Sweden.

South African beers: The beer market in South Africa is completely dominated by South African Breweries. The vast majority of their products are poor industrial lagers of the same type that is brewed all over the world. But they have a few highlights: The Fransen Street beers which comes as a tart and refreshing wheat beer of Bavarian type. They also make a reasonably hoppy IPA. Another product is the moderateky interesting sweetish Castle Milk Stout. Their main opposition comes from Namibia, where the beers are brewed according to the German purity laws, but that doeasn't help much though. Tafel Lager might be nice to quench your thirst with in the Namib desert, but maybe it should stay there.

Another brewery that still survives is Bavaria. Their Edel Lager reminds me of a lighter versio of a German Helles, and it is marginally better than the standard beers on the market. In the cape there are a few small breweries producing fairly nice beers. The best example is Mitchell's a brewpub working in both touristic Knysna and beautiful cape Town. Their beers include raven Stout, a fullbodied stout, Bosun's Best Bitter, a refreshing and fairly hoppy English style bitter and an unpasteurized complex lager called Forester's Draught. Missing in our listings are my favourite of the lot: the Scottish style 80 Shilling Old Ale. We also tried teh lively unpasteurized lager Birkenhead Premium Lager from Birkenhead in Hermanus, and Tollie's Lager brewed in picturesque Stellenbosch.

We tried three beers from tiny Swaziland, which is a ridiculously calm and peaceful but enjoyable and scenic little kingdom. All three were brewed by the national brewer Swaziland Breweries. None of them were poorly made industrial lagers with some obvious off flavours. I especially disliked Halala 30 lager brewed to commemorate the 30th birthday of his highness King Mswati III. Maybe the brewers shows their dislike with the king's ruling in this way?

We also received a few Caribbean beers as gifts. The best of them being the sweet and strong Royal Extra Lion Stout from Trinidad & Tobago. Barbados became our 75th country when we rated the less outstanding lager Banks.

Swedish beers... A few new good beers has arrived this winter. The most prominent of them are the two new ales from Tärnö, Nils Oscar NO:6 Ale, a light, well balanced and elegant english style ale, and Nils Oscar N0:5 Julöl, the first commercial barley wine in the country, sold as a x-mas seasonal. It is very hoppy and malty, byt maybe it needs to be aged a year or two to balance out the sweetness. Another intersting beer is the bold and malty Postiljon ESB from Jämtlands bryggeri.

Another welcome addition to the alcohol monolply's stock is the arrival of a few new US microbrews. Most prominent are two wonderful ales from Goose Island, the hop monster IPA and the more balanced and toffeeish Honker's Ale.

We have also tried a load of beers from Italy. With one exception, the creamy they were all sub standard lagers. Sub standard is a suitable word to describe most of King and Barnes new ales. Like the terrible strong corn ale Cornucopia which tasted like vodka with corn flakes. All the fiv eor six ales we had from K & B were more or less bold and one-dimensional. Fargo from Charles Wells OTOH is a lovely fresh and hoppy ale.

That the Czech's brew great pilseners are widely known. To pronounciate or even remember their names is sometimes hard though if you're not familiar with Slavic languages. Maybe thats the reason that Litovel markets a nice hoppy pils under the name Tjeckiskt Öl, meaning "czechish beer" in Swedish.

When I was away I missed out on a few Polish and Belgian beers, most notably GB Amber Special that tops this listing. Another beer I missed was the reportedly absolutely horrible Polish cherry beer Piwo Wisniowe.

Finally... We have rated our most special beer ever, a South African sorghum beer called Joburg Beer. Sorghum beer is an indigenous beer style to Southern Africa and is consumed mainly by the black population. You can buy it in sleazy looking cardboard boxes. Sorghum ferments on the box, so it leaks slightly from the top, creating a brownish blob and a sour smell. It comes out lightly pink, thick like drinking youghurt and completely uncarbonated. It smells sourish like yoghurt, and give as floury mouthfeel when you drink it. The first sips are absolutely revolting, but if you get through that first stage, it is not that bad. Just very different.

Beers rated January - May '99
49GB Special AmberBelgium4.085   5 3443435.0%Ale, Belgian style
116Nils Oscar NO:6 AleSweden3.89445444  43 24.2%Ale, British style
178FargoEngland3.745  44   4251 Ale, British style
269Litovel Tjeckiskt ÖlCzech Rep.3.614  43   44425.0%Lager, Light
271Fransen Street Wheat BeerSouth Africa3.6134 444  44 14.8%Wheat beer
310Goose Island Honker's AleUSA3.534 34 42     4.9%Ale, British style
414Fransen Street IPASouth Africa3.3744 442  44 05.8%Ale, British style
415Schumacher AltGermany3.373   4 2443434.6%Ale, German style
416Faygate DragonEngland3.374  33   34434.7%Ale, British style
417Lech PilsPoland3.3744  23 4 3  5.3%Lager, Light
444Saranac Pale AleUSA3.343  4 3      5.8%Ale, British style
460Nils Oscar NO:5 JulölSweden3.3232 443 4 3  8.7%Ale, British style
461Brewer's Cave Black Barley AleUSA3.324  3 3       Ale, British style
474Sea Dog Brown AleUSA3.303  3 4      4.4%Ale, British style
561Piwo Jasne WarzoviePoland3.2143  33  43 25.8%Lager, Light
572Piwo Spejal MocnePoland3.1934  33 3 3  7.0%Lager, Bock
623Mitchell's Raven StoutSouth Africa3.144  44   3123 Porter/Stout
655Castle Milk StoutSouth Africa3.1044 341  24 36.0%Porter/Stout
670King's CrystalEngland3.093  23   44434.3%Ale, British style
685Elbrewery Piwo SpecjalPoland3.0743  33 2 3  6.2%Lager, Bock
687Amber PilsPoland3.0733  34 3 2  5.5%Lager, Light
710JahkiSweden3.054 33 32      Lager, Dark
720Carls JulDenmark3.044   2 3433325.6%Lager, Dark
748Bolten AltGermany3.022  34   42434.7%Ale, German style
753Goose Island IPAUSA3.014 25 21     6.3%Ale, British style
755Strong WarkaPoland3.0134  14 3 3  7.8%Lager, Bock
842Wieselburger BierAustria2.9614  43 3 3  5.4%Lager, Light
860Puckie MocnePoland2.9424  32 4 3  7.0%Lager, Bock
869Postiljon ESBSweden2.944 24 22     5.8%Ale, British style
881BohemiaMexico2.933  33   24334.8%Lager, Light
896Single Hop AleEngland2.903  32   44324.7%Ale, British style
908Three Hearts Påskebrygd Extra StrongSweden2.8832  43  23 37.5%Lager, Bock
945Birkenhead Premium LagerSouth Africa2.833  33   43224.4%Lager, Light
959Tyskie GroniePoland2.8223  24 3 3  5.7%Lager, Light
962Munkbo Ljus ExportSweden2.822 24  3     5.2%Lager, Light
1004Järnkaminernas GuldSweden2.7624  32  33 35.3%Lager, Light
1034Saranac Adirondack AmberUSA2.72   34   32225.5%Lager, Dark
1065CornucopiaEngland2.683  14   24336.5%Ale, British style
1077Mitchell's Bosun's Best BitterSouth Africa2.673 23 32     3.5%Ale, British style
1089Forst Kronen SpezialItaly2.652  3 3      5.2%Lager, Light
1139VulkanölSweden2.623 13  3     5.1%Lager, Light
1140Starobrno Premium ExklusiveCzech Rep.2.6242  32  23 25.0%Lager, Light
1173Hallsta Påsköl, klass IISweden2.592 32  4     3.5%Lager, Dark
1203Pite PilsSweden2.553 14 22      Lager, Light
1215Mitchell's Forester's DraughtSouth Africa2.533  32   3241 Lager, Light
1225Zeunerts Pils 3,5%Sweden2.51   23   23423.5%Lager, Light
1243Sans SouciItaly2.49   33   22325.0%Lager, Light
1249MUFC Premium LagerEngland2.4823  23 3 2  5.0%Lager, Light
1257Maribo MunkeölDenmark2.483   2 3332224.7%Lager, Light
1263Cuvée de L'ErmitageBelgium2.473332423 13 18.5%Ale, Belgian style
1300Royal Extra Lion StoutTrinidad & Tobago2.412  32   23246.6%Porter/Stout
1305Gamla Stans Julfärsköl, klass IISweden2.403 22  4322133.5%Lager, Dark
1327Odense PilsnerDenmark2.373 22 23     4.0%Lager, Light
1368ScaldisBelgium2.3232  41  14 112.0%Ale, Belgian style
1374Tollie's LagerSouth Africa2.312 223 3      Lager, Light
1375Åhus Jubileums StarkSweden2.313  22   23325.0%Lager, Light
1386Piwo Jasne Pete 10.5Poland2.3032  23  22 25.3%Lager, Light
1394Hansa PilsenerSouth Africa2.2923 322  23 24.5%Lager, Light
1407EB PilsPoland2.2723  32  23 15.5%Lager, Light
1413BanksBarbados2.272  23   23234.7%Lager, Light
1417Pripps BayerbräuSweden2.263 31 23     5.0%Lager, Dark
1431Castle LagerSouth Africa2.2523 223  22 35.0%Lager, Light
1434Lutèce Bière du ParisBelgium2.24   23   23226.4%Ale, Belgian style
1460Maribo Gold ExportDenmark2.192   3 3222225.7%Lager, Light
1488Stockhom Guld 3,5%Sweden2.16   22   32323.5%Lager, Light
1533Maribo Tequila BeerDenmark2.052   3 3122224.7%Lager, Dark
1541Fransen Street Ginger beerSouth Africa2.0412 131  43 43.5%Special
1611Sibebe Special LagerSwaziland1.942 114 2      Lager, Light
1620CoppercastEngland1.932  13   22235.5%Ale, British style
1637Tuborg GrønDenmark1.901   2 2223234.6%Lager, Light
1641Time OutSweden1.892  12   23325.0%Lager, Light
1642Wiibroe Årgångsöl 1998Denmark1.882   2 2231229.8%Lager, Bock
1663Bavaria Edel LagerSouth Africa1.8222 322  11 25.0%Lager, Light
1684Löwenbräu Original 3,5%Germany1.74   12   22323.5%Lager, Light
1684St. Victor's BeerItaly1.74   12   22324.5%Lager, Light
1695Christie's Gold ShandySwaziland1.7112 221  21 50.5%Special
1702Finest Tafel LagerNamibia1.7014 113  22 14.0%Lager, Light
1712Stag Lager BeerTrinidad & Tobago1.681  12   23235.5%Lager, Light
1720Vargöl 3,5%Sweden1.67   13   21223.5%Lager, Light
1727Halala 30 LagerSwaziland1.652  12   22224.5%Lager, Light
1739Colt 45 Strong BeerPoland1.6322  21 2 1  7.8%Lager, Bock
1752Toohey's Red BitterAustralia1.581  21   22235.0%Lager, Light
1771Pripps Julöl Special, klass IISweden1.522   0 2213133.5%Lager, Dark
1772SplügenItaly1.52   11   22324.5%Lager, Light
1790Malt BräuItaly1.45   12   21224.5%Lager, Light
1808Millenium OrangeSweden1.39   11   22225.0%Special
1819Lion LagerSouth Africa1.341 013 2     5.0%Lager, Light
1852Bière du DesertFrance1.10   11   11317.0%Ale, Belgian style
1853Windhoek Light BeerNamibia1.091 11 12     2.0%Lager, Light
1864Carlsberg Master BrewDenmark0.971   2 11111110.5%Lager, Bock
1891Joburg BeerSouth Africa0.080 1100002110 Special
1893Piwo WisniowePoland0.0300  10 0 0  4.5%Special
Rated by: Johan Zetterlund, Mattias Leidebjer, Lars Berggren, Per Samuelsson, Lars Samuelsson, Cecilia Gårbdebäck, Fredrik Huldt, Anna Hultén, Lars Granström, Oscar Hansson, Robert Boström and Minna Hytönen,

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Updated 99-06-16 Per Samuelsson