When one actually takes the time to start exploring craft beer, you discover that there is a whole world of flavour out there just waiting to be enjoyed. Once you allow your taste-buds the opportunity of sampling new styles and alternative flavours, it is very difficult to go back to the normal, the mundane.
I have recently signed up to a couple of websites that allow you to not only see the multitude of beers available around the world, but also focus on regional styles that are available, and in our case, available in South Africa. RateBeer.com & BeerAdvocate.com are two such sites and I was extremely interested in seeing their top rated South African beers.
The ratings are not a sign of which beer sells best, as we all are told that Carling Black Label is the top seller in South Africa, but rather how real beer drinkers like you and I perceive them. Beers are rated based on a combination of criteria that include Appearance, Smell, Taste, Mouthfeel and the Overall Impression the beer leaves you with.
It’s not always easy getting one’s senses in a row to actually pinpoint the flavours and smells that combine to provide the intricate flavours of your beer, but the more one focuses one’s attention on noting flavours, the easier it becomes.
I have taken a list of South Africa’s top rated beers as they appear on RateBeer.com, and I think it is very interesting. There are quite a few I have never seen before, and there are a number that I am really dying to taste. I won’t like them all, but each deserves respect because they were made with passion, and care, with the end drinker in mind – and thank goodness we aren’t all sheep, otherwise the beer on offer would all be the same.
Here is a list of SA’s Top Rated Beer for 2011:
1 Bierwerk Aardwolf – Sweet Stout
2 Draymans Altstadt Weissbier – German Hefeweizen
3 Bierwerk Vlakvark – Bitter
4 Shongweni Robsons West Coast Ale – American Dark Lager
5 Gilroy Serious Dark Ale – English Strong Ale
6 Shongweni Robsons Durban Pale Ale – American Pale Ale
7 Gilroy Traditional Ruby Ale – Irish Ale
8 Castle Milk Stout – Sweet Stout
9 Zululand Zulu Blonde – Golden Ale/Blond Ale
10 Shongweni Robsons East Coast Ale – Golden Ale/Blond Ale
11 Boston Premium Lager – Premium Lager
12 Sneeuberg Karoo Ale – Golden Ale/Blond Ale
13 Hansa Marzen Gold – Oktoberfest/Märzen
14 Birkenhead Old English Bitter – Bitter
15 Savanna Dry Premium Cider – Cider
16 Hunters Extra Dry – Cider
17 Shongweni Robsons Wheat Beer – German Hefeweizen
18 Shongweni Robsons Strawberry Fruit Beer – Fruit Beer
19 Hunters Pure Gold – Cider
20 Draymans Berghof – Kölsch
21 Shongweni Robsons Mango Fruit Beer – Fruit Beer
22 Bavaria Premium Draught – Pale Lager
23 Hansa Pilsener – Pilsener
24 Shongweni Robsons Pineapple Fruit Beer – Fruit Beer
25 Savanna Light Premium Cider – Cider
26 Birkenhead Premium Lager – Premium Lager
27 Castle Lager – Pale Lager
28 Castle Lite – Pale Lager
29 Lion Lager – Pale Lager
30 Carling Black Label Beer – Pale Lager
31 Nottingham Road Pye Eyed Possum Pilsener – Pilsener
This is going to require a few posts to properly dissect and investigate – ahhh what a pleasure to get to know beer better! But I would be interested to hear what your thoughts are on the above, and whether you agree with the order. Naturally we all have our own favourites, and if you disagree strongly, the sign up to these sites and rate the beers for yourself!
It just means that there is so much to learn about. So much to discover, because, after all, life’s too short for bad beer.