Shongweni Brewery is nestled in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Robson’s offer a range of unique, locally brewed, globally inspired beers; a range that is changing the way that beer is appreciated here in South Africa.
Motivated by the variety of beers produced around the world they set out to create their own handcrafted beer, using only the finest ingredients, natural processes, and no artificial additives.
West Coast Ale 550ml (5%) – 2009 South African Micro Brewery Champion
West Coast Ale is inspired by brewers of the American West Coast. They use two types of malted barley in their West Coast Ale including a fair proportion of crystal barley. Using Cascade and Northern Brewer hops they make four separate hop additions to the boil to ensure that they get the right balance of aroma and bitterness in this 5% ABV beer. Fermented at colder temperatures than their other beers and retained in the brewery for at least eight weeks conditioning they end up with a balanced, smooth, and surprisingly easy drinking beer.
In the glass the initial rich aroma of biscuity malt is complemented by the spicy character of the hop. The beer pours clear with an intense ruby-red / brown colour and a well developed head that produces a lace-work pattern on the glass as the beer is drunk. The beer is medium bodied, and smooth on the palate which is initially dominated by characteristic crystal malt flavours and then followed by a well balanced hop character in both aroma and a pleasant fruity, or spicy, hop palate.
East Coast Ale 550ml (4%)
East Coast Ale is a South African inspired beer. Most of the year Shongweni Valley and the nearby City of Durban are bathed in warm, sub-tropical sunshine, but KwaZulu Natal does get the odd surprise from Summer storms that refresh the air and make the bush grow again. The people of this area are exciting, diverse and full of energy and optimism.
Robson’s wanted to capture this spirit of the East Coast in their beer. East Coast Ale is a lively, refreshing, smooth, golden ale with the surprise in the aroma and taste.
East Coast Ale is made using a single malt variety and two kinds of hops, Brewers Gold and Challenger. Brewers Gold has a high resin content and provides an excellent balanced bitterness especially when combined with a late aroma hop in golden beers, this is achieved using Challenger hops to give a crisp, fruity character, resulting in a beer with around 25 bitterness units and an ABV of 4%. This beer is fermented using a special ale yeast that imparts its own character to the beer.
In the glass this is a lively beer as befits the East Coast, pouring a yellow/gold colour with a fluffy white head. The aroma is crisp and appetising with citrus lemon and light floral tones. The palate matches the aroma and is crisp with a good citrus and bitter hop bite. The malt contributes smoothness to the beer which is balanced by plenty of tangy fruitiness.
Durban Pale Ale 550ml (5.7%)
Durban Pale Ale was inspired by the original IPA’s produced in Britian and then shipped to India for consumption by the soldiers and bureaucrats. The IPA came via the Cape and records show that some of that beer made its way to the British serving in South Africa. With Durban being a major shipping port barrels of IPA were happily consumed on the East Coast and Durban Pale Ale revives this old tradition.
Only the best malts are used for the Durban Pale Ale, and in order to achieve 5.7% ABV the mash tun is packed full of grains. Cascade hops is used generously to provide some bitterness and the inclusion of Challenger hops provide the crisp, fruity characteristic of the beer, which is complimented by the special strain of English ale yeast for fermentation.
In the glass the beer is a light caramel colour, with an immediate blast of rich orange on the nose, a toffee character and just a hint of spice from the cascade hops. On the palate it is medium- to full-bodied, and the initial sweetness from the sheer amount of barley in this beer is balanced with solid and tangy hops and a gentle fruitiness with a dry after-taste.
Durban Pale Ale is a strong beer and its character will mature over time if cellared producing a complex ale that will reward the patient drinker.
Wheat beer 550ml (5%)
Wheat Beer is inspired by both the German Weissbier tradition and the Witbier style from the low-countries of Belgium and Holland, in that they use unmalted wheat in their brew along with malted barley.
Robson’s Wheat Beer is truly a South African interpretation, brewed for refreshment in our own sub-tropical climate!
The Wheat (unmalted) makes up nearly half of the mash and Hallertau and Saaz hops are then combined into the brew. Hallertau hop is delicate and imparts a floral, slightly fruity character to the beer and with the addition of the Saaz hops an excellent aroma is attained in this beer.
Robson’s Wheat beer is based on some of the oldest brewing recipes known in Europe going back to a time before the use of hops where spices and herbs were used to both flavour and help preserve the beer.
In keeping with this history coriander is also added to this beer in the copper which all results in a beer that is not bitter (around 20 bitterness units), and an ABV of 5%. A special yeast strain, from Germany, is used to ferment the Wheat beer and this in turn imparts its own special flavour to the beer.
In the glass this beer produces a caramel colour with a light and fluffy off-white head. Cloves and spices are picked up in the aroma of this beer as is the caramel character that produces a peachy character to the beer. The palate provides a mixture of both lemon and orange fruit with a modest hop presence. This beer should be served ice-cold in a tall glass on a hot Durban summer afternoon when the combination of the fruit character and light hop presence can really refresh!