HAVE you ever wandered if Africa made any beer? And if it was any good? Neither have I. Yet here we have a bottle of Castle Lager.
The neck label is home to most of the juicy details on this bottle.
The front has the Castle logo. Which is, as you’d expect, a castle. Strange though, as most African people didn’t build castles. The name of the “founder brewer” is given as one “Charles Glass”. And around the curvy lip of the neck label is the description “perfectly balanced”. Balance is good. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all?
Turning the neck label to the left, and a few more clues about Castle’s origin are revealed.
Under the “no additives” and “no preservatives” is a name an address. Castle Lager was “Brewed by SAB Ltd” in Sandton, South Africa. It’s also brewed under license from SAB Miller Finance BV. The same SAB Miller that Wikipedia tells us came from South African origins to become the worlds largest brewer. Crikey.
Over on the right-hand side of the neck label, and the details are rather more down to earth.
Under the “enjoy responsibly” message are the small print details. This little bottle is 330 millilitres. The alcoholic volume is 5%. And it contains malted barley, maize, hops and water. Differentiation isn’t their thing then. All of that is practically identical to hundreds of other beers on the market.
The main front label carries some class in it’s design however.
It features a big, rectangular roundel with a classic wavey banner through the middle. Around the top border, we’re informed that this is “The Premium African Lager”. Does anyone know of any other African beers or lagers? Is Castle number-one or not? Answers in the comments at the end of this post please.
Split by the big Castle logo is a date. 1895 gives Castle more heritage than I expected. A considerably more than many Asian beers. This is a good sign. Besides all the usual marketing speak about “perfection”, “finest quality”, “care” and “natural ingredients”, there are what look like medals. Let’s have a closer look…
One of them is an “AIBA Gold Medal”. The one in the middle is hard to read, but I think it refers to a “Brewing Industry International Award” in 2000. And the medal on the left, in microscopic lettering, has the year 1907. How much faith should we put into an award that is over one-hundred years old?
The back label takes the approach of repeating things from the other label around a large barcode.
Everything on this little label we have already talked about. So without further delay, it’s time to try my first African beer. It’s a lager, so expectations aren’t high.
There isn’t much to say about how Castle Lager looks once you pour it into a glass. It’s pale yellow and it’s fizzy. Except that the head it comes with froths up very enthusiastically. Beware of this if you try and pour. It dies down a little, but you’ll still have a satisfyingly thick layer of froth sitting atop your glass.
The smell is exactly like every other lager. A faint blend of malted barley. Will that carry over to the taste?
Yes. It tastes exactly how it smells. It has a taste of a blend of malted barley and the other arable ingredients in there. But not in the satisfying ale way. Rather, in the ‘sharp’, light and unsatisfying lager way. Interestingly, the bitterness and sourness lingers longer with this lager than many others I’ve tried.
To its credit, it is clean, crisp and refreshing. It also has a lightness of character that some people will like. It certainly makes it easy to drink. The absence of strong flavours will also be to many peoples tastes. There is not much here to offend the taste buds. The quality of the product shows too.
That said, it is watery and devoid of body and flavour. There is hardly anything distinctive to be found. And in a chiller cabinet next to bottles of other beers and lagers, there isn’t much reason to choose this over the competition.
I liked Castle Lager more than yesterday’s bottle of Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer. This one has a tastier blend. If I was travelling in Africa, I would have no problem cooling down with a bottle of Castle. And over here, it would go very well with a hot meal. Or even for someone looking for ‘just a beer’ that anyone would get along with. One of those situations where you have to buy in some drinks for some friends and don’t know what types of beer everyone likes, so you opt for the least offensive. This could be your choice. But at the end of the day, it is still a tasteless, boring lager.
Have you tried Castle Lager? Or any other Castle beers? Or even any other beers from Africa? What did you think?
Leave your opinions, thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the usual place please.