So, the conspiracy theories have somewhat died down and the beers have been released. Whatever your opinion on the matter – and many of you voiced yours here – 3 Fransen Street, the “craft” arm of SAB is now open for business.
After a low-key launch at SAB HQ in Sandton, the beers first found their way into the drinking public’s glasses at the Johannesburg Festival of Beer last weekend. Here’s what they’re brewing and what I thought of them:
Krystal Weiss (4.5%): A filtered wheat beer that is as clear as you’d expect an SAB brew to be. Delivers plenty of banana on the aroma, with a touch of spice. Sweet entry, something of a dry finish – a fine example of the style and for me (and the beer geeks I tasted the launch beers with), the best of the initial trio of Fransen Street brews.
Red Ale (4.5%): Gorgeous deep copper colour. Toffee and toast on the nose – flavours that follow up when you sip. A pleasant roasted bitterness, but a little lacking in body for my liking.
Cream Ale (4.5%): Wow. Just wow. Bizarre is a word that springs to mind. As I sat and sniffed with my beer geek buddies, each uttered a slightly different opinion on what they could smell. “Waffles”, said one. “Ice cream”, said another. “Those milk bottle candies”, “vanilla essence”, “fudge” or just plain toffee. Me? I feel like SAB have gone a little literal here, for what I got was cream soda. None of the above is appropriate for the style but comes from the addition of toffee and vanilla extract. I was told that women love it. I beg to differ.By all accounts, it was extremely popular at the Fest of Beer. It tastes just like it smells, by the way. If you don’t like beer, you’ll probably love it.
So there you have the launch beers, but there are more to come.3 Fransen Street will brew a total of eight beers, though only three will be available at a time. That’s where the “batch” brewing comes in. They will brew a “small” (that’s 6000 litres in case you were wondering) batch of each ale, send it out to the 75-ish Gauteng outlets where it will be sold, then set about brewing the next on the list, rotating them according to popularity and such.
The five remaining beers are dunkel weiss, pale ale, bock, porter and honey weiss.
Have you tasted the Fransen Street beers? What did you think? Which are you looking forward to tasting? Or are you a hater who resolves to never taste the beers?