While it is not wise to judge a beer solely by its label, I believe that a decent label is critical when selling pretty much anything. If a brewer can’t be bothered with the branding on the bottle, it makes me wonder if they can be bothered with the beer within the bottle. I can confidently say that the team at Hoptown are bothered with the branding. The labels are informative, pretty and even feel nice. Win.
So can they also be bothered with the beer within? Yes, I think they can. Let’s start with the lager – a slightly hazy beer with decent head retention. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer’s aroma – it’s all about the malt, with a whiff of toast and the merest suggestion of toffee in the background. The label doesn’t give any hints as to what type of lager this is meant to be, but I’m not in the business of doing BJCP judging on the blog. These reviews are really about whether I enjoyed the beer and would recommend it to you – and I would!. It’s a fairly full-flavoured lager, kicking off with a touch of toffee sweetness but with enough hop bitterness to keep you refreshed and coming back for more. (3½ out of 5)
Having just said that these aren’t BJCP reviews, when it comes to IPA I am a bit of a style Nazi. If it says IPA on the bottle, it had better be an IPA in the bottle. Hoptown’s IPA is, somewhat ironically given the name, a little lacking in the hop department. There is a slightly dank, slightly piney aroma there, but when it’s time to sip I didn’t find enough hop flavour or hop bitterness. The beer is a little muddled and a little muted, but there is potential here. Some tweaking of the recipe (and of the bottling process – mine was overcarbed with a big fat Coke-bubble head) and this could perhaps be as tasty as the bottle is beautiful. (2½ out of 5)
Hoptown beers are contract brewed at Wild Clover Breweries in Stellenbosch.