I’ve been waiting a long time to taste the beers from Stellenbosch Brewing Company. I met brewer/co-owner Bruce Collins at a SouthYeasters meeting over three years ago, and the brewery was featured in the ‘Ones to watch’ section of African Brew back in early 2013. And now, after years of recipe development, company development and general planning, the brewery is finally open at Joostenberg in the northern reaches of Stellenbosch. They’ve already been getting some international love for their rather awesome labels, sporting best before dates (so few SA craft beers have them), RSA flags, embossed foil detail and perhaps most importantly of all, plenty of squirrels.
So what lies behind the gorgeous labels? Stellies have launched with a range of four core beers – a lager (refreshing, slightly fruity, could be crisper for the style), a pale ale (good entry level ale, I’d like a little more hoppage), a stout (haven’t tasted it yet) and their weiss.
Of the three that I have tasted, the weiss is definitely the pick of the bunch. Aromas, unsurprisingly, of banana, clove and bubblegum are in perfect balance. I think the beer will be a big hit thanks to its approachability (that’s a word, right?) – it’s not as full bodied as many a hefeweizen and at 4.5% ABV, it’s definitely at the lower end of the alcohol scale. It was a touch over-carbonated for my liking, but then not so much that it fizzes up in your mouth and makes you emit a Barney Gumble-esque belch… If you like a big, rounded weiss it might not be for you, but it’s perfect for the Stellenbosch summer – not too sweet, very refreshing and goes down easier than any glass of wine… 😉
Stellies tap room will be open by the end of the year. Until then, you can find their beer in the usual bottle stores – Claremont Liquor City, Roeland, Bottelary Hills and the like. Taste the range and tell us what you think…