I’ve only ever tasted one other California Common (Anchor Steam, of course) so I don’t have much to compare Robson’s West Coast Ale (from Shongweni Brewery in KZN) to. The beer placed third in the 2013 SA Craft Beer Championships, though for me, it doesn’t match up with the BJCP style guidelines too well. A very dark shade of copper/brown and with roasty, chocolate-like aromas, it’s not quite the beer that the label claims.
But does that matter? Well, I’m saving the ‘brewing to a style’ blog post for another day, but what you need to know now is that this is a very drinkable beer. It’s probably a lot more roasty and toasty than a California Common should be, but it’s a full-flavoured and fairly rich brew. I got a certain amount of breadiness, which, along with the toast and chocolate made me write “Nutella on toast in my notes.
There’s a great malt-hop balance, with a pleasing bitter finish helped by both the hop additions and the roasted malt.
Brian, Shongweni’s owner and brewer, recommends it with a meat potjie or a marinated steak. I’d like to add barbeque ribs, with a nice caramelised glaze, to the list.
Where? Robson’s beers are widely found at liquor stores and bars throughout KZN and in select spots in Jo’burg and Cape Town. You can also buy from the brewery’s online shop.
How much? A 550ml bottle retails at around R25-30.