Robson’s is a craft beer range from Shongweni Breweries in KwaZulu Natal. They make a range of beers, but today, I’m looking at their West Coast Ale.

Robson’s West Coast Ale

(5% ABV; 550ml bottled)

Appearance: Amber, red

Aroma: Candy floss and spicy, earthy hops.

Taste: Shongweni’s website says that the West Coast Ale features Northern Brewer and Cascade hops. That made me want to try this beer, since I love American hop varieties. Initial tastes are of Cascade’s fruity flavours, but not as crisp and clear as one would want. After-taste is slightly bitter with some vegetable notes, which may indicate inappropriate hopping.

Overall, this is a somewhat confusing beer, since the presence of sugary crystal malt indicates an amber style, while Shongweni claims that it is both an ale and a lager. Perhaps they mean that this is a California Common (lager brewed at ale temperatures)? If so, it lacks the crisp notes of a lager, and doesn’t quite fit the fruity flavour profiles of good American Ale.

While I wouldn’t want to be a style-policeman when it comes to any beer, the West Coast Ale just doesn’t come together in a well balanced way.

On a side note, it would be nice if more South African craft breweries followed the US trend of displaying more info on their beer labels (IBUs, hops used, malts used, style). This is a great way of educating the beer consumer and encouraging homebrewers to try their own versions.