Drunk driving needlessly costs the lives of hundreds of South Africans on our roads every year. And every year, various companies try to create the campaign that will get the message through our skulls that driving drunk is one of the stupidest things you can do.
Nothing totally works, of course - SA still has one of the world’s most prolific drink-driving problems - but if they make any discernable impact, it’s typically the more graphic campaigns, literally and figuratively, that do so.
So, as part of their Reality Check campaign, SAB have put together a surprisingly well-made online game that aims to raise awareness about drunk driving by very literally showing how drunk driving can and has affected you and your friends.
The premise of Last Round is pretty simple: after stumbling out of a party, the player is presented with a number of choices to get back home, such as calling a cab or taking a ride home with a mate. Each option has a different outcome, but the fun quickly turns bad if you make the wrong choice. Players are then encouraged to share their personal stories through Facebook. It has the potential to be a powerful campaign.
Better still, SAB is upping their message by giving away two six-month memberships to Good Fellas chauffeur services, each worth over R2500, through Suip! this week. Good Fellas are a personal chauffeur service (fancy) who pick you up from your night out anywhere in anyone of South Africa’s major centres and drop you off at home in your own car.
So, how do you win this awesome prize? Simply retweet this tweet from @SUIPEXCLAMATION (link) and you’re in the draw!
In the meantime, check out Last Round here. Winners will be announced next week.
In case you didn’t catch Monday’s post, let’s recap: last weekend Cape Town had two big beer festivals. One was a infrastructurally challenged, but excellent third incarnation of the We Love Real Beer Craft Beer Festival at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Not 5km away, but lightyears apart in conception and execution, the weekend-long Oktober Bierfest was in full swing on SAB Newlands Village Green. I went on the Sunday afternoon to have a look around.
I have to admit: my expectations were hilariously low. Oktober Bierfest Cape Town asked R75 for a day ticket with no passouts, which meant that, if you got hungry, you couldn’t nip across the road to Dean Street for a meal or a snack. Compounding my apprehension was the knowledge that the festival worked on tokens, the website stating that each token (or crown) cost R20 and were purchased in packs of 5, meaning you had to buy R100’s worth. Beers cost two crowns, and you had to buy packs of five crowns? A good recipe for making stacks of money, I thought.
But that was just the cynic in me. Happily you could purchase as many crowns as you wanted in any quantity you wanted, so if you wanted just two crowns for one beer, you were welcome to just buy two with either cash or card.
Naturally, my first concern on arrival were the beers. SAB’s microbrewery in Johannesburg had brewed three “speciality” beers for the event, each of which were on sale for R40 per maß, which is exactly one litre. That meant that beer was cheaper here than at WLRB, but you had to buy more of it.
The three beers, the Krystal Weiss, the Munich Dunkel and the Oktoberfest Bavaria were all OK. But you can easily tell from all three that SAB know their market: they were all filtered and pasteurised. Diesel shirts and reflective sunglasses guys don’t like bits floating around in their beer - no way. Forgiving the sin of filtering, I can say that the Krystal Weiss was passable with unimaginative notes of what I could only assume were the bog standard clove and citrus; the Oktoberfest Bavaria was golden and slightly malty, but lacked body. The Dunkel was the best of the three by some way: a bit sweet with light caramel and nutty notes and a surprisingly satisfying malt.
In short, they were decent imitations of the real deal. Imitations, not because SAB are incapable of making the real deal, but because they tailor even their ‘craft’ beer to be deepthroated in lake-like quantities.
That said, the patrons here, unlike the patrons at We Love Real Beer festival, for the most part aren’t too fussed with the complexities of the beers they’re drinking. And that’s totally cool. Not everybody should be a douche about beer like I am.
An encouraging sign, however, was “brewers’ corner” in the corner of one of the sections of the massive main tent, where people could taste the beers on offer and get an introduction to how beer is made, being able to touch, smell and taste different kinds of malt, flower hops and hop pellets. (Curiously, however, no maize was on display.)
There were plenty of other nice touches too. Looking past the massive tent with its tacky fake plastic windows and flower pots, you could find a handful of old SAB memorabilia and things like Kronenberg wagons that tried to emphasise the Bavarian-ness of the event. Nothing could quite shake the feeling that it was a very shallow interpretation of Bavarian beer culture though: the beer maids were all fetishised, uniformed and had things like “tips please” written on their cleavage; the menu was composed mostly of schnitzel and wurst; and the imposing buildings of SAB Newlands surrounding the Village Green ruined the countryside feel. It wasn’t bad, no, but it felt a little like St Patrick’s Day, but with people gleefully cherry-picking the culture of Germany instead of Ireland.
The one thing that couldn’t have been criticised was the band. Singer KeeZee fronted an excellent Oom-pah band, complete with horn section, accordionist and a bunch of maß onstage, who played a long set, entirely in German, that had the crowd happy and dancing on the tables. They play every month at the Paulaner Brauhaus at the Waterfront, and I think I might go down there one night when play. It’d be bound to be a great time. (Also, I’m a big fan of Paulaner’s weiss. Two good reasons, I guess.)
I feel that I must admit here that I was comped my ticket by SAB. Oktober Bierfest was a perfectly good time with good, if mildly inauthentic, atmosphere and OK beer. Would I have gone if I didn’t have a free ticket? Probably not. R75 is pretty steep for a student, even though the entertainment is good and the festival is well run. I’d rather give my money to breweries who appreciate the patronage more and don’t see festivals solely as money-making exercises. That’s the point when it comes to beer festivals: they’re not competitions. There are different kinds of festival for different kinds of patrons.
The Johannesburg Oktober Bierfest, which takes place 27-30 October at Montescasino, is R100 entry, but I still have a feeling it’s going to be mobbed and SAB will make a killing. Would I go to it? No. Admittedly, it’s not really my type of thing, and I really dislike Montecasino. But don’t let me dissuade you: if you have a couple hundred bucks burning a hole in your trousers, don’t take your beer or your Bavarian culture too seriously and plan on getting a bit watered on Dunkel, then I’d say you’d probably really enjoy it.
Oh, but eat beforehand if you’re a vegetarian. Just saying.
I am regularly told that I praise SAB too much, that I’m not the vehement opponent of scientific or industrialised that I should be. Well, there’s a good reason for that, because I’m really not opposed to scientific or industrial brewing at all, and therefore I’m not fundamentally opposed to SAB like a lot of people who enjoy craft beer are. In reality, SAB exist on a different plane to South(ern) Africa’s micro- and macrobrewing communities. There exists a dichotomy in many people’s minds between SAB and craft brewing that is in my opinion false. I know it’s tempting to think like that - because that was my opinion for a long time too - but I think it’s reasonable to say that SAB has a wholly legitimate part to play as both a beer producer and a listed company, especially in a country like ours where most people can’t even begin to imagine being able to regularly afford craft beer.
That said, SAB do bad things sometimes, and Carling Black Label’s latest publicity stunt is a case in point. Their attempt to “rename” the town of Darling to Carling for the duration of the Rocking the Daisies music festival, which is taking place in the Western Cape’s most affectionately-named town this coming weekend, is one of the most meat-brained things I’ve heard of in my life.
Mr Cape Town writes:
“We’re taking over Darling and we’re giving it a Champion name. It’s not Darling, it’s Carling,” explains Carmen Heunis, Carling Black Label Brand Campaign Manager. Show your support for this movement by visiting the website and add your names to the online petition. Join the campaign and win a set of double tickets to the festival. Spread the word and do whatever you can to make this happen.
Well known to SAB and Carling’s marketers, Darling already has a brewing namesake: the eponymous Darling Brewery (link).
I can just imagine the SAB marketer who thought, eyes widening, “Darling… Carling? That’s like - oh, oh my God - that’s, like, one letter’s difference.”
This may seem pretty harsh - it’s just marketing on the surface, after all - but it’s a shame how a local brewery is being implicitly bullied in what is essentially their market and on what is essentially their turf, even if they’re Darling’s in name only at the moment (they brew at Boston Breweries’ premises with Darling-grown wheat) - especially as it seems to be done with a great deal of spite.
But on second thought, it doesn’t just seem spiteful. The campaign’s “It’s not Darling, it’s Carling” slogan is too pointed and too exact to not have spiteful undertones.
I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I would link you to the Carling, Not Darling site but my gut feeling is that it’s a premise that is far too idiotic for me to consider pushing whatever little traffic I receive directly towards it.
If you are going to Rocking the Daisies this weekend - and you should because the lineup, which includes Lark, Belleruche, Gazelle, Civil Twilight and aKing, is exceptional - you should try find some Darling beers while you’re in town. They’re delicious, and possibly even more so after a weekend trudging ankle-deep through a field of discarded Black Label tallboys.
This weekend at the Toffie Food Festival at Cape Town City Hall, SAB brought along two speciality beers (along with Castle Milk Stout) on tap. They made the intelligent move of putting the taps for these three beers in the craft beer hall, amongst the Mitchell’s, Napiers and Darlings, where business was good and consistent all day. They left their taps for things like Castle Light and Black Label Draught on the other side of City Hall, in a big old room whose only saving graces were beautiful ceilings and a couple guys selling delicious looking pies.
Disregarding Milk Stout, which I reviewed last week (link), I first tried a regular SAB speciality brew, one that has made its appearance a couple times before at various beer festivals. Brewed with marula fruit, Lerula Lager had an inviting fruity bouquet, and was quite sweet and easy on the palate. As I ordered it at 11am, I didn’t drink it with great gusto, but I was impressed when the sweet marula and granadilla fruits on the palate mellowed out considerably as I continued drinking my pint. Although it lacked complexity - which I’m relatively sure SAB wasn’t too worried about with this one - the beer has good mouth feel for a lager, and remained light and delicious throughout.
I would like to point out something, though. It’s something that will only make sense if you’re a South African under 30 years of age. If you are, forget what I said above and try to remember only this about SAB’s Lerula Lager:
GUYS THIS BEER ACTUALLY TASTES A LOT LIKE SCHWEPPES GRANADILLA.
It made me a little giddy when I managed to place the taste, and, needless to say, I enjoyed the beer even more once I had done so. Recommended.
Next up was SAB’s one-off beer for the festival. It being the Toffie Food Festival this weekend, SAB’s microbrewery in Johannesburg created something quite amazing. They called it the Toffo Cream Ale.
The wafts of sweet, sweet toffee aroma that come off this beer are unreal. To be honest, it smells more like toffee than actual toffee. I was expecting a sickly sweet ale, but was surprised when the toffee bouquet translated into what was really a very mellow toffee flavour, mitigated by light maltiness and a good handful of hops. Against all expectations, the Toffo Cream Ale wasn’t sweet, nor was it creamy, come to think of it.
It was delicious with the savoury pastries on sale from the Queen of Tarts next door, and was drinkable throughout. The brewer from SAB Newlands in attendance seemed rather nonplussed when asked about it. “I honestly have no idea how they’ve brewed this,” he said dismissively.
I couldn’t even begin to guess. It probably has to do with a vat of toffee flavourant. I don’t know. I don’t really want to know, in fact.
But they were sneaky, old SAB. Each pint was R20, which wasn’t awful considering the Lerula was a speciality and the Toffo Cream was a one-off, and the money went to charity, which sounds great at first.
All money collected from the three beers on sale in the craft beer hall was donated to The Friends of the Liesbeek River.
This should ring some bells: if you were paying attention when I was talking about my visit to SAB last week, you’d have remembered that SAB Newlands only uses water from the Liesbeek in brewing their 10 Olympic swimming pools of beer each day. Although I am a conservationist at heart, this seems like quite a self-serving ploy on SAB’s part. A smart spin to put onto a worthy cause, yes, but a case of self-serving charity nonetheless. But, you know what? If the Friends of the Liesbeek River look after the African clawed frog and make sure water abstraction during the summer months doesn’t get out of hand, as well as making sure SAB Newlands have clean water with which to brew their beer as a concomitant, then good on them.
(Correction: Originally I thought SAB’s charity-giving had ulterior motives, but I have since been corrected - SAB’s water comes from a nearby, but different source. The donation is, in fact, towards an excellent cause. Apologies.)
In any case, the beer from SAB this weekend was refreshing. Yes, they’re still brewed with the utmost scientific rigours and still lacking the complexity of their neighbours in the Toffie craft beer hall, but, you know, it’s OK. The Lerula Lager and Toffo Cream Ale were imaginative, quite delicious and suited the festival in which they were sold very well.
If you didn’t get to the Toffie Food Festival this weekend, then I’m afraid you missed out on a good thing. Hopefully it will be back next spring, and I recommend that you go if you can make it. Maybe there’ll be some interesting new beers then, too.
Toffie Food Festival is happening this weekend at Cape Town City Hall. Day tickets are R50; VIP all-access passes are R1500.
Wonder which ticket I’ll be buying?
It’s not all bad though: that Julie chick from that Julie & Julia movie will be giving a talk, amongst other great things, so I suggest, if you have a grand and a half burning a hole in your trousers, you pick up one of the last tickets remaining at http://toffie.co.za/ ! The ticket also includes 5 meals a day (!) and lots of workshops and great conferences. If I was a yuppie, I’d definitely go. Unfortunately I have no job (this relegates me to the “hipster” demographic) and thus I cannot attend all that great stuff.
The reason I’ll be going, in lieu of Julia Child’s would-be-protegé? It seems that lots of great craft brewers and “ye olde enemy”, a.k.a. The South African Breweries Ltd., will be selling some specialist brews at the festival, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try them! Also my housemate likes buildings and City Hall is a building so I guess he’ll want to go too. Architects, you know?
So: see you there?
Castle Milk Stout, at the risk of sounding clichéd and patronising like so many Castle TV spots, is a real South African classic. Brewed in South Africa and Tanzania, it has been drunk throughout sub-Saharan Africa out of its iconic blue and gold cans for scores of years. I drank it with frightening regularity myself when I was living in residence at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, usually while sitting around a hookah on cold, rainy weekend afternoons with a few buddies. It’s Everyman’s stout - light and smooth with hints of cocoa, tree nuts and slight toffee undertones. Even out of old cans it was never metallic or overly bitter, although it tended to have a very slight, whispy aftertaste of cigarette smoke. Its humble drinkability is probably what made it a mainstay throughout Southern and West Africa.
And Vietnam. Yeah, it’s also brewed in Vietnam. Forgot about that.
But something quite incredibly has recently happened to Castle Milk Stout. Some remarkably misguided man in SAB’s marketing department decided that it would be a great idea to market Castle Milk Stout as an aspirational brand targeting, well, the aspirational class: Black Diamonds. A traditional mainstay of the black working class is now being positioned towards the fast-growing, affluent black upper-middle class and those who one day want to be part of it. It strikes me as odd, and I can’t quite figure out the reasoning behind it: are sales of Milk Stout simply decreasing in low-income demographics, or are SAB trying to target Black Diamonds who are looking to their roots or seeking to maintain some form of working class legitimacy?
I don’t know. I’m not SAB, and I’m not a Black Diamond, so I can’t answer those questions. I can only drink beer.
Part of SAB’s rebranding of Castle Milk Stout is its countrywide release (or re-release) of the beer on tap. I suppose it’s to put Milk Stout in direct competition with Guinness at the taps, but the reasons could be numerous.
What does matter is that it is a dramatically different beer when poured fresh from tap. God, is it nice. I managed to have a full 500ml draught of the stuff while at SAB’s Letterstedt Pub, and I was very satisfied with it.
Castle Lager and Castle Milk Stout are both made with a not insignificant amount of maize added to the malt and hops. Windhoek Lager from Namibia sneakily derided SAB beers in a well-known advertising campaign in which Hollywood actor Louis Gossett Jr. explains that Windhoek Lager is made using only hops, barley and water - and “no other stuff”. One infers from the advert that “other stuff” probably means some sort of chemical, and that Windhoek is a purer, superior beer because they don’t taint their beers with such things. (And also because they got Louis Gossett Jr. to come in and do a killer ad campaign.)
But there’s a problem with that assumption: you can’t really add chemicals to decent beer. What Windhoek was meaning, in a rather underhanded way, was that they don’t add maize, which SAB uses in most of its beers, with different ratios of malt to maize in each of its products. Sacrilege to many beer drinkers, but many megabrewers do it this way.
Milk Stout uses a slow-roasted dark malt, instead of Castle Lager’s light malt, with an appropriate amount of maize to deliver a sweet, but definitely not sickly-sweet draught. The “milk” in the name “Milk Stout” comes from, according to my copy of Michael Jackson’s (disappointingly, not that MJ) Pocket Beer Book 2000/01, added lactose. It looks terrifically inviting, pouring ink black with a delicious looking tan-coloured head that takes a good minute or two to settle.
Having it come straight out of a keg does wonders to the aroma. It suddenly comes alive with coffee notes accented by the deep roast of the malt. The added maize keeps the stout relatively light, and all facets of its bitterness, sweetness and creaminess are augmented by extra carbonation. It goes down very well.
The head stays thumb thick all the way down like a decent stout should. In fact, this isn’t “like” a decent stout. It is a decent stout. I like it much better than Guinness, which is the go-to stout at most South African bars and, although SAB seems intent on remarketing it to an emerging class, to me it will always be Everyman’s. It’s cheap, dependable and delicious.
Castle Milk Stout Draught; 500ml draught; 6% abv.
Pros: great bouquet and palate; my God is it creamy; very drinkable.
Cons: draught not readily available in SA bars; questionable new marketing campaign; will make you incredibly fat.
Oh, and one last thing: SAB’s Letterstedt Bar is terrific. I hope they open it up to the public at some point, as, with its pool tables, warm decor and fresh draught, it’s bound to do well. There’s plenty of great memorabilia around from the early days of Ohlsson’s and SAB, and there’s plenty of room.
However, my opinion is probably skewed because it was very sparsely populated when I visited it: I would imagine that the atmosphere could also be awful, especially on rugby or cricket match days at Newlands. Right now you can only go there via appointment, or after an SAB Brewery tour, but word is that it will be open to the public at some point, so time will tell. There won’t be any craft beers within a mile of it, but if you’re someone without a palate for craft, or you just want to shoot a game of pool in a nice setting, it’d be worth a shot.
Following my reflection on my relationship with SAB a while back, I decided to go on one of SAB’s little-publicised brewery tours.
Let me get one thing out of the way first: SAB Newlands is a massive compound. There is no way to describe the volume and efficiency of brewing that goes on here other than saying it is colossal. Its system of assembly lines and pipes and valves is somewhere in between a pre-packaged foods manufacturer and an oil refinery. Underneath it all though, this is a site of a history of brewing that stretches back more than three centuries and the foundation of a brewing empire that stretches across the globe. SAB Newlands is South Africa’s oldest and most significant brewery.
But it hasn’t always been like this. Beer brewing started at the Cape in 1658, a full six months before any wine production started. While brewing at the Cape first started at the Cape Fort (which was eventually rebuilt as the famous Cape Town Castle), a man by the name of Pieter Visagie started brewing beer in Newlands with water from the Liesbeek River, a river whose source is an everlasting flow of rainwater from the slopes of Table Mountain. While it used to be crystal clear and clean, the Liesbeek isn’t suitable for consumption anymore. SAB now use water from the nearby Ohlsson Spring, and it is still the only water source used for brewing at the Newlands Brewery. Considering that twenty two million litres of beer go out of SAB Newlands every day, using spring water must also have its economic benefits.
Although a small brewery is known to have existed on the banks of the Liesbeek in the 1820s, the Mariendahl Brewery as it stands today on the grounds of SAB Newlands was built a few decades later by Jacob Letterstedt, one of South Africa’s first great commercial brewers. He died not long after the brewery’s completion, however, and a young Swede called Anders Ohlsson took over. He married an incredibly ugly woman and made the Ohlsson’s brewery famous throughout the country. After mergers with other breweries around the country, including Castle and Lion in olden-day Transvaal, Lion Lager was first brewed here in 1889 and, following a further marathon series of incorporations and expansions, it became part of a empire that would, in a century’s time, control 98% of the South African beer market. Soon a flourishing suburb, two world-leading sports stadia and a megabrewery would be built around it.
The tour guide said that we couldn’t take photos inside the factory itself for security reasons. I didn’t know anyone in the tour group, so I just took my time at the back and managed to sneak away for once or twice to snap a few shots.
The fermentation cellar at SAB is simply massive. There are a few score fermentation tanks and the smell that comes from them and the chemicals they use to wash the place is truly oppressive. Water drips from the arteries and veins of piping systems that crawl over every ceiling and wall. Outside, pipes run from building to building like spiders’ webs.
Upstairs you can look at and into the mash tuns that begin the brewing process in earnest. Everything is cacophonous, and much of the tour has to be done wearing headphones that enable you to hear the tour guide.
You also get a good peek at the bottling line, which is a dizzying maze of bottles, labels, quart crates and bottle crowns. Bottles shoot past at a thundering pace, and the buzz of the factory floor is punctuated by the occasional exploding bottle at the crowning station.
It all results in this: beer as far as the eye can see. Innumerable cases of quarts lie in warehouses where trucks load up around the clock. They rumble out the brewery gates and past my house, disturbing any semblance of suburban quiet. The scale of the operation and its output is truly mesmerising, even more so when one considers that this isn’t even SAB’s most productive brewery - it’s just its oldest and most picturesque.
In the Mariendahl Brewery itself, you can find various relics from the history of South Africa’s beer history, including old beer barrels, an old locomotive that used to deliver barley to the brewery, and much of the antique brewing equipment itself.
Mariendahl was what was known as a tower brewery, a type of brewery in which the brewing process starts, oddly enough, at the top of a tower. The liquids descend the tower as they gradually go through the brewing process until, at the bottom, beer (or something like it) results. All of the original equipment - save for the mash tuns, I think - have been retained. It’s a fascinating piece of engineering to study. A series of wooden staircases linking the tanks and tuns create exquisite vertical geometry all the way up the tower.
Newlands is an incredibly special place, and it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did without the brewing that has defined its industry and character for the past 350 years or so. One can harp on in pretentious veins about the pitfalls of industrialised or scientific brewing, but without these factories, South Africa would simply not be the place it is today. The precision and engineering that goes into producing most of the 2 billion litres of beer that South Africans drink every year is astonishing, despite my ambivalence towards SAB’s products. Yes, there are corporate imperatives and unsavoury mergers and deals at the business level where everything is abstract and the aim is profit and global domination, but a lot of these things would not be there if it weren’t for a succession of people who were obsessed with - and rather good at - brewing beer from the Liesbeek River.
Although this may not be the source that craft brewers in South Africa want it to come from, there is no better refutation to the claims that South Africa has no beer culture than the very fact that this compound of buildings exists. It’s a monolith of brewing, and it’s here to stay, whether we like it or not.
Somewhat shamefully, I am a bit of a budding academic. I periodically fantasise about submitting papers and letters about South African literature to various newspapers and journals. Due to the length of time it takes to get anything reviewed and published, I rarely take the effort and time to do it, although I am working on a few pieces right now, including a thesis on Jonny Steinberg, author of Three-Letter Plague, The Number and other excellent books.
tl;dr I’m a massive dork.
When I find a piece of work I particularly like, I get a little bit excited. Today I found a book written by a scholar at Indiana University in the States last year about beer in South Africa, and so I ordered only one of three copies left on Amazon.com. I’m looking forward very much to receiving it. There is relatively little written about beer history in South Africa - that’s hopefully where this blog can help pick up some of the slack - so my discovery of the existence of this book has brightened my day a bit.
Until I receive it in three weeks’ time (priority shipping is prohibitively expensive), I leave you with the abstract:
Beer connects commercial, social, and political history in this sobering look at the culture of drinking in South Africa. Beginning where stories of colonial liquor control and exploitation leave off, Anne Kelk Mager looks at the current commerce of beer, its valorizing of male sociability and sports, and the corporate culture of South African Breweries [SAB], the world’s most successful brewing company. Mager shows how the industry, dominated by a single brewer, was compelled to comply with legislation that divided customers along racial lines, but also promoted images of multi-racial social drinking in the final years of apartheid. Since the transition to majority rule, SAB has rapidly expanded into new markets—including the United States with the purchase of Miller Brewing Company. This lively book affords a unique view into global manufacturing, monopolies, politics and public culture, race relations, and cold beer.
I can’t wait to read it, even though it is possibly the ugliest book I have ever, ever seen. Holy smokes, Indiana, don’t you guys have a graphics department or something?
Hansa Pilsener got a rebrand! And it looks great, I think. Here are the new quarts:
The quart labels have, well, a lot less things on them now. Gone is the abundance of text around the red banding. The type itself has gone full Modernist, and it looks very slick with the reduced copy. It isn’t as legible as the old design, but I think it looks a real sight better.
The colour palette has also been reduced to three colours plus gold, and the internal crest has been recoloured, retraced and has generally been made sleeker. The hop has been made noticeably larger, which is appropriate considering Hansa Pilsener is brewed with floral and spicy Saaz hops in lieu of South African hops. Of course, the Saaz hop is at the core of Hansa Pilsener’s marketing.
The neck and back labels now have red accents, and there is a substantial amount of variation in size between different textual elements, creating a much more nuanced use of negative space. But, as much as I like the new labels, I just don’t know if it suits a beer like Hansa Pilsener. A part of me quite really liked the gaudy old labels with its overemphasis on gold and its thick black strokes around every letter. The new labels are almost too Modern, you know?
But the 330ml bottle is where it’s at. The glass detail is lovely to both look at and to hold, and the neck label is well thought out. Usually, this kind of detailed glass bottle is the preserve of more expensive or exclusive beers, so it’s nice to see SAB introduce something like this with one of their more popular products. It’s turned out to be a popular design, too: the new bottles have already sold out at Montclare Pick ‘n Pay, save for three six-packs, one of which I managed to pick up.
“And the cans?”, I hear you ask. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have failed you here: I couldn’t find any new cans. In any case, you really shouldn’t be drinking beer out the can unless a) you are camping or b) it is your absolute last resort. (Those two options are equatable in my opinion.)
The tagline for the bottle rebrand: “Special, Inside and Out.” It’s a bit twee, but hey. Perhaps they’ll do something similar with the Marzen Gold brand?
I DOUBT IT BECAUSE MARZEN GOLD IS NOT A
GOOD PARTICULARLY MARKETABLE OR POPULAR BEER.
Ahem. Well, dear reader, do you like the Hansa Pilsener repackaging? Let me know by clicking right here.