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Shongweni Brewery

Netsled in the Valley of a Thousand Hills visitors will find the Shongweni Brewery, which produces the Robson's range of bottle conditioned beers. Shongweni Brewery is an independent, family owned, brewery, which regularly produces a range of four beers as well as brewing a selection of seasonal fruit beers. The Brewery was specifically designed and constructed for the production of specialist beers and ales,and produces beers based on the great global styles.

The range is inspired by the traditional brewing process of various European, American, and British beers. However, the brewery is also rather proud of their locally inspired beer, East Coast Ale. This brew is a lively and refreshing golden ale. Most mass produced beers currently available in South Africa consist of filtered, pasteurised, and sterile liquids, of which many are artificially carbonated. The essence of the beer is literally removed before they reach the consumer. This is what makes the beers produced by Shongweni Brewery distinguishable. The brewery uses live yeast, which produces bottle-conditioned beer. This results in a beer that it is made in a similar way to champagne.

Bottle conditioned beer can also be stored as one does with wine, and over time, the flavours will develop producing beers of amazing complexity and taste, with a shelf life of at least a year. Robson's beers easily match the quality of the best global beers. The brewery has displayed its range of beers overseas, and gained great popularity at the Great British Beer Festival. The Shongweni Brewery was the first South African Brewery to be invited the the widely anticipated annual event, and is the only craft brewery in South Africa which exports to the European Union. Dorling Kindersley, publishers of the international Beer Book, agree that the brew is indeed exceptional, and have included Robson's Beer in one of their latest editions. The book is an extensive directory, which catalogues over two thousand varieties of beer and top breweries, and the brewery's managment see it as an honour to be included.

The Shongweni Brewery's Range consists of the following beers:

The Flagship brew is the Robson's East Coast Ale. This is a smooth, lively and refreshing golden ale which is made using a single malt variety, along with Brewers Gold and Challenger hops. Brewers Gold hops provide a balanced bitterness when combined with Challenger as a late aroma hop. This results in the beer having a crisp, fruity character and an alcohol volume of 4%.

Robson's Wheat Beer is based on some of the oldest brewing recipes from Europe. The unmalted wheat makes up almost half of the mash and Hallertau and Saaz hops are used. The Hallertau hop gives off a floral, slightly fruity character to the beer and is complimented by Saaz, which provides the beer with its aroma. They also add coriander in the copper to produce a pale, hazy, yellow beer that is naturally carbonated and slightly acidic with a perfect white head. It has an alcohol content of 5%.

The process used in the brewing of Robson's Fruit Beers, are influenced by the monastic brewers from Belgium. The brewery uses malted barley and unmalted wheat combined with Hallertau and Saaz hops. Depending on the seasonal availability one might find them producing pineapple, mango, strawberry, or raspberry beers, by using whole fruits in the brewing process. The beers vary in strength from between 3.7% and 4%.

Robson's Durban Pale Ale was inspired by the original Indian Pale Ales which were produced in Britain and then shipped to India for consumption by the soldiers and bureaucrats, travelling via the Port of Durban. The brewery wanted to revive an old tradition. A single malt is used for the Pale Ale, as well as Cascade hops which don't leave any lingering harshness on the palate. The addition of Challenger hops provides both aroma, and the crisp, fruitiness characteristic of the beer. Durban Pale Ale has been adapted to suit the South African palate, and is slightly sweeter than most IPA's but is well balanced by a rounded bitterness and is 5.7%ABV.

Robson's West Coast Ale is a Californian style beer, which was first seen at the time of the Gold Rush in the mid 1800's. The brewery uses two types of malt,as well as American hops and a special strain of yeast, resulting in a beer which combines the rich fruitiness of an ale and the thirst quenching character of a lager.

The Brewery shop is open to the public between midday and 3pm throughout the week, and on Saturday between midday and 5pm.

The Shongweni Brewery runs a tour on Saturdays at 2pm, which features tasting sessions. Tour bookings can be made at the brewery's website http://www.shongwenibrewery.com.

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