It's a damning indication of how my young brain was influenced by TV in the 80s when I can't say "South Africa" without that bloody song coming into my head. Oh well! My colleague brought a few bottles back from SA for me to try, which was nice of her, so I owe it to her to post my thoughts. Or at least I promised I would.
Hansa Marzen [sic] Gold has a little strap-line saying "The glow of slow-roasted amber malt". Sounds attractive, doesn't it? Opened it, pffft! and instantly got a smell that made my brain think skunked. Underneath that is quite a forward hop aroma, certainly resinous in a classic German sense, with a floral and yeasty character that could be nice were it not for the skunk in the room. In fact, that aroma was wafting out and reaching me from close to a metre away. Despite the thinness, the flavour starts off well enough, with a clean sweetness and minty, resinous hops, but the finish ends up tasting remarkably like cornflakes. Now, I know there's maize in it, but I really didn't expect it to taste like the breakfasts of my youth. Actually, sugar puffs were my favourite, but not sure how that'd work in a beer. Anyway, I'm not sure I hold any hope for any beer with the word Hansa on the label at this stage.
Another colleague had been raving about Windhoek Lager, even trying to find places in Germany that sold it. So it had to be good! A pale gold, it's got a fairly grainy aroma with a lump of bread thrown in for good measure. Sweet, bready and with a creamy mouthfeel, it has a gentle, almost noble hop character with a light spiciness. Finishing with slight fruity notes, reminiscent of raspberries and blackberries, it suggests good things to come, but it it ends thin and left me wanting. And after all that, Mr. Skunk might have brushed off this bottle too.
And finally, Castle Lager. See above, plus carbonic, minus skunk. Spot the difference in the bottles, kids?