THE LABEL COLLECTION
Labels from the rest of the world
Castle Beer was a medium yellow color with an off-white head. It had a malty smell and tasted like a malty cereal mixed with some vegetative hops. Overall it was a mild beer with very little bitterness. There was no alcohol content listed.
Because Islam technically forbids the drinking of alcoholic beverages, it was a bit difficult to find a wide range of beers in Morocco. The Vermin Brewing Research Team was finally successful in one of the more expensive tourist hotel restaurants. The label is exclusively written in French, one of the two main languages spoken all over Morocco. Under the image of a large crown is the slogan "the Queen of Beers". The beer is brewed under international license of BTM.
Old Thumper had a very different taste, almost that of strong leafy hops. The light colored beer is brewed according to the German Beer Purity law and it was low in alcohol at only 4.0%.
The Newbegin Brewery is located on the North Island of New Zealand. The humorous picture of a contented warthog has encouraged the Vermin Brewing team to search for more beers by this brewery, alas with no luck.
Tollies Lager was a 5.0% alcohol beer with a hazy dark yellow color and a white head. It was a very tasty, creamy, smooth, mild beer that went especially well with food.
The city of Stellenbosch (located in the Western Cape province) is the center of the country's famous wine producing area. It is the country's second oldest European city (established in 1679) and is also famous for its enormous old oak trees, hence the image of the squirrrel holding an acorn on the label.
Halala 30 Lager
Given the circumstances (such as being bounced around in a car in the African heat for a couple days), the medium golden colored beer faired quite well. It had plenty of good taste and aftertaste with a certain dryness. Unfortunately the total lack of refrigeration caused it to be a bit overcarbonated and not particularily smooth.
The beer was "specially brewed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Kingdom of Swaziland and the birthday of His Majesty King Mswati III". Swaziland Brewers also makes Sibebe Special Lager, in honor of the world's second largest monolith. The VB Team got a quick view of the brewery located just outside of Manzini. The large white building was dwarfed by several tall silos.
Raven Stout was a highly impressive tasting beer with an alcohol content of 5%. It was very very dark brown in color with a lovely dark beige head. The beer's taste was very similar to its appearance - smooth, thick and creamy. It had a very strong roasted flavor with plenty of hop bitterness in the aftertaste. A delicious, well-balanced beer.
Mitchell's Knysna Brewery was established in 1983 in the charming little town of Knysna, situated on a foresty stretch of the Repubilc of South Africa's picturesque coast. In 1998, it was joined with Mitchell's Waterfront Brewery (in Cape Town) and Mitchell's Brewery Gauteng (in Johannesburg) to form one company under the direction of Lex Mitchell. Mitchell's Breweries is now a wholly owned subsidary of Scottish and Newcastle plc.
Brewery tours were offered at the Knysna facility and the Vermin Brewing International Research Team was willing to risk foregoing a day of abseiling in order to try some of this locally famous beer. Not only were the tour, free beer samples, and members of the staff all absolutely exceptional, but the brewery's general manager Dave McRae spent several hours with the VB team, providing them with quality information, priceless sample labels and genuine hospitality.
Purchased in the country itself, this label was made for the locals. Since there was no importer to translate the Hebrew text, the Vermin Brewing team found it a bit difficult to read. Undoubtably the brewery is mentioned somewhere on the label. The alcohol content, however, was decipherable and was listed at 4.9%. In the international language of taste, the beer was quite good. It was a full-tasting but not heavy, medium amber-colored lager.
The label states that Guru is a Special Premium Lager Beer. The dark amber-colored beer had relatively no head but that was probably not the beer's fault. The several bottles did seem suspiciously old; one was even undrinkable. The taste was mostly sweet with little other flavors. Alcoholic strength was listed as below 5%.
While there are far more beautiful Indian beer labels, this label ranks quite highly in the VB team's "rare label collection". According to the label, this beer is only sold in Uttar Pradesh (one of India's northernmost provinces that borders Nepal), thereby making it difficult to find even in India.
Listed as both a Premium Lager Beer and an X-tra Strong Beer, Golden Tiger gets its name from the many Bengal tigers that still roam free in the national parks of Nepal. The beer itself, however, was not as special as the label. It had a fine basic appearance with a medium yellow color and a white head. The taste was typical for a lager beer but was so mild that it was otherwise hard to describe. There was no alcohol information contained in the English part of the text; perhaps it is listed in the Nepalese script below which unfortunately the Vermin Brewing team was unable to decipher.
The beer was brewed under the technical supervision of San Miguel Brewing International Ltd., and the VB team actually drove past the San Miguel - Mt. Everest Brewery, located about 20 km outside of Chitwan National Park. Since the team was viewing the brewery from a local bus window, they were unable to actually visit the brightly painted yellow and pink building. Perhaps next time.