What is the Most Popular Beer in South Africa?

Beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage in South Africa, accounting for 56 percent of the alcohol consumed in the country. Consumption of wine and spirits ranks second with consumption of 18 percent each, while other categories account for the remaining 8 percent of alcohol consumption. The most popular and valuable brand is Carling Black Label, which is the most awarded beer in the country with 20 prestigious international beer awards to its name. They also produce Castle, Hansa Pilsner, Castle Lager and Castle Lite dark beer.

For the younger generation, Castle Lite has become the most popular South African beer. This low-kilojoule, low-carb beer is crunchy with a slight bitterness and has a mild hoppy aroma. This week we asked our Twitter followers to tell us what their favorite beer is. A resounding 'Castle' won with more than 40% of the votes.

It is not clear if this percentage prefers Castle Lite or Castle Lager. Personally, I like a Black Label when I drink a strange beer. My colleague Gabi is a little more beer savvy and prefers CBC Amber Weiss. Castle could get the main vote, but earlier this month the best beer in Africa was crowned in the African Beer Cup.

Drifter Brewing Company, headquartered in Cape Town, was created by The Stormy Smoked Porter. An illustrative example was National Sorghum Breweries (NSB), founded in 1990, and the first new player in the beer industry in more than ten years. One of them is Shongweni Brewery, near Durban, which produces Robsons bottled beers unique to South Africa. In 2004, a new company was established in South Africa known as Brandhouse through a joint venture of Diageo, Heineken and Namibian Breweries.

In 1955, Castle Brewing purchased the Ohlsson and Chandlers Union breweries, and the group was renamed South African Breweries. Within South Africa, SAB distributes beer through its extensive network, augmented by a fleet of independent truckers (called owner drivers) comprising mainly former employees, many of whom had been helped by the group to start their own businesses. Nowadays, there are about 220 craft breweries in South Africa according to the South African Craft Brewers Association (CBASA). This allowed SAB Ltd to produce and distribute Amstel Lager in South Africa, sparking a new era of competition for the industry.

With over 200 craft breweries now operating in South Africa, there is a huge variety of good quality craft beer available in South Africa. Several international brewers such as Britain's Whitbread had tried to enter the South African beer market but until now they had failed to gain significant market share. With the exception of imported beers such as Heineken and Guinness, all major brands in the country are owned and produced by SAB. Its portfolio of beer brands meets the needs of a wide range of consumers and includes heritage-rich brands such as Castle Lager, Hansa Pilsener and Carling Black Label. This robusta beer is made with barley malted with chocolate and has a creamy foam with a moderate bitterness. It may have something to do with the warm weather but South Africans are very dedicated to drinking lager beer.

For a unique South African combination, a good pairing is ostrich steak with Jack Black Brewers Lager beer.