South African craft beer review: Darling Brew – Rogue Pony

South Africa’s micro-breweries have endured the hardships of the lockdown alongside its regular patrons, but you can now once again enjoy the fine range of craft beers available in our country.

The beauty of micro-brewers is that the flavours in their beverages are very often rooted in the area from which they come.

South African craft beer review

There are plenty of craft beers to choose from should you choose to pop down to your local liquor store and you can also buy directly from some breweries.

Before we dive into the experience that was Darling Brew’s Rogue Pony it needs to be made clear that this article is not sponsored and I bought the beer with my own money.

Another disclaimer is that I am not a sommelier, cicerone or any other kind of professional beer taster. I am an enthusiastic amateur.

Darling Brew Rogue Pony

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South African craft beer review: Darling Brew Rogue Pony. Photo: James Richardson

Darling Brewery were my first choice to kick off this review series for a couple of reasons. Firstly they are geographically quite close to where I live, secondly, they strive to be Africa’s first carbon-neutral brewery.

“It’s not about doing what we like with our operations and just offsetting our impact,” says Kevin Wood, owner and founder of Darling Brew, “It’s about our commitment to continuously reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible whilst using the offsetting process as a way of further redressing our impact.”

After months of poor substitutes, I broke my beer duck with a pale ale called Rogue Pony.

At the first sip of the zebra-inspired brew I was struck by how smooth it was when I had been prepared to be overwhelmed by flavour.

Far from bland, the ale is subtle on the palate but has enough body to leave you wanting more.

The hop balances out the fruity and sweet aromas of this pale ale which I found enjoyable as my first brew enjoyed after the lifting of the alcohol ban.

This pale ale will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it made for pleasant drinking. It is possible that I might be viewing the ale through rose-tinted glasses after a long break, but it ticked plenty of boxes for me. 

It achieves a middle-ground of flavour that gives the impression of balance while avoiding outright blandness.

I would recommend Rogue Pony as it is advertised: “A not too edgy ale with a mid palate body and balanced to perfection.” If that sort of thing doesn’t appeal to you it is unlikely the ale will either.

Darling Brew Rogue Pony is available in selected liquor stores, from the Brewery itself in the Western Cape town of Darling and online for delivery.

Warning: Alcohol abuse is dangerous to your health

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