We like history at Stuff. In a general sense, as well as in a few specific cases. There are several reasons for this. The first is that we like to know where we’ve been so that we can see how far we’re going to go. The second is that we love having a basis of comparison. Is this iPhone better than the last iPhone? (Trick question – It’s always better. At least a little. So far). Plus, we like to be able to avoid the mistakes of the past – always very important. Nobody wants to see another Zune.
The point is: To appreciate what we have today, we need to look back at what has taken place in the past. And it’s for that reason that we’re harking back into Castle Lite’s history, to see what came before the Smart Ice Core.
1 – The 19th Century
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Castle Lager is an integral part of the country’s history as a whole. And if you’re looking at Castle Lite, the founding of Castle in 1895 (121 years? Really?) is the real starting point. Without the old brewery and the subsequent new old brewery further inland, Castle Lite would never had shown up some 99 years later.
Image: The Old Castle Brewery
2 – Castle Lite is born
Castle Lite as a brand and a beer appeared on the South African market in 1994, a bare year away from the brewery’s centenary. Fewer calories, a slightly lower alcohol percentage, those things seemed less important then than they do now – hence the ribbing early adopters saw themselves catching from their mates. Not that a bit of fun-poking could slow down Castle’s newest brand.
3 – The glass is always greener
Hey, do you remember what colour the Castle Lite bottle was before 2000? We can’t remember either, there don’t seem to be many photo records and we’re not about to go hunting through old camera negatives for evidence. But in 2000 Castle Lite was relaunched into, more or less, the form that we see it in today. The silver and green branding, the green bottle (which looks so much like Amstel used to), it was all another stepping stone from the original packaging (again, which no-one seems to recall at all) to the beer powerhouse it is today.
4 – Unleash the thermochromic temperature indicator (also: draught)
Sounds a bit like a doomsday weapon or a particularly nasty species of cyberpunk monster, doesn’t it? Let’s take a little jump here, a lot closer to the present day. To 2009 to be precise, and the rise of the thermochromic temperature indicator. Which is what you’ll find on the labels of Castle Lite to the present day. This heat-reactive material changes colour depending on the temperature, with the company’s bright blue Castle logo indicating that your Castle Lite is as cold as it’s going to (safely) get. It’s changed some over the years, getting more prominent and having a 2-Stage indicator created but it’s still an easy visual cue that you’re drinking a beer that is acceptably cold. Shortly after giving the world a temperature-sensing label, Castle Lite also released a draught version of their low-cal beer. In 2010, just in case you didn’t know.
5 – We suck at pick-up limes
2014 saw Castle Lite do something a lot more unusual than attempting to innovate how the beer is made or how you interact with it. Instead the company launched a lime-flavoured edition called Castle Lite Lime. It’s the same beer, as near as our organic chemical analysis appendages (Tongues. They’re called tongues – Ed.) can make out, just with added lime. It’s not our thing but some people intentionally add lime to their beer. We have a word for people like that, but we can’t seem to recall what it is right at this moment.
6 – The Ice Core (and its subsequent ensmartening)
2014 also saw the launch of the Ice Core, a 12-pack of Castle Lite beers which can be loaded with ice and then moved around with ease. The point? To keep your beer as cold as possible. And given that we’re sitting here in 2016 and the company have just dropped an updated version of their thermal-resistant portable cooler – with a temperature sensor built into it – it seems to have been a success.
Why the Smart Ice Core? Because getting a thermometer in a cooler, especially one like this, is basically unheard of right now. And because these temperature-sensing units are not for sale and there are only 149 of them available in South Africa (more on that on Friday). You can win one of ten of the remaining Smart Ice Cores, if you act fast.