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Beers of Africa

African Beers


Zambezi Lager - Beers of Southern Africa

Zambezi Lager - Beers of Southern Africa

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African beers have not exactly found a worldwide export market but almost every country boasts a brewery and a favorite local beer. I'm not talking about traditional African beer here, the type that is brewed in villages and made from sorghum, bananas, local barley and cassava. This list of African beers is about the brew that comes in a bottle, that you can chill and enjoy after a long day of travel (or work).

There are huge breweries in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and even the Sudan. Despite a relatively low consumption per capita compared to other continents, the brewing industry in Africa is booming, especially in nations where income is on the rise. Few African beers win awards, here's a typical review of an African lager by beer enthusiasts, this one concerns Lesotho's Maluti premium Lager - "Weak gold colour with an aroma of cow dung and dust. Tastes like a watery lager, because it IS a watery lager. The taste of Lesotho!" And another ... "Pale gold with a frothy white head. Farts, card, cereal and corn. Lovely".

So, maybe you don't go to Africa for the beers, but once you're there I promise these beers taste mighty good, especially if you can find a cold one.

. I've split Africa into regions and listed the most common beers brewed and sold (to my best knowledge) in those regions. Please e-mail me if I've left out your favorite local brew.

East Africa

Kenya - Home of Tusker beer, available throughout the region, a refreshing lager with a great looking logo. Tusker also comes in a "Malt" variety. The brand name for "Tusker" came about shortly after the founder of Kenya Breweries Ltd, George Hurst, was killed by an elephant during a hunting accident.

Other local lagers include the popular Pilsner, White Cap named after the snow capped Mount Kenya, the rather unfortunately named Allsopps and of course the affordable Senator launched when President Barak Obama became a Senator in 2004. All these beers are now brewed by East African Breweries, headquartered in Nairobi.

Rwanda - with its Belgian past, it's no wonder that the local brew packs a punch. Primus is a very enjoyable lager, and comes in one of the largest beer bottles I've ever seen in Africa (72cl). Mützig is another popular local lager and very palatable. Rwanda also boasts a new local brown beer called Turbo King.

Uganda - Eagle is the most popular beer brand in Uganda. There's a regular lager, and a stronger Eagle Extra. Bell Lager is Uganda's oldest beer, brewed locally since 1950. Club Pilsner originates in Uganda, as does Chairman's Extra Strong Beer (7 % no less) is brewed in Uganda but mostly drunk in neighboring Sudan and the DRC (guess they could use a stronger brew). Nile Special and Nile Gold are the flagship beers of the Nile brewery, based in Jinja, on the banks of the Nile River in Uganda.

Tanzania - Beer is taken seriously here, it is responsible for a huge amount of tax revenue and the brand names reflect a nationalist zeal, or a tourist brochure. Popular brands of refreshing lagers include -- Safari, Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and Ndovu. Want to order a beer in Tanzania? Say “Naomba Kili baridi.”. Less popular but other widely available locally brewed beers include: Balimi Extra Lager, a powerful brew.

Southern Africa

Breweries are found in every southern African country, many of them owned by SABMiller. Lots of choice of lagers and some micro-brews in southern Africa. There is also a very popular local brew called Chibuku. It's made from maize and/or sorghum and sold in red and white-striped cartons. It's sour, porridge-like consistency is enjoyed by many who often cannot afford the bottled brews listed below.

Angola's national lager is Nova Cuca brewed by Companhia União de Cervejas de Angola. The popular N'GOLA is a relative newcomer, a premium lager that gets great reviews from those in country. Eka is brewed locally but not as popular.

Botswana -- It's a hot and dry in Botswana, so no big surprise that the local brew is light and crisp. St Louis Lager is Botswana' national beer, it comes in an alcohol free and a premium special variety, all brewed by Kgalagadi Breweries in Gaborone.

Madagascar -- Three Horses Beer (THB) is a Pilsner and Madagascar's national beer, brewed by Star Breweries. It comes in variety of bottle sizes as well as a can. They produce a regular pilsner and a lighter version called THB Fresh.

Lesotho - Maluti Premium Lager is the locally brewed lager in this little mountainous country.

Malawi - Carlsberg (the Danish brewery) set up shop here in the late 1960's because the Danes that were in Malawi at the time, hated the brews they were served and decided to take a stand! Calsberg in Malawi produces a variety of lagers and a stout. Commonly known by their label color, I personally always liked "Brown" (Ale), but "Green" (lager) is the most popular. You can also order the "Black" (stout), "Elephant" (strong lager), and at some point in time there was "Gold" which later changed to Special Brew. In 2003, Carlsberg launched a local brew called Kuche Kuche.

Mauritius - Phoenix, a lager, is the most popular locally brewed beer in Mauritius. It comes in a variety of sizes as well as a light version called "Fresh". Guinness is also produced locally as well as a stronger beer called Blue Marlin.

Mozambique - Mozambique has three breweries (now all owned by SABMiller) that produce a variety of beers, the two most popular are Laurentina Clara and 2M, both lagers. Raiz is a third lager that is less popular. Laurentina has found a small export market for all three of its beers, the Clara, Preta and Premium. Other popular beers brewed here include Manica, Raiz,

Namibia - With its German heritage and dry landscapes you can expect some tasty brews in Namibia. The most popular local lagers are Windhoek Lager and Tafel Lager. Windhoek lager is exported throughout the region, and also comes in "Light", "Special" and a "Draught" version. It's one of the tastiest lagers in Africa, in my opinion. Maybe because it's brewed according to the German Purity Law of 1516. If you happen to be in a bar in Namibia, also try the Hansa Draught.

South Africa - consumes the most beer on the continent. Castle Lager is the most popular, and the local brewery joined forces with Miller, and produces a range of beers. Castle also produces a Lite and a Milk Stout. Hansa Pilsener is one of South Africa's oldest popular beer brands, they recently launched Hansa Marzen Gold a tasty, malty beer. Lion Lager is a light lager that doesn't get a lot of good reviews.

Swaziland - Sibebe is this tiny country's national beer, a refreshing lager, named after Sibebe Rock a massive slab of rock, second only to Ayres rock in Australia.

Zambia - Mosi Lager is Zambia's most popular local lager, followed by the slightly more bitter Rhino Lager. There is a micro-brewery, the Zikomo Brewing Company in Lusaka that sells Dr. Livingstone's Lager, Zikomo Copper Ale, Safari Stout and Baobab White, which is brewed with the fruit from the baobab tree.

Zimbabwe - home of the refreshing Zambezi Lager, the beer of choice for booze cruising down the Zambezi at sunset. Other popular Zimbabwean bottled beer includes Zambezi Light, Bohlingers Lager, and Golden Pilsner (of Czech origin).

Beers of West Africa

Cape Verde - Cool off from the beach with a refreshing Coral, the little palm tree on the label will put you in the holiday mood.

Cameroon's popular beers include the regional favorite Castel and also 33 (trois-trois).

Ghana - Club Premium Lager is one of Ghana's most popular lagers, they also make a Shandy that's half fizzy lemon, half beer. Star Lager is also popular and a bit lighter tasting, a half liter bottle goes down easily in the heat of the day. Gulder is a stronger tasting brew, labeled as an "extra mature lager", another stronger tasting lager is Stone, "built to satisfy and reward". ABC Golden Lager is brewed in Kumasi.

Nigeria - with Africa's highest population, Nigeria has a strong domestic market and several breweries dotted around that brew under license. Popular beers include locally brewed i>Star Lager, Gulder, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Harp and Heineken. Home grown Nigerian brews include the popular One Lager Beer, and Lion Stout brewed by Mopa Breweries. Legend Real Stout is another popular local brew leveraging the popular stout market.

Senegal - One of my favorite label design from local lager - Biere La Gazelle.

Togo - BB Pils is a popular lager brewed in Togo.

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