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Beers of Southern Africa

Southern Africa's Popular Brews, Brands and Beer Facts


Phoenix Beer, Mauritius - Beers of Southern Africa

Phoenix Beer, Mauritius - Beers of Southern Africa

A list of popular beers brewed in Southern Africa follows below, sorted per country. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Southern Africa and breweries can be found in every country. In general, African beers need to be enjoyed on site, very few southern African beers win international awards for their taste. A typical review, in this case Lesotho's Maluti premium Lager, reads like this: "Weak gold colour with an aroma of cow dung and dust. Tastes like a watery lager, because it IS a watery lager". But sit in a bar in Maseru after a hard day of travel and I bet you will think Maluti is one of the best beers you've ever tasted. Spent a day on safari? Nothing goes down better than a cold Zambezi or a refreshing Windhoek lager.

The beer we're discussing here is the bottled variety, not the indigenous beer made in many villages out of sorghum, maize, plantain, palm nuts, or local barley. One you can try when traveling in this area is Chibuku. It's made from maize and/or sorghum and comes in a colorful red, white and blue carton. It's sour, porridge-like consistency is enjoyed by many who often cannot afford the bottled brews listed below.

Locally Brewed African Beers Per Country - Southern Africa

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. Given Angola's Portuguese heritage, you can get some good imported beer like Super Bock.

Botswana -- It's a hot and dry in Botswana, so no big surprise that the local brew is very 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 and produced 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 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, and 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, brewed by the giant SABMiller Brewery (that has gobbled up a majority share in almost every local brewery in sub-Saharan Africa). Castle comes in a variety of flavors: a Lite and a Milk Stout. Carling Black Label ('Black Label") rivals Castle in popularity, it's been around since the 1960's and has a slightly higher alcohol content and more taste than Castle. It's heavily marketed as a "real man's beer". Hansa Pilsener is one of South Africa's oldest popular beer brands, they recently launched Hansa Marzen Gold a tasty, malty beer.

South Africa has many micro-breweries that produce some of South Africa's better tasting beers. They include Robson's East Coast Ale, handcrafted by Shongweni Brewery. Shongweni also makes a pale ale, and a wheat beer. Birkenhead brews a fine lager from its micro-brewery. The Nottingham Road Brewing company produces very tasty brews with great names, try their Pye-eyed Possum Pilsner or Pickled Pig Porter. Hops Hollow Old Bull Ale is naturally delicious, and if you are in the Pretoria area, try the Berghof brewed by Drayman's Brewery. For a comprehensive list of micro-breweries in South Africa, click here.

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). All of these beers are brewed under the Delta Corp banner.

If I have left out your favorite brew, please let me know!

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