MY FAVORITE AFRICAN BEERS
Updated: Sep 20
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One of the tangible benefits of travel is getting to partake in food and drinks you would not necessarily find in your home country. After traveling to 72 countries, including 22 countries in Africa, I have been lucky to taste a plethora of great international beers. My favorite locale in the world, my zen place, is Africa. Here is a celebration of five of my favorite beers from Africa.
Tusker Lager, brewed by East African Brewing Ltd., is a remarkable story when it comes to breweries as the founder George Hurst was killed in an elephant hunting accident. It is not clear exactly how he was killed, but the name Tusker was created as a memorial to Hurst and is easily the most popular beer in Kenya. The Tusker brand offers Tusker Lager, Tusker Cider, Tusker Lite, and Tusker Malt Lager, but here we are talking about the classic Tusker Lager. Tusker Lager is a 4.2% ABV pale ale, where the barley is sourced from the Masai Mara. Tusker is a light, crisp lager with slight hops and it goes great with pork.
Laurentina Preta is a beer brewed in Mozambique, which is a Monde Selection Gold Award winner in 2019. Laurentina is a 5% ABV European style dark beer, or dunkel, which pours a copper color to dark brown, with caramel flavors and a moderate head. Laurentina is the oldest beer in Mozambique, first brewed in 1932, and I believe it is the only dark lager in Mozambique (anyone correct me if I’m not up to date).
One of my favorite countries in Africa is Zambia; South Luangwa National Park is phenomenal for wildlife. One of the beers you can find at the main viewing campsite, called Croc Valley Camp, is Mosi Lager. Mosi Lager is a Zambian beer, brewed by Zambian Breweries. This beer is named after Livingstone’s famous waterfall (Zambia side) Mosi-oa-Tunya, which translates to The Smoke that Thunders. The waterfall is also known as Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe side). Mosi Lager is a pale lager at 4% ABV which pours a light yellow color. Admittedly, it may not be made with the highest quality ingredients, but it is refreshing and easy to drink after a long day of game drives, lion chasing, and photography. I do like to drink local brews when I’m traveling, even if it is a run of the mill lager. Zambian Breweries started out in 1963 as Northern Breweries Ltd., a brewery created by a partnership between South African Breweries and Labatt Brewery in Canada. Zambian Breweries is currently owned by SABMiller and brews a number of excellent beers to include Mosi, Eagle lager, Castle Lager, Carling Black Label, and Flying Fish.
Windhoek Lager is a pale lager beer brewed in Namibia, by Namibian Breweries. Namibia Breweries was founded in 1920, originally under the name South West Breweries Ltd. Brewing is predicated on the Reinheitsgebot, the German Purity Law of 1516, which coincidentally, I learned about while visiting the very old breweries of Regensburg. The Bavarian law of 1516 was originally intentioned to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye. The law stipulated that brewers could only use water, barley, and hops. Windhoek is 4% ABV, pours gold in color, and offers a slight bitter hops with a crisp finish. Windhek is a great beer in Africa and I can honestly say I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like it. For anyone interested in winter beers, try the Urbock.
Castle Lager South Africa
The fifth and final beer on this list is Castle Lager, brewed by South African Breweries (SAB). The origin of Castle Lager dates back to the gold rush in Johannesburg during 1886. SAB merged with Miller Brewing in 2002, forming SABMiller. Castle Lager is a 5% ABV pale lager which pours a golden color and tastes of malt, grain, and hops. It’s not my favorite beer on this list but probably the top South African beer. Again, I always find these lists to be so subjective, and I could just as easily finished with Safari, Serengeti, or Kilimanjaro.