Africa's wildest beers
* Editor’s note: All beers featured have been chosen on merit, with no influence from the brands mentioned. AG does not accept paid posts, sponsored stories or advertising.
What better way to celebrate a successful safari than to crack open a cold one at the end of a long hot day, take that first refreshing sip and stare at the majesty of Africa around you? For almost as long as there have been people, they have been brewing beer. Across cultures and continents, the bacchanalian discovery of the delicious and intoxicating product of fermented cereals became ingrained in everyday life.
Like the rest of the world, Africa has a long-standing and merry history of brewing beer – both commercially and traditionally. Preparing (and consuming) indigenous beers is still a part of life, especially in rural areas and during customary celebrations. For many tribes, the rituals involved vary depending on specific events and require different vessels and formalities for each. Umqombothi, chibuku, changa’aa, khadi, hydromel… Africa is awash with distinctive traditional brews – some of which are more meal than drink!
While beer enthusiasts may protest in horror, the truth is that the basic beer recipe is not a complex one: some malted barley here, a handful of hops there, plenty of water and enough yeast to get the party started. However, brewers in Africa rely upon sorghum and maize and flavour the product with everything from fruits and flowers to roots and honey. These local techniques have been gradually incorporated in commercial, craft and boutique brewing practices to create flavours unique to each country.
Have a look at our list of unusual favourites below to guide your decision.
1. ‘Delta Lager’ from the Okavango Craft Brewery, Botswana
The Okavango Craft Brewery sources their millet from the small-scale farmers around the Okavango Delta – at premium prices. In partnership with the local NGO Ecoexist, the aim is to reward local communities for their efforts to coexist with elephants and stimulate local economies while producing the perfect quality beer to toast your safari in the Delta. Be sure to order one when on your next adventure in this iconic, pristine wetland system.
2. Wild Dog Shempa Ale from Tiemann Beer, Zambia
From the vats of Zambia’s first craft beer producers, the Wild Dog range from Tiemann Beer has taken the country by storm. Zambia is famous for its walking safaris, and the light, flavourful ale is the perfect end-of-day beverage to gulp down while soaking tired feet in the Luangwa River. When next you head to the vast Zambian wilderness playground in search of an authentic, unfussy safari experience on foot, be sure to order a Shempa Ale.
3. Irish Red from Namib Dunes Craft Brewery, Namibia
Beer is to desert as oxpecker is to buffalo: the perfect pair. Beer brewing is a source of national pride in Namibia, and in keeping with this proud tradition, Namib Dunes Craft Brewery has produced some of the best beers for watching the sun go down over the red dunes of the Namib Desert.
4. Twiga Blonde Ale from Twiga Brewery, Tanzania
Operating from the green slopes of Mount Meru in Arusha, Twiga Brewery is a small, independent operation offering hand-crafted beverages of the highest international standard and craftsmanship. As the wildebeest and zebra gallop across the savannah during the Great Migration, take a moment to celebrate a day of extraordinary sightings while sipping on the Twiga Blonde Ale.
5. Temstout from The Big Five Breweries, Kenya
From one of the top breweries in Kenya, The Big Five Breweries, this full-bodied beer carries a hint of dark chocolate and, of course, a strong coffee flavour from a country that produced some of the best coffee in the world. Whether heading to the magical Maasai Mara, or to spot tuskers in Tsavo or Amboseli National Parks be sure to keep an eye out for this beer on the menu.
6. Hero Original from Devil’s Peak Beer Company, South Africa
Devil’s Peak Beer Company’s Hero Original presents the ideal solution for those who want to enjoy the crisp taste of a beer from one of South Africa’s premier craft breweries, minus the alcohol. Whether saluting the day surrounded by the magnificent vistas of Cape Town or lounging away in the heat of a South African bushveld afternoon, you can refresh with the non-alcoholic Hero range.
So, what should your order be? Well, for a start, forgo the more commercial brands and take a chance on something more distinctively African.
Want to sample these tasty beers on safari? To find lodges, search for our ready-made packages or get in touch with our travel team to arrange your safari, scroll down to after this story.
Sip on your favourite African beer at the bery best sundowner spots.
Is beer o’clock the best time of the day? Have a look at our guide to the highs and lows of the safari day.
Did we miss something? Tell us about your safari beer of choice by commenting below.
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