A tasting of the most important beers in Tanzania:
Safari Lager (alc. 5,5%) – Tanzania Breweries Limited
The stout par excellence from Tanzania. This strong beer corresponds to a German export, maybe a little more dry. Available in 0.375 and 0.5 litre glass bottles. In local bars and shops, half a litre in a glass bottle costs 2,500 TSH (about 1€).
Tasting: The dark Safari beer has a strong and tart taste. Since the addition of sugar (see the article below) the bitter note is missing.
Serengeti Premium Lager (alc. 4,8%) und Serengeti Lite (alc. 4%) – Serengeti Breweries Limited
The most sold beer of the SBL brewery. Available in 0.375 and 0.5 litre glass bottles. This Tanzanian beer is the proud recipient of the Golden Award of the German Food Society (DLG). The taste of Serengeti Premium Lager reminds one of a traditional Munich medium beer.
Tasting: This beer is brewed according to the German ‘Reinheitsgebot‘ – you can taste that, a palatable and sparkling beer. Our favourite beer in Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro Premium Lager (alc. 4,5%) – Tanzania Breweries Limited
One of the most famous beers in Tanzania. Available in 0.375 and 0.5 litre glass bottles and 0.33 litre aluminium cans. The beer costs about $2 to $5 at Silver/Gold Safari lodges. The mild beer would probably be labeled as a light export lager internationally.
Tasting: The light beer with a soft malt note is a good option e.g. for lunch. The lager is a little bit on the lean side however.
Castle Lager (alc. 5,0%) und Castle Lite (alc. 4%) – Tanzania Breweries Limited
Castle Lager is a medium beer brewed under licence. It originally comes from South Africa and is widely distributed and very well known there. The beer is sold in 0.5 and 0.375 litre glass bottles and is a little bit more expensive than the other local beers.
Tasting: The beer has a balanced taste with a slightly bitter note, reminiscent of a Pilsner. Unfortunately maize is now also an ingredient in this beer.
Ndovu Special Malt (alc. 4,8%) – Tanzania Breweries Limited
Ndovu Special Malt, unlike the other beers produced by TBL, is brewed using only water, hops, malt and yeast (no maize). The beer is sold in 0.375 liter glass bottles and is the most expensive local beer in Tanzania.
Tasting: A harmonious and balanced beer taste. Colour and fullness are excellent, it can compete with the best. If no Serengeti lager is available, I would recommend Ndovu Special Malt.
Eagle Lager (alc. 5,8%), Kibo Gold (5,5%), Pilsner Lager (5,0%)
These three beers belong to a new breed of cheap beers on the Tanzanian market. The beers are marketed by the companies SBL and TBL as a cheap budget variant. The low price is achieved by adding inferior ingredients such as corn starch or sorghum.
Tasting: After a little sip I strongly advise against these three new beer brands and happily refer to Serengeti Lager or Ndovu Special Malt.
Tusker Lager (alc. 4,2%) – Tanzania Breweries Limited
This beer, originally from Kenya, is probably the most famous beer from East Africa. It is named after an elephant bull that fatally injured one of the brewery’s founding fathers in an accident. Until a few years ago, this story could still be read on every Tusker beer label.
Tasting: Unfortunately Tusker Lager did not make it to the tasting, from my memory it was a very palatable and thin beer, maybe a little lean.
Raha Banana (alc. 10%) – Banana Investments Ltd.
A local specialty from Arusha. This banana beer is brewed by a medium-sized brewery in Arusha. The beer is only sold in small 0.33 litre bottles and cannot be found in tourist accommodation. If you want to try a banana beer, it is best to ask your local safari guide.
Tasting: Unusual but surprisingly good taste, unfiltered with a deposit at the bottom of the bottle – reminiscent of German ‘Weißbier’. The high alcohol content is hardly noticeable – please consume with caution.
Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) and Serengeti Breweries Ltd (SBL) are the two largest and most important breweries in Tanzania. TBL in particular can look back on a long history by Tanzanian standards; the first beer was brewed as early as 1932. At that time TBL became part of East African Breweries Limited (EABL). In the meantime the company has been bought by SAB Miller and is traded as a public limited company on the Dar es Salaam stock exchange. To keep the price of the beers low, TBL now unfortunatly adds corn starch, sorghum and even sugar to most of its beers sold in Tanzania. SBL has only existed since 1988 and with a 15% market share is the second largest brewery in Tanzania after TBL. The company originally was founded as Associated Breweries Limited with the main brand Serengeti Lager. In 2002 the company was renamed Serengeti Breweries Limited. Serengeti Lager has been awarded several times by the German Food Society (DLG) with the Golden Award and is brewed only with water, hops, malt and yeast.
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