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Guest Blog – Kelly’s Top 5

So I’ve been invited to write about my favourite beers I found on our journey from Nairobi to Cape Town and now on to Mozambique.  It’s been fun helping Greg with his “research” and sampling the local offerings.  Beer is something that like most foods and drink is an acquired taste.  And what tastes amazing to some will be vile to others.  So my choices might not be the same as Greg’s, but they are the ones I enjoyed the most.

I still remember finding Moonberg in Lake Bunyonyi in Uganda.  I was instantly drawn to it because of the unusual name (most beers in Africa seem to be named after landmarks) and the shiny silver label.  I’m not sure many others would put it on their top list but this one stands at number 1. It had a milder taste than many of the others on offer in Uganda and a crisp clean finish.  Just what you want after a long day hiking with Mountain Gorillas.

Next Up – Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.  Now here’s a country that liked naming their beers after landmarks (Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Uhuru, Safari etc).  Kili was my beer of choice in Tanzania, so much so that if a place was only serving Safari or Seregeti i’d get a water.  Kilimanjaro just had a cleaner fresher taste.  Particularly when served Ice cold.

Mosi, is Zamiba’s version of a nice standard lager.  Now most East African countries had gold or special or export versions of their beers.  Generally these came in smaller bottlers (340ml instead of 500 or 750ml) for about the same price as their larger cousins.  Also they tended to be the better of the two (Nile gold far surpassed Nile), the only place this didn’t ring true was Zambia.  Mosi, I first had on the night of my birthday after a long drive and border crossing from Malawi.  It was cold, flavourful and refreshing.  Mosi gold was often the only beer available in supermarkets in Zambia and it just didn’t taste as good as Mosi.

After 5.5 years in the UK I got pretty used to beer coming in pint format.  The entire way down from Nairobi towards Cape Town, we only had bottled beer.  Occasionally you’d see a beer tap at a bar only to find it was a relic of the past.  Bottled beer is great, don’t get me wrong, but sometime you crave the different taste you get from draught beer.  Well to my delight, Jack Black a Cape Town Lager was on tap all over the city.  From ice cold pints with a gourmet burger to happy hour deals at bars and restaurants, Jack Black was my new best friend.

Finally, the last in the top five goes to Manica in Mozambique.  I am not sure what about it I like better than its rival 2M, maybe it goes back to our first night in Tofo and they were the only beers  that were ice cold, but they are now my beer of choice here on the beach, particularly when you find them in 550ml ice cold bottles.

So as I sit here in my hammock, ice cold Manica in hand, on top of the dunes overlooking Tofo beach, I reflect on the beers of Africa, the impressive variety and creativity in naming, labelling and even bottling.  The amount of effort each nation put in to their local brews far outstrips what many developed countries do.  Their advertising campaigns might not be the 20 Million USD Superbowl ads for Budweiser, but there’s something simpler and more authentic about seeing logos painted on concrete huts or pubs along the road sides and stacks of plastic crates outside them.   Thank you Africa, for your wonderful hospitality, ice cold beers and friendly barmen.  Cheers!