Beer Review: Rwanda

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Rwanda is not a country many people know too much about. Infamous world wide for it’s somewhat recent genocide, and famous as home to some of the last wild mountain gorillas on Earth. Most couldn’t tell you much more, but as always I had one burning question… “What kind of beer do they drink?” Armed with a fistful of Francs and a thirst, I decided to find out.

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Turbo King (6.5%) – There is so much to love about this beer. The ridiculous name, the metallic, lion emblazoned label, the Matchbox car inspired logo. And then there is the taste. Chocolate malty goodness without any bad aftertaste. It lives up to the title of ‘Dark Ale’ due to the addition of caramel. These are probably terrible for you as there is something really artificial about them… But I couldn’t get enough. Another Turbo King please!

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Primus (5.0%) – Rwanda’s ubiquitous national beer, since 1959. Almost every pub in the land is painted with Primus murals, though it seems to be the beer of the working class. Those with money are almost always drinking imports, I don’t know why. A very slightly unique tasting lager with a heavier taste than the Amstel and Heineken many prefer. Best of all, it comes in monster 720 ml size bottles! The largest I’ve seen in Africa by far. They export a lot of it to the DRC. I really like the packaging on these, very shiny, very proudly Rwandan.

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Virunga Mist (6.5%) – It took me a week of seeing this in the bar to realise it was actually a beer. Nowhere on the packaging does it have a word for beer in Kinyarwanda, English, French or any other language for that matter. By the name I assumed it was some sort of horrific girly pre-mix, but I was wrong. “From Rwanda’s Heart of the Volcanic Range” this completely drinkable dark lager took me by surprise. It’s no Turbo King, but it’s definitely not bad. There is nothing volcanic or misty about it, don’t believe the hype.

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Mützig (5.5%) – Launched as a premium alternative to Primus, this beer tastes exactly like Germany’s Becks. I don’t think I could pick the two apart if my life depended on it. It’s catchphrase is “The Taste of Success”, it should be “The Taste of Becks”. It’s apparently named after a French town along the German border, and appears to be marketed at those who find Primus too African. Pass.

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Gatanu Panaché (0.0%) – The thing that should not be. Non-alcoholic ‘beer’ with citrus flavours. I saw a girl at the hostel drinking one with a straw. What are you doing Rwanda?

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Round three from East Africa will take place at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro and across the island of Zanzibar in sunny Tanzania. Until next time, cheers!

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