I’m not going to lie. We drank A LOT of beer in Tanzania, especially on the beaches of Zanzibar. I almost feel overqualified for this review thinking back on it. The fact that we spent a couple of weeks in a beautiful, sunny, island paradise made them go down easy, and the fact they were cheap every night during the 2014 World Cup games certainly didn’t stop them flowing.
Serengeti Premium Lager (4.8%) – This was by far my go to beer on Zanzibar. It was always hot and this is a great hot weather beer. A sweet and refreshing drop which went down like water. I also quite liked the label with it’s leopard print and unimpressed cat. It’s almost like he’s disappointed in you for drinking so many beers and refuses to make eye contact with the drunk staring him down. It’s OK leopard I still love you anyway.
Safari (5.5%) – A very close second. Tanzania’s heaviest and most flavoursome common beer. This started as my favourite, but it just wasn’t as drinkable in the heat which made it drop a spot. The bottling procedure maybe has a few issues as I was served flat, stale bottles of this on 3 separate occasions, though they were understandingly replaced every time which makes me think it is common. Google translate tells me the Swahili on the front says “Full Flavour, More Unqualified Since 1977”. I agree with the first part, I don’t really see what they are trying to say with the rest.
Serengeti Platinum (4.5%) – A watery version of the standard Serengeti. Decent when ice cold, but a little too flavourless. Apparently the youth market thought Serengeti Premium wasn’t cool enough, so this variation was recently launched targeted directly at them. I barely saw this anywhere so I’m not sure if it is working. Either that or it is too new to have actually spread throughout the country yet. The leopard is a little less sad here.
Ndovu (4.8%) – Tanzania’s standard Crystal Malt beer. Not bad, not great. Nile Gold all over again. The name means Elephant in Swahili, though more commonly people use the word Tembo. The bottle is smaller than the standard 500Ml that everything else here comes in, probably the main reason it scores lower than Platinum.
Kilimanjaro (4.5%) – Laura really liked this beer because she seemed immune to it’s special powers. I had it on three occasions and desperately had to run to the toilet to piss out of my arse every single time. If you like shitting yourself this is the beer for you! It doesn’t taste bad, but I like clean pants, so I’ll steer clear of this for evermore. It’s tagline claims it “Refreshes a Tanzanian Thirst”. I’m 100% confirmed non-Tanzanian. I do like the label with both Kili and a little “Twiga” (Giraffe).
Bonus Booze: Konyagi (35.0%) – It would be hard not to drink your way through Tanzania and not mention “The Spirit of the Nation”. Konyagi is quite similar to Gin, it’s an easy drinking white spirit with a clean citrus aftertaste. It’s stupendously cheap, and Tanzanians laugh at you and think you are crazy whenever you buy it. Goes well straight out of the bottle, between beers, when stuck on the epic Dar es Salaam to Mbeya overnight train. Do try it, it’s probably the nicest spirit in Africa.
Join me next time from “The Warm Heart of Africa” AKA Malawi… I have no idea what to expect so you will be as surprised as me.