Ethiopia is famous for many things, but one thing it doesn’t get enough credit for is its beer. And Ethiopians love a beer. Or five.
Nothing says they’ve finished a day of work like sitting on some plastic chairs around a plastic table with a beer in their left hand while they eat their Injera with their right hand. To give you an introduction to a small number of their amazing brews, here are five beers you need to try when you’re in Ethiopia.
St George’s is by far the most famous beer in Ethiopia and its advertising can be seen literally everywhere. Likewise it can be purchased literally everywhere in the country. For a pale larger it sure does pack a lot of flavour, with a slightly florally sweetness combined with just the right balance of hoppy bitterness. You’ll never want to go back to your European mass produced lagers again.
Africans love dark beers, and while Guinness can be purchased in most places, Hakim gives it a run for its money. Less heavy than an Irish stout, Kaim has wonderful coffee and roasted malt undertones. The coffee mixed with a caramel sweetness makes this the perfect drink to sit on for a while. No need to down this one quickly, it’s more of a sipping beer.
Habesha Cold Gold
What more is there to say. The name says it all; it’s cold gold. This is a smooth lager that goes down a treat after a day in the hot sun. The label even changes colour when the beer it no longer at appropriate serving temperature!
Walia is on the sweeter side of Ethiopian beers with tones of fruits and honey. It’s very light and golden in colour and retains its head much better than some of its competitors. What’s great about Walia is they also do large 750ml bottles for those times when you’re extra thirsty.
Meta is essentially the only beer in Ethiopia done in a more pilsner style. It’s much drier and crisper than the others on offer. It will definitely leave your mouth on the dry side and if it’s served too cold it can lose a bit of its flavour, so make sure to take it out of the fridge a few minutes before you intend on drinking it. It also has a slight smokiness to it.
Don’t bother with….
Dashen tastes like some dirty water that has been used to wash fruit and vegetables in it. The only comparison I could make when trying this beer is the brown water we used to drink from the Murray River when I was a child. It’s very watery and only to be drunk when absolutely necessary.