There are many reasons to be thankful that Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania.
- The people are lovely there, of course.
- There’s lots more to do after you’ve finished your Kilimanjaro trek, such as heading off on safari to the Serengeti or Ngorongoro, or simply kick back and build sandcastles on Zanzibar.
- It’s also one of the more peaceful parts of the region, at least when one compares it to its neighbours Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Uganda, Mozambique and Kenya – all of which have suffered some sort of civil strife to a greater or lesser extent over the past few decades.
But there is one more reason which, though often overlooked, is more valuable than all of the above for most trekkers – at least at that point when they finish their climb. I am talking, of course, about their beer.
Tanzania has a fantastic brewing industry and many a decent beer emanates from the country that would put other, more established beer-producing nations to shame.
What beer is best for Kilimanjaro?
The question is, therefore, what beer is best to celebrate a successful assault on Africa’s highest mountain? Well, if it’s an appropriately named beer that you’re after, there is of course only one answer… Kilimanjaro Lager – it is the bestselling beer in the country.
The only problem is, while I love the label, and have a Kilimanjaro beer tray in my home (where it’s one of my prized possessions). I have to say I find the stuff itself a little, well, tasteless. True, it’s fizzy, cold and alcoholic; which, after seven days on the mountain, is probably all you want from your first pint. But it is, to this writer’s taste at least, a little bland.
Thankfully, there are several rivals to the ‘Kilimanjaro Crown’. One beer that I do enjoy is Serengeti, a deeper, tastier brew, slightly stronger at 4.8%, made by Serengeti Breweries, part of the Dar-based East African breweries. It’s delicious and, once again, the label on the bottle is a treat, a leopard with its back to the drinker on a black background, with a leopard-print frame. Reviewers on one beer website talk continuously about the “grassy flavour of Serengeti” – as if they were drinking the plains themselves. But I have to say this author’s palette isn’t sensitive enough to discern this.
However, even this pales into comparison with Ndovu Beer, my favourite Tanzanian brew, made with crystal malt and just delicious. The name, incidentally, means elephant, hence the picture of a tusker on the label (though I don’t think elephants appear anywhere in the ingredients).
This is not the end of the story, however, for while Ndovu might be the best flavour, can it really be considered the most appropriate beer for a post-trek party when elephants are rather rare on the mountain? The winner, therefore, of the best beer for after your Kilimanjari climb goes to Kibo Gold, another from the Tanzanian Breweries stable – and the perfect compromise between taste (because it is bloody delicious) and of course, suitability for Kili trekkers. The only problem is finding the stuff – it’s pretty hard to track down though the Indo-Italiano in Moshi had some when I was there last. Ask them to keep some in the fridge for you for when you return from your expedition.