What is the definition of cheap? In my opinion it’s Ethiopian beer. But when I talk of cheap, I do not mean that the quality is low. NO! Hell NO! Surprisingly enough, most of the beers that I had in Ethiopia were of such high quality I even asked myself, what’s the big fuss about Tusker? But then again I realized that, it’s all about branding and it probably is EABL’s flagship product.
But I have to say that the prices of most commodities and especially beers are highly exaggerated in Kenya. I remember once going to Friendship Supermarket in Bole to purchase a few beers during the Ethiopian new year on September 11th in 2016 and the price of a beer was a shocking $0.6. If you don’t have empties you may have to part with some money but it’s refundable when returned. Unlike in Kenya where you have to part with more than double of that same amount, a whooping $1.6 for the same.
So now straight to the beers that i think you should try out and also depending on what kind of taste buds you have.
# 1 St. George
One of the most popular beers in Ethiopia with quite a presence even in towns outside Addis Ababa is none other than St. George. It is a very light beer so if you’re looking for a good pass time beer then look no further.
The beer is named after St. George who was born into a noble Christian family and legend has it that he was responsible for slaying the dragon which was used to represent the devil in the middle ages. The bottle’s branding clearly shows him slaying the dragon.
Just to confirm its popularity in Ethiopia you can check out this world beer map from Vine Pair and confirm how popular it is in Ethiopia. It also has a relatively good rating on beeradvocate.com
FYI – When asking for a St.George, you would rather say Giorgis which it is highly referred to.
# 2 Habesha
What I really love about the Habesha beer is that it has this pride associated with it that I believe Ethiopians carry with them of it being originally Ethiopian. From its branding alone, it shows the picture of a typical Ethiopian boy with an afro, big eyes, chocolate skin color just like a pure non-mixed Ethiopian boy. I remember during my 2nd visit to Ethiopia via road we stopped at a town called Yabelo together with two Ugandan nationals who were making the same journey and began from Kampala-Nairobi and we met in Moyale. There was this gentleman who served us at the restaurant that we were in and looking back I think Habesha beer should start paying him royalties for using his image which was a complete replica of the image on the bottle. Habesha is a stronger beer but very enjoyable. They have this slogan ‘cold gold’ which will give you that desired effect on your first sip. It will probably get you ‘feeling high much faster than most of the other beers.
# 3 Amber
For the gentlemen or ladies that still have a sweet tooth then this beer is definitely for you. I think it’s one of the few beers that one doesn’t need to have an acquired taste before enjoying it. Last time I checked, it was the Ethiopian beer that I came across with the highest alcohol content. It was actually decreased from its previous high as it was extremely strong for the faint hearted.
# 4 Meta
I recently became a fan of sugarless beer and for that reason I switched from drinking Guinness to now drinking White Cup or Summit Lager depending on which one is available when at home in Kenya. In May while having dinner at Roomi burger, one of my best burger joints in Addis Ababa, I ordered for a Habesha but it was unfortunately out of stock so my friend recommended Meta for me and I instantaneously fell in love with it. Later on in that week I took my girlfriend out for dinner at New York Cafe at Kirkos in Addis Ababa. I ordered for a Meta and she was surprised, ‘When did you start loving Meta?’ I told her that I had tried it 2 days before and it was my new birra.
Do I miss Ethiopian beer? Yes I do. Not that I am an addict or anything, I don’t even enjoy getting excessively drunk. 3 beers are more than enough for me in one sitting. But what I also miss is the beer culture in Addis Ababa where you can go into an open air establishment like my all time favorite – The Brick House and have a draft and just catch up with friends without the price injuring your pocket. I let my friend know that I could buy him beers in Addis Ababa but not in Nairobi because beers are so overpriced especially in so-called up market clubs and lounges going up for as high as $7. But anyway, I am just complaining because I am not yet a Billionaire even though I was a BIRRionaire while in Ethiopia.
Have you been to Ethiopia and feel like there are better beers than my top 4? Any recommendations for places to hang out in Addis Ababa? Please share below…