Looking for a local beer with flavour whilst in Kenya? Look no further than Tusker. It’s more than just a beer – it’s a national emblem. It’s more than a drink – it’s an African experience encompassed.
First brewed in Kenya under British Colonial rule in 1922 by Kenya Breweries (now East African Breweries), the company’s first lager was baptised ‘Tusker’ at the brewers’ first annual general meeting in 1923 in memory of their founder, Charles Hurst, who had not long before been killed in an elephant hunting accident.
Quintessentially Kenyan, Tusker has become a household name throughout the East African community and beyond. One of the beer’s traditional slogans ‘Nchi yangu, Bia yangu’ (Swahili for ‘My Country, My Beer’) stands testimony to the roots of this iconic brew and the fond place that it holds in the hearts of our community, as well as to the staggering market share that Tusker commands in the region.
‘Our’ lager boasts a clear, golden yellow body with a foamy white head, and a nose with hints of cereal and honey. The light grain flavours with a mild, underlying sweetness give way to a hoppy bitterness at the finish. Whilst many East Africans enjoy Tusker at room temperature (or even above!), we highly recommend you ask for it ‘baridi sana’ (Swahili for ‘very cold’) to ensure you experience the beer’s unforgettably light and refreshing characteristics, perfect for a warm day in the equatorial sun. In fact, it was on safaris in Africa that the concept of a ‘sundowner’ became so renowned. A trip to the region would simply not be complete without watching the sun go down to a cold Tusker (or two!).
More recently, Tusker has become available under two other guises – Tusker Malt and Tusker Lite – but our recommendation is that for a true Kenyan experience, stick to the original. The classic, oversized brown bottle is an equally memorable part of the experience, with its strikingly minimalist branding in bold colours lending it an ‘old world’ feel that has secured Tusker a place amongst the ranks of East Africa’s superbrands.
Although available in many Western countries now, there’s no better place to enjoy Tusker than in Kenya. Try it at The Alchemist, a trendy bar with an outdoor lounge and regular DJ sets in the heart of Nairobi. Or if you’re looking for a more historic setting to enjoy your beer, book a table at the Lord Delamere Terrace at the Fairmount which has been serving hungry diners since 1904. Better yet, try one with Urban Adventures as you discover Nairobi By Night with a local guide by your side. As well as Tusker, you’ll try some tangawizi, the local version of ginger beer and taste some classic Kenyan dishes such as nyama choma, which is barbequed meat such as beef or chicken – or you can even be a bit more adventurous and try one of Kenya’s ultimate delicacies, mbuzi, which is goat. There will also be a selection of traditional Swahili dishes as well as Kenyan accompaniments such as ugali, a dough-like side dish, and kachumbari, a delicious tomato, onion, and coriander relish that’s popular with the locals.
In the words of a more recent Tusker advertising campaign that yet again powerfully evokes the kindred spirit of Kenya’s flagship brew, ‘Ni Wakati Wetu’ (Swahili for ‘It’s Our Time’). We hope that during your time in Kenya, you’ll take the time to enjoy a refreshing Tusker in the Green City in the Sun.