In Ghana, the ‘end of week’ beer meet-up, or the more used term ‘sitting’, is an old and popular tradition at workmen’s social clubs and high-end bars, as well as small pubs locally called “blue kiosks”. The website Ratebeer tagged Guinness Foreign Extra Stout as the best beer in Ghana with a score of 2.92, and Club Premium Lager tailing at number 10 with a score of 1.88. Whatever your preference, enjoying your beer of choice in the capital in the Osu district of Accra is a pleasure amid the city’s atmospheric setting.
A bottle of beer in Ghana costs about $2, while at a South African counter it could go for about $3.50 in a bar. For an average South African, that might sound like a bargain, but that might not be the case for the Ghanaian below the middle-class mark. It’s even worse for the Kampala guy who pays $1.44, because as many as 82% of Ugandans earn less than a dollar a day.
The oldest form of local craft beer which originated from the northern parts of Ghana is pito, made from carbohydrate-rich cereal crops such as millet, sorghum, or guinea corn. This drink is preferred by farmers, workers and the general public, and is either served warm or cold in calabashes tipped to the lips. Depending on the cultural background, pito can be used in fulfilling social obligations such as marriages, naming and burial ceremonies, parties, and other social gatherings.
Diverse brewing methods have been the thing in Africa for ages. Today, according to the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET), imported beer attracts a high tariff rate of 50%, to promote local produce. Primarily, hops, malted barley and yeast are the basic units that come together in Western industries – African brewers have been more experimental; making beer from maize, cassava, hibiscus, sorghum and banana.
Aside from hops, every other ingredient used in the new wave of local craft brewery is locally produced. 62-year-old Clement’s aim is that his microbrewery, Inland, which makes beer from local ingredients, will become the biggest craft beer producer in Africa. Starting in 2003, he and his colleague procured machinery and invented custom-fit pieces including a keg-refrigerator to propel their business.
Multinational beer companies like AB InBev are using local cassava to produce low-cost brews, noting that “Cassava beer can attract the lower-income consumer who can’t afford hops and malt.” Ruut Extra Premium was Ghana’s first cassava beer produced by Guinness Ghana Breweries in December 2012. In March 2013, ABL launched Eagle brand, also cassava-based.
In January 2016, World Finance outlined that international beer companies see the African continent as the “final frontier”. With sales dropping in traditional markets in the West, it’s no wonder that the world’s largest working age population looks great for brewing business.