Saturday, February 11, 2017

More African Beer Labels

Proving that I really can take this blog just about anywhere, I thought I'd share with you the rest of my West African beer label collection. As I revealed in the last post, these are souvenirs of my trip through West Africa in autumn 1994. None of them top the Mamba label for excitement, but they're cool in their own right.

First, Castel beer, which we drank in Mali. I believe it's available in other West African countries, too. I think a lot of these beer brands were licensed by various local brewers from one country to another.

So. B. Bra was a beer from Burkina Faso. Although it touts itself as "Bière de Qualité," in my journal I proclaimed it "really nasty."

Another Burkinabe beer. I don't remember anything about this one.

Flag is another common multinational brand -- in fact, we had Flag beer in Morocco, though with a different label. This one was from Burkina Faso and must be brewed by the same company as the one above -- they share the same yin/yang trademark.

I bought Star beer in northern Ghana, but I think -- based on what I've only now seen online -- it may be a Nigerian brand. I remember being amused by the little expiration dates at the bottom of the labels. Does beer really ever expire?

I think Gulder is Nigerian, too, though I got it in Kumasi, Ghana. From my journal entry of Oct. 15: "Then we went drinking – stopped at a bar and had Gulder beer, and then another – by the middle of the second one we were toasted. These 66 cl beers are not to be believed."

(Many African beers come in big bottles. These were roughly 22 ounces, with alcohol at 5 percent.)

I got Club and Club Dark in Accra. Again, I made no mention of it in my journal, so I have no memory of whether it was any good or not.

And now, for no particular reason:

Here's a picture of my friends Pam, Kelly and Carolyn in front of the New York Cafeteria in Banfora, Burkina Faso -- a little town in the southwest corner of the country, near the border with Cote d'Ivoire. I just thought it was funny that we were in such a remote location -- and back in those pre-Internet days, it felt really remote -- yet we found traces of the Big Apple!


  1. To answer your slightly esoteric question, "Does beer ever really expire?" The answer is no but those who drink it do.

    I am so envious that you visited Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana and The Ivory Coast. Wonderful, evocative places from page 23 of the atlas I pored over as a child though back then Burkina Faso was Upper Volta.

  2. It's amazing that you've kept all of these. I'm sure that each one brings back tangible memories.

  3. I'm surprised so many of them are in English.

  4. Beer does not last a year. I found that out in the Arctic. Beer was feighted in in July or August. By March it was undrinkable.

  5. That is quite a collection. Now I don't feel so odd about saving the little metal caps on the tops of the corks in champagne bottles.

    I think that purple flower is called Hardenbergia violacea.

  6. I love the New York Cafeteria. I'd guess there's one of those anywhere one goes in this big world. I loved sampling the different beers on our visit to Europe back in 1985. I seem to remember a very dark one with a tall head called, I think, Franciscan we tried in Belgium. But I think my favorite was the warm bitters we drank in your very own London, Steve.

  7. Beer will go "skunky" - but you have to not drink it for it to do so! We've had it turn before.

    It must have seemed odd to see the New York Cafeteria sign!

  8. You can't go past the New York Cafeteria for atmosphere. And the bystanders in the background figuring out what is going on at the cafeteria.