African beer is just not that common in your local Uncle Dan’s (well unless we are considering the CUB beers to now be African) or for that matter your Slowbeers/Prince Wine Store/Blackheart and Sparrows of the world. So it is a continent which has sadly been under represented in this blog. But we are (slightly) going to change that today by tasting not one but two Ethiopian beers.
I live in North Melbourne which has a growing African population, and better still we are starting to see the first African businesses opening. And although I have no interest in getting hair extensions, I do have an interest in eating African food (mainly because this is the way that the white middle class experience other cultures).
That is how I came to be sitting in a restaurant called Little Africa in Victoria Street (it’s directly across the road from three shops that I think sum up the evolution of North Melbourne perfectly, a rumoured mafia hang-out/Italian restaurant , a gun shop, and an electric bike specialist, something for everyone in that mix).
Anyway back to Little Africa. They specialise in Ethiopian and Eritrean food. Yes it is delicious, and yes it has all the awesomeness of eating with your hands. You get served this giant platter of pancake like bread and then you shovel the meat onto it, add some vegetables, wrap it up and then quickly toss it in your mouth (hoping you don’t spill any). Added bonus for the restaurant owners, no cutlery to wash.
But more important than this, for this blog anyway, they have a range of African beers and we had the chance to try two of them. They were both pretty standard pale lagers and nothing to really write home about, but then again the novelty factor was there.
First up was Castel, which is a beer that is light in body, though with a little more body than your typical American or Aussie lager. It was very lightly carbonated, which made it drink more like an ale than a lager. It markets itself as the Queen of Beers, which must mean it’s married to Budweiser (The king). I think you’ll find however that beer is just like chess and the queen is more powerful than the king. Schooner.
Next up was St George, I think the example I had may have seen better days (I imagine getting beer from Ethiopia to North Melbourne isn’t the easiest thing in the world). It had almost no carbonation and was thinner than the Castel, only just passable – Pot.
I assure you I will be going back for more food, plus there are another three beers on the menu to get through, including a stout. Exciting times ahead.
Long Bow You Tube Clip: Although the decor in the restaurant was a little sparse, the smells were amazing. And there was African music a playin’. This song certainly got a spin. It’s Manu Dibango & Mc Mell’o with Senga Abele. And no I don’t understand the weird video.