Following my recent reviews for The Brew Club from tropical climes, we received a few comments about the influence of ambiance on the tasting process. I recall enjoying Kenyan ‘Tusker’ lager while on vacation to Kenya back in 1993, so how does it stand up on a warm summer day in England?
Sadly, George Hurst was killed the following year by a rogue elephant during a hunting exhibition. Large male elephants are often known as ‘tuskers’ and the Kenya Breweries lager (first brewed in 1929) was named in memory of George’s demise.
The company now has breweries in Ruraka and Mombasa, and owns breweries in Uganda and Tanzania. While they remain independent, SAB Miller has a strategic stake.
The company’s brews Guinness for local consumption, ‘Senator’ a lager brewed from un-malted barley and ‘Tusker Malt’ a premium lager brewed with 100% malted barley. All the barley used in the company’s brews is grown in the great Rift Valley, so it’s organic, I can’t see Kenyan farmers being able to afford pollutants.
Tusker is by far the biggest selling beer in Kenya with around 30% of the market.
So, it pours nice and bright, but with a thin and insubstantial head that quickly subsides. There’s very little nose to speak of, maybe the merest hint of Saaz hops but in all honesty that could have been my imagination.
The flavour? Well I’m saddened to have to report that the overall flavour was similarly insubstantial, there’s an underlying ‘grassy’ flavour that might be attributed to the un-malted barley, but this tasted more like a 3% supermarket ‘own brand’ lager than something that purports to be a 4.2% premium lager. And we’re talking a down-market supermarket at that!
If this review offends any Tusker fans then I’m sorry, but I checked that both bottles were well within their ‘best before’ date, I tried one chilled (allowing it to warm) and one at cool room temperature. Nothing… I even resorted to asking my wife to taste this and her view that it wasn’t worth the effort of shipping it from Kenya to England.
Ultimately I was disappointed by Tusker, maybe I should try convincing the missus that we need to go back to Kenya to check!