This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Country #11: Ghana

Beer: Star

Brewery: Guinness Ghana Breweries, Kumasi, Ghana

ABV: 5%

Just another beer from the third world named after a celestial body. Fun fact: this photograph was taken at the exact peak of the solar eclipse this past weekend. Not that you can tell.
While my imbibational wanderings have taken me to islands off the African coast, I have yet to set foot (tongue?) on the African continent with this blogging venture. It just so happens that I have lots of friends who travel frequently to Ghana for research (and one who never came back), so it was only a matter of time before someone stuffed their luggage with genuine Ghanaian brewskis for my personal consumption.

The label and bottle were a little roughed up, not only because it had traveled thousands of miles amongst Marta's luggage, but because glass bottles in Africa are typically sterilized and reused (with a new label slapped on haphazardly) rather than smashed and recycled, as we (probably needlessly) do here in the States.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I bestow another Chad Award to my friend Marta, who brought me back a bottle of Star Beer after her recent research jaunt in Accra (where she’s doing this). Yes, I know that Star is available in various parts of the United States (such as New York and DC); but my bottle of Star was not imported so much as it was smuggled. I think that counts for something, and Marta is to be praised heavily for her heroic efforts and consideration. After all, she brought the thing at least 7,500 miles just so I could enjoy it with my steak sandwich.

I'm relieved to know that Star is "cold filtered."

So how is the stuff? Surprisingly not bad. It’s brewed with maize and barley, as are most African beers, because barley doesn’t grow well in Africa and is expensive to import (as are hops, for that matter). But that doesn’t mean it’s awful. It has a pilsner-like flavor to it, unlike some other beers from warm countries, and didn’t seem any worse for the wear after its arduous westward journey.

I think Star could have the potential to find a market niche here in the US consisting of people who want to try beers from weird places (there are more of you out there than just me!). It tastes okay, it’s made by a huge international conglomerate, facilitating production and importation, and, perhaps most importantly, it comes from the most politically and economically stable country between South Africa and Europe (and, it should be noted, it is likely to retain some level of stability, given its commitment to democracy and a greater freedom of the press than can be found in the United States). They just need to work on their marketing: Star doesn’t scream Ghana, or anywhere in particular. 

Why not name the beer Black Star?
I’m surprised the marketing gurus in charge of selling Star didn’t just call it Black Star, after the country’s flag (for which the national soccer team, The Black Stars, is also nicknamed). Perhaps it’s a national symbol, unco-optable by branding; or maybe they feared some kind of bizarre international lawsuit from these folks. At the very least they should change their slogan from “Ghana’s Favourite Beer” to “Star: You’re Ghana love it!” Amiright?

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