LivingTravelYour Guide to South Africa's National Beer Brands

Your Guide to South Africa's National Beer Brands

There are many things that make a country unique: its flag, its national anthem, its stamps… and its most popular beers. Each South African nation has its own trademark beers, and you’ll find them in liquor stores, upscale bars, and township shebeens. There’s nothing like a cold Windhoek Lager after a long day cruising the dusty roads of Namibia, or an icy Castle Lager overlooking a Kruger sunset. In this article, we take a look at the best national beer brands to consider on your next trip to South Africa.



Angola’s national beer is Cuca, a brand made and sold in the country since the mid-20th century. It is manufactured by Companhia União de Cervejas de Angola, a company with a 90% monopoly on the Angolan beer industry. Cuca is a pale beer with an ABV of 4.5%, and while it scores low in international flavor reviews, it is undeniably refreshing after a day of baking in the Angolan heat.


The weather in Botswana is typically hot and dry, so it comes as no surprise that the country’s National Lager, St. Louis, is light and cool with an ABV of 3.5%. You can also order a stronger and more flavorful version, St. Louis Export. All varieties of beer are made by Kgalagadi Breweries, a company located in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.


Lesotho’s trademark is Maluti Premium Lager, an American-style pale lager made by Maluti Mountain Brewery in the capital, Maseru. With an ABV of 4.8%, it receives mixed reviews, with some praising the biggest for their distinctive malt flavor and others saying their palate is “thin and lifeless.” Take it with views of Lesotho’s stunning mountains though, and you’ll have few complaints.


The national beer in Madagascar is Three Horses Beer (also fondly known as THB). A Pilsner brewery brewed by the Brasseries Star brewery in Antananarivo, it has a light and refreshing taste despite a higher ABV of 5.4%. It is pale gold in color with distinct hints of apple, making it a favorite for those with a sweet tooth. For a lower alcohol content, try Three Horses Fresh or Three Horses Lite.


Brewing giant Carlsberg settled in Malawi in the late 1960s, and today the most popular Malawian beers are produced by Carlsberg Malawi Brewery in Blantyre. These are Carlsberg Green and Carlsberg Brown, named for the color of their labels. The former is a pale lager with an ABV of 4.7%, while the latter is an amber or Vienna beer with a higher ABV and a much darker color.


The national beer of Mauritius is Phoenix, a pale lager with a light straw color and an ABV of 5%. It has been made by Phoenix Beverages Group in Pont-Fer and is made with naturally filtered water from underground sources. Other varieties include the stronger Phoenix Special Brew and Phoenix Fresh Lemon, a citrus-flavored Radler-style beer perfect for sunny days at the beach.


Mozambique’s most iconic beer brand is 2M (pronounced doish-em ). Cervejas De Moçambique, a national company owned by the African brewing giant SABMiller, is a pale beer with an ABV of 4.5%. The same company also produces Laurentina, another popular beer available in Pale Lager, Premium Lager, and Dunkel (or dark German beer) styles.


Without a doubt, the most popular beer in Namibia is Windhoek Lager, a pale beer made by Namibia Breweries and named after the country’s capital. It has an ABV of 4% and a clear, crisp flavor. Variations include Windhoek Draft and Windhoek Lite (with an ABV of just 2.4%). Namibian breweries also produce Tafel Lager, an alternative beer with origins in the coastal city of Swakopmund.

South Africa

Brewed by SABMiller, Castle Lager is the largest beer brand in South Africa. It is a pale ale brewed with South African hops to create a strong flavor and an ABV of 5%. Castle has several different variations, including Castle Lite and Castle Milk Stout. There are several other iconic beer brands in South Africa, including Hansa and Carling Black Label.


Swaziland’s national beer is Sibebe Premium Lager, brewed in the city of Matsapha by Swaziland Brewers. The beer, which has a GVA of 4.8%, is named after Sibebe Rock, a granite mountain famous for being the second largest monolith in the world. The sister drink Sibebe Special Lager has the same ABV but is distinguished by its amber notes and malt flavor.


Mosi Lager is the most popular national beer in Zambia. Produced in Lusaka by Zambian Breweries (also owned by SABMiller), it is a pale beer with 4% ABV. It is one of the highest-rated commercial beers in southern Africa, with critics praising its toasted caramel aroma and dry, crisp taste. The beer is named after Victoria Falls, known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders).


Zimbabwe is home to the refreshing Zambezi Lager, its beer of choice for sunset cruises on the mighty river of the same name. Brewed by Delta Breweries in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, this pale beer has an ABV of 4.7%, a light straw color, and a hint of spiciness. Zambezi Lite offers a lower alcohol content of 2.8% ABV.

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