Connect to share and comment
New brewery is major industrial advance for southern Sudan.
Last year the brewery won a $1 million grant from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) that will be supplemented by a $2 million investment from SABMiller to develop local production of cassava on a commercial scale. That locally-grown grain will be replace imported cereal ingredients for the locally brewed beer.
"This project will convert what is currently a subsistence crop into a cash crop, creating valuable and sustainable economic opportunities in a fragile region where, after years of fighting, the land has been depleted and is unsuitable for many crops,” said Mark Bowman, managing director of SABMiller Africa.
For now everything but the water is imported. When GlobalPost visited the brewery sacks of malted barley from Europe were stacked in the storeroom and the granulated sugar had been brought in from South Africa.
Neither ingredient can be found locally so the materials are shipped to Mombasa in neighboring Kenya then brought to Sudan on trucks. But, as Alsworth-Elvey insisted, “The major raw material in beer is water and that comes from the Nile River.”
Three brands of varying degrees of strength are brewed in Juba and being locally produced means they are a little cheaper, which makes them popular. The favourite is Nile Special, a beer brewed under license according to a Ugandan recipe with an alcohol content of 5.6 percent while Chairman’s ESB (standing for Extra Strong Beer) is the strongest at 7 percent, but the real innovation is White Bull, a light 4.2 percent lager brewed especially for southern Sudanese drinkers.
The choice of a white bull as the beer’s emblem was a smart one. The slaughter of prized white bulls, their heads bowed beneath heavy curving brown horns, marks auspicious occasions, and herds of the beasts can be found in pastoralist areas across the country.
“White Bull has taken off pretty well,” said Alsworth-Elvey. “The unique thing is that White Bull is ‘their’ beer, it has been very well accepted as a beer and carries with it some sort of national pride.”