Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews


Sprecher Brewing Co.
Glendale, WI

Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5.2%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Sprecher’s Mbege is a specialty brew based on mbege ale, a beer native to northern and eastern Africa. Traditionally it is brewed with bananas, millet (a small, round grain that puts up with heat and drought moreso than barley, making it an ideal grain for some parts of Africa) and quinine, a bittering and flavoring agent (in other words, a rough and not very efficient substitute for hops) extracted from the bark of quinine trees that is more commonly used to make tonic water. Other than the bananas, the folks at Sprecher haven’t let on how authentic the rest of their Mbege ingredients are. And since my parents won’t lend me the money to have a chemist analyze the beer’s makeup, the only thing I can do is pop the top and sample this funky brew.

The beer slides out of the bottle a cloudy dark yellow—yep, it’s unfiltered. A medium, fizzy head dissolves quickly into a thin, extremely fine beaded topping of white. OK, the brewers claim this beer is brewed with fresh bananas, so you’d assume there’d be some scent of bananas in the nose. This ain’t just a scent, folks. This is a lock-up-your-monkeys, balls-out, head-rush banana torrent. You know how most people describe a good Bavarian-style hefe as “bananas and cloves”? Start thinking up a new description. Because those beers ain’t got nothing on the Mbege, banana-wise, at least.

So, yes: BANANAS!. That’s what the nose is, with a blunted aroma of mint in the background. The taste is similar but less so. Just bananas. Mixed with a generic taste of berries, with a touch of sugary sweetness. Something reminiscent of a banana-and-berry cream soda. The end’s got a tiny bit of tinniness, but nothing overly unpleasant. Body-wise this is a light, light beer, with a very sharp, crisp mouthfeel. I could see drinking this during a hot, muggy Midwestern afternoon. Just make sure you like the long, yellow, peeling-kind fruit, because I was belchin’ bananas for the rest of the night.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on April 11, 2007.
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