Mbege Ale | Sprecher Brewing Company

42 Ratings
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Mbege AleMbege Ale

Brewed by:
Sprecher Brewing Company
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Fruit / Vegetable Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Popular in Eastern Africa, especially the Northern regions of Tanzania, Mbege-style beers are brewed from bananas. Mbege Ale is unfiltered.

Added by shbobdb on 12-30-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 42 |  Reviews: 39
Photo of Halcyondays
4.2/5  rDev +75.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ, gluten free too apparently along with being brewed with bananas, I have always wanted to try this, it seems like an interesting idea,

A: Pours a murky cloudy orange, definitely unfiltered, an authentic rustic look.

S: Banana puree, assorted citrus fruit.

T: Definitely has a banana flavour, but it's different than the banana esters one finds in a hefeweizen. Tropical fruit salad, mandarin orange is cleary evident, perhaps a bit of kiwi, definitely a fruit flavour, but it's hard to pin down. Very tasty and unique.

M: The carbonation is light and prickly, almost a soda feel, though it still has a good body. Definitely has an acidity, a citric acid acidity as opposed to a lactic acidity from a lambic.

D: For the anthropological aspect alone I wanted to try this beer, even though the previous ratings weren't very good. This was fresh out of the tap, and think that really helped it to be what it was supposed to be. I found it to be a quite interesting experiment and a tasty beverage. You're not going to get a beer in the traditional sense, the guy who was sitting next to me likened it to a cocktail and I think that describes it pretty well. If it's available a must try in my opinion.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.67/5  rDev +53.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Sprecher Mbege Ale, Fire-brewed, African-style.
Label adorned with colorful parrots and bananas.
Ale brewed with banana extract.
16 ounce bottle, 5.2% abv.

Thoroughly clouded, and peach-y colored, with a slim, but sure, white layer of foam.

Flowery aroma, then sweet, then the banana takes over...slice of lemon on the side, maybe, but banana is all over this, and it's an even, balanced, appealing aromatic, at that.

In the taste, banana, banana, banana....and little else. . Light bodied, slightly malty, with a light, faintly fruity finish. No hops here, but that would be correct to style, I'd think.

Maybe this brings me closer to tasting a true African banana beer, but I'd still like to think I can make that trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro and try some of the real stuff.

Worth the $2 I paid for the bottle. Yeah, I thnk so, it's unique enough, the novelty is worth it just to try and say you did.

Share one or two with friends while listening to Yvonne Chaka Chaka's song "Umqombothi (African Beer)", available on iTunes, still the only song I know of sung from the perspective of a brewer.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.43/5  rDev +43.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First off, I would like to thank Jon (Halcyondays) for encouraging me to try this beer. Had this at Beachwood BBQ. Well, on to the beer:

It looks like a darker hefeweizen...sandy blonde yet cloudy and unfiltered. the head doesn't last long on top of this one. The aroma is spicy and minty (akin to the oddball spice found in Icy Hoy), and taste...well it is completely different kind of beer that I have ever had. It kind of hints bananas, and it has that phenolic plasticy feel to it, but it reminds me of a first-aid kit in an odd, yet pleasing way. Band aids and first-aid cream, sort of spicy, and moderately peppery. Good medium mouthfeel, with a peppery feel. Drinks fairly well.

This is the most interesting beer I have had since....well, since I had DaDo's yerba mate beer when I was in Brazil last week. Get it fresh on-tap, open up your palate to a new adventure, and enjoy the ride.

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Photo of kmpitz2
3.22/5  rDev +34.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

16 oz bottle. This one is made with no barley or wheat. It pours a modest golden color with a small ring of head over top. The clarity is fairly good and there are a few bubbles apparent in the column of beer. The aroma is interesting. The banana is definitely in there, but there is a lemon sharpness, almost sourness, along with a light bready quality from the grains employed. The aroma is soft, and the grains complement the sweetness from the banana. The flavor is moderately phenolic and kissed with sourness. The grain is sweet but not caramel and they meld into the banana very nicely. The phenolic character is a bit dominant. The banana clings well into the finish. It is interesting. The grain used really adds an edge of unrefinement in there and a husk character I have not come across before. The more of this that I have, the more I think there is a bit of a solventy character from the alcohol as well that is accentuating the phenolic qualities. Mouthfeel is moderate with a prevalent slickness along with a very mild carbonation. I think the drinkability on this one is a little low, as the phenolic and banana characters are a little too much in hte flavor to let me enjoy this as much as I might.

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Photo of boudreaux
3.08/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Light copper, with a half finger head of rapidly dissipating fizz

S: Alcohol, sweet bananas, citrusy crisp; a tinge of overripe/sourness in the the flavors

T: Mostly citrus, melon, some banana; kinda overly-sweet pungent fruitiness; alcohol present; Belgian sour with a citrus, melon, fruity, sweet flavor profile, lightness on the palate and nice acid balance

M: to oily to be good; a touch of creamy warmness from alcohol, but the rest of the drink is just trying to get it over with

D: Sour and not too much fun to drink more than once

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Photo of uwmgdman
3.05/5  rDev +27.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a slightly hazy golden with a thin white head-little or no lacing. The aroma is high on banana, not the banana you’d get from a freshly peeled banana, but a banana candy I remember eating as a kid, I think they were Runts--little fruit shaped pseudo-hard candies. There is also a small clove note in the aroma. The taste is quite sweet and has the Runts Banana flavor like in the aroma. The swallow is rather crisp, slightly dry and tart that combined with moderate-high carbonation gives the impression of a slightly higher bitterness than is probably in the beer. There is also a very small clove flavor in the finish. The finish of the beer is cleaner than expected, but the Banana Runts flavor still lingers. Mouthfeel is not bad as the carbonation dances around a little, medium-light body.

Overall I don’t know what to think. I would not buy this again since I don’t want my beer to remind me of Runts. However, if you had a style of banana beers, I would say this one makes sense. The finish of the beer was well done, minus the linger of banana, but again that is personal preference, it says banana on the bottle so I guess I should have expected it. Worth a try if you want to taste something very different, if you’re expecting this to fit into an accepted style you’ll be disappointed.

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Photo of dalepryor
3/5  rDev +25.5%

Photo of emerge077
2.98/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Split a pint bottle, into mini FFF imperial pints.

Poured a hazy orange tone, with a good finger of foam. The surface was fairly dense with a few bigger bubbles. Head thinned out after a few minutes.

Smell was slightly medicinal, and sweet with artificial banana candy. Reminded me of the fruit-flavored vitamins from my youth.

Taste was medicinal too, reminded me of a sweet mixed drink made with redbull. I wasn't able to pick out the sorghum and millet that were listed as ingredients. Aftertaste was clean, unlike other "gluten-free" beers i've tried. It had ample carbonation, which thankfully carried it quickly down the hatch. Sweetness wasn't completely cloying, but a full pint could present more of a challenge.

Although this isn't a traditional ale, it was interesting to try, and i'll be looking for the companion Shakparo on my next trip to WI.

Note: Wheat and Barley-free, NOT GLUTEN-FREE. This did not go over well with a friend that has Celiac's...

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Photo of Pauly2X
2.91/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A- Yellow with a dark turbid center, virtually no head.

S- Fresh bananas with hints of alcohol.

T- Quite tart, the banana comes through in the flavor accompanied by some light alcohol notes. Finishes clean.

M- Smooth decent carbonation.

D- I probalbly won't get this again.

Props to Sprecher for going extreme in a unique way. Altough this is a well crafted beer, its just not for me. If you are a fan of extreme beer give this a try, otherwise I'd recomend taking a pass.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
2.85/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

16oz bottle directly from the brewery.

A-Hazy rusty peach color with minimal head and carbonation.

S-This smells like sweettarts and red bull. Banana aroma is definately present, but a sugary dominance overtakes it. Definitely not like any other beer I have had before.

T-The taste contains the same sweetness as the nose produces. I truly think it tastes like a wheat beer mixed with red bull. It is not horrible, but I don't quite know how to take it.

M-A chalky, grainy mouthfeel with an odd malternative finish.

D-This is in a class of its own so it is hard to say. I definitely would not drink more of this, but I can imagine that others may enjoy it. It seems a bit too full-bodied to be considered a "girl-friendly" beer, but you never know.

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Photo of Drew966
2.85/5  rDev +19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Mbege Ale pours a hazy golden brown with an off white head from a brown sixteen ounce bottle. The aroma is very banana like. The label says its brewed with sorghum, millet and banana juice. I taste some banana, some other grain that I can't really identify, but really the flavor is a disaster. Very estery up front, sweet banana flavors toward the back. Not well balanced, not especially enjoyable. The label also says no wheat and no barley were used in brewing.

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Photo of Floydster
2.82/5  rDev +18%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Sampled at Beachwood BBQ a few days ago, had to try this beer after hearing the guys talk about it for weeks now, like nothing I have had before, certainly the first African banana gluten-free beer I have heard of, color is

taste reminds me more of a thick cider, too hard to describe at times, Gabe mentioned that people had been blending this and a chocolate porter and that would actually make this more enjoyable, by itself it is unique to say the least but it comes up short on being a good beer,

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Photo of orangemoustache
2.74/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a hazy tangerine orange with a small thin white head that dissipates rapidly leaving a paper thin covering,but no lace. The nose is full of fruit apple,banana,pineapple and pear. I was warned about this one a while back and told it was pretty bad,I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh this tasted after sitting in my cellar for at least seven months,I'm sure the slightly above average ABV of 7% helped. This tastes like sour over ripened banana and sugary yellow gumballs. It is a bit salty and not all that drinkable either,but I have had way worse.

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Photo of Mora2000
2.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Big thanks to blutt59 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a yelllow color with a white head. The aroma is heavy on the bananas with some bread and apples mixed in. The flavor is worse than the aroma. I get some banana as well as some vinegar notes/ Not real appetizing. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Not a good beer.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
2.69/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine April 2007.

American craft brewer goes African. Very original to say the least. Mbege is an African alcoholic beverage that's brewed using finger millet and ripe bananas. Sprecher's version uses real bananas.

Orange hazed brew is nearly cloudy. Fizzy at pour and fizzy from the head, which drops down to a minimal ring around the glass. Smells of banana taffy, cooked cereal grain and bubble gum. Crisp and slick all over, with a medium body. Banana bubble gum flavor throughout becomes tiring after a while. Cinnamon and nutmeg? Coarse grain and a mild astringency in the middle. Mineral, raw sugar cane and kosher salt come to mind, present but very faint. Spark of clove flavor towards the finish. Finishes semi-dry with a banana taffy and bubble gum flavor.

Interesting is probably the best way to describe this beer; others will love it or hate it. Share it with a few friends--16 ounces are a chore to finish, but at least it's a good conversation piece. Regardless, you have to hand it to Sprecher for their creativity and passion.

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Photo of antilogic
2.62/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Had this very unique beer on tap at Beachwood BBQ tonight. Good call Kyle for grabbing that keg!

First of all...very interesting. Glad I tried it. The story, of a beer brewed in the spirit of west Africa where they don't have barley (but millet and bananas) is really neat. The beer itself has an aroma of banana and other fruits. The beer is thicker body than I expected, with a taste that is barely banana, and quite unique, I can't place very well. By the end of my several ounce taster, I don't really want any more, but I am still glad I tried it. I'd rather see unique, interesting beers, with a good story, than the same old, same old...My friend placed it as more of a banana liquor...

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Photo of Slynger
2.58/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

I don't know why I have all of these experimental fruit beers lying around, but I sure hope this one is good, that it is the last because I am getting quite sick of them.

Appearance is a cloudy bright orange with a light banana colored hue. A lacking white head of foam leaves little lacing.

The aroma is quite tropical and un-beer-like. Scratch and sniff banana's and pineapples with a hint of vanill (I may be imagining) and some peeking alcohol.

Taste is lightly bitter sweet at first, but mostly an overwhelming tartness which includes banana and sour peaches. That's really about it. Medium bodied with a mouthfeel that is somewhat slick, but undercarbonated.

This was interesting, but not good. I am glad it is retired.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.58/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a pale, burnished gold body a fizzy, white head.

Smell: Strong scent of Laffy Taffy. 'Nuff said!

Taste: Sweetish pale maltiness, but it's a taste far and away made up of a Banana Laffy Taffy. A drop of citrus juice near the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: No, no thanks. When I want a banana beer (and I assuredly do not), I'll turn to Well's Banana Bread Beer.

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Photo of dirtylou
2.53/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

purchased as part of a mixed 6 pack...interesting enough and not entirely sure what "fire-brewed" entails

appearance: pours into an imperial pint glass...body is a couldy golden orange hue with some moderate beige froth. looks innocent enough

smell: holy bananas...aroma is somewhat artificial, banana toffee, candied aromas...hmm

taste: banana runts (my least favourite of this lovely childhood candy), marshmallow, deep banana extract. Its a damn good thing i love bananas or i would throw this against the wall - its that overpowering. Interesting little experiment but i have no clue if this resembles any sort of authenticity. if it does, then i'm glad i tried it. if it does not, then this beer sucks!

mouthfeel: very sweet, liquid banana

drinkability: yikes, i'll find a way. its not That bad

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
2.53/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

A-Pours a hazy amber w/lots of carbonation within, supporting excellent retention of off-white, creamy head.

S-Like banana bread w/sweet undertones.

T-Unpleasant shock w/rough medicinal and plastic phenols, bitter attack, banana emerging midway and carrying through offering a moment of salvation, and finishing w/slightly bitter and astringent finish.

M-Good carbonation but slightly astringent and light-bodied w/lack of balance.

D-Interesting, and I was able to finish it pleasantly w/chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, but I really don't care for it, and find the phenols overpowering.

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Photo of mynie
2.48/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bought this at the brewery a few days ago. Don't know how old it is but I'm guessing since it was a one-off and the last review was from late May this might have been getting on a bit. Still, it's got a high enough ABV to hold up to some aging. Or, at least it should. Hypothetically. There's really no way of me being able to say anything worthwhile about this beer, seeing as I know nothing of the style and have never tried it before. I go no standards against which I can judge it. This is pure gut reaction, more or less.

Pours very thick looking, like some kind of health drink. Maybe a smoothie, maybe some hand-squeezed juice. Dark fruitbrown with shades of yellow and a big head that dies away fairly quickly. On the one hand it's kind of pretty but on the other hand it's kind of scary looking.

Smells very intense. Strong alcoholic yeast is predominate but there are also some very big nodes of fruit. Not really picking up any of the banana nodes the label promised me (and when the tourguide at the brewery described it I for some reason kept picturing it as a very bananay hefe, even though the point of this beer is that there's no wheat or barely in it). The intensity is almost offputting; honestly I can't believe this only supposed to be 7%. But still I can't fully say that I dislike it. I guess I'm just weird like that.

Tastes much more tame than it smells. The burn of yeast is strong upfront but it only lasts a second and it shoots quickly into some really refreshing nodes of straight up fruit juice, sweet bananas and pears. The end is spicy and yeasty like a Belgian Dubble.

All this sounds nice, and it should be nice. But for some reason the beer just doesn't work for me. I have no idea why--there's no off nodes or anything. It just does not work.

A sipper for sure, but drinkable.

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Photo of weeare138
2.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to hopdog for the trade...

Appears a glowing, golden orange with a burnt copper hue when held to the light. The transparent color shows a plentiful abundance of co2 bubbles quickly rising to the top of the small white cap. Tiny speckles of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of leathery, cracked grains, wild berries, apple juice, and banana chips.bi
Taste is...hmmm. A bit hard to explain this one but I'd say if you've ever had those apple & banana fruit juice blends, it's similar to those, only it would turn some away like it would be past it's prime.
Mouthfeel is sugary, syrupy, and sweet. Wow...if this one isn't cloyingly sweet like apple pie with extra sugar, I'm not sure what to call it.
Well, I wouldn't call this one a complete loss but it would be a dessert beer for me, and little more. Try pairing this one with apple struedel and vanilla ice cream. I would also serve this one in either a champagne flute, or a cordial glass. It's a sipper, much like a champagne, or riesling. No big gulps allowed due to the high sugar content.

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Photo of kaufmaal
2.44/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle from 2011, picked up a bottle on the discount table for a buck. Lots of carbonation, deep amber color. The taste is a weird one. Sorghum, honey, sour grapes, apricots, and cherries. Cheap rum smell and slight taste. A bit too sweet. A good looking beer, but looks only go so far.

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Photo of shbobdb
2.41/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

So . . . a 'fire-brewed african style mbege ale' eh? Sounds exciting!

Well, it isn't really. First off, like the generational porter, they used extract rather than fresh fruit and it shows. The banana flavouring tastes sorta like a yellow popsicle. Very artificial, very fake feel. This is the single factor that dominates both the nose and taste of the beer. Fake banana. There is also a strange, slightly bitter finish that doesn't mesh well with the rest of the drinking experience.

There is a good tasting beer underneath, it would seem. A nice round mouthfeel with a good amount of fizz to help it go down. It isn't a bad drinker, it is really just a sort of aborted soda. A bastard child between the worlds of beer and alcopop.

If I wanted to get a bunch of children drunk in the back of my ice-cream truck, this wouldn't be a bad beer to choose. If I wanted to drink, you know, a beer . . . then this really isn't a great option. When entering this beer I put down "limited release, brewed once". This is not merely my understanding, it is also my hope.

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Photo of sauron681
2.21/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Pours a peachy-tannish color with light head and very minimal, slippery lacing. Good carbonation throughout session.
Tropical fruit salad aroma, very banana-y. Also another type of fruit couldnt quite figure out. A hint of taffy aroma as well.
Starts out slightly bitter, with sweetnesss going down, and finishes very dry. A creamy light body to go with the style.
I am glad I tried this beer, but I dont feel I will try it again. It is literally for the monkeys.

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Mbege Ale from Sprecher Brewing Company
2.39 out of 5 based on 42 ratings.
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