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 lester619
1.17/5  rDev -51%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

I don't know the last time they brewed this, it might not be a fresh example. A better question would be why was it ever brewed at any time. Pours a bright golden yellow orange with not much carbonation. The smell is absolutlely putrid. Harsh overripe rotten banana with some yeasty spice. I don't want to taste it but I guess I should. Yeah, it's awful. Rotten black mushy bananas with fruitflies buzzing around comes to mind. Some sour yeasty notes come out. There is some spice, cloves and anise I think. I don't care anymore, I just want this overwith. Why someone felt it was necessary to brew something like this is beyond me. A good rule of thumb is nothing should taste like bananas except bananas. Oh wow, not good.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
1.24/5  rDev -48.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Drank this after tasting the Shakparo. This one is like it's evil step brother. Pours a clear golden color with again not much head to speak of. Aroma is simply vile to me. Old, mushy moldy bananas and rankness. Smells like a dirty washroom. Wow, just really revolting to me.

First sip is nearly unbearable. Medicinal, plastic and just downright vile. There's a touch of banana there but it's not pleasant either. I'm sorry but I just can't find any redeeming qualities about this.

Mouthfeel is again thin and doesn't really matter as this is basically undrinkable. Down the drain ya go! Not gonna was my money on that again. Give me a Black Bavarian any day.

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Photo of Bighuge
1.3/5  rDev -45.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Onto my SECOND fire-brewed, african style brew from a LAGER brewer...

Hazy orange-amber. Very little head. Lace is minimal. This smells like some type of banana confection. Not at all like the banana aroma from a nice hefe. This is all artificial and perfume-like in nature. I'm actually NOT looking forward to tasting....

Ugh!! This is downright awful. No beer substance whatsoever. Estery and phenolic and perfumey and artificial. Hope this beer doesn't burn a hole in my plumbing after I dump it down the drain.

Love the colorful parakeet on the label though.

I've got an idea for Sprecher. How 'bout they start concentrating on brewing lagers again. I know. Novel idea. But I've actually noticed a bit of a slide with their maibock and dopplebock recently. Sprecher used to be one of my favorite lager brewers, but they're gradually losing stock with me. Fuck these fire-brewed african-style brews and get back to your roots...and Wisconsin's roots. Re-focus and concentrate your efforts there.

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Photo of backfat
1.34/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

yikes! this was weird. i love weird beer, but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. the smell is very unpleasant. like cleaning out your grandparents house and getting a face full of 1950's dust and debris. you also get very strong cloves and spices and a sort of soda-syrup banana flavour. the taste is a very strong and spicy flavour where banana's dominate throughout. hint's of band-aids. haha, that sentence made me laugh out loud. couldn't get past the first drink with this one. only a couple beers in my life have done that. don't stop being creative sprecher! i love your root beer, but leave the bananas on the tree.

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Photo of callmescraps
1.63/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

A throw-in with a store-made mix pack. I would have never even considered this beer on its' own. Now I'm curious. And a little scared.

Appearance- A deep, cloudy copper color. A white half inch of head that dissipates completely in moments. No lacing.

Smell- Weird. Banana bread. Lots of banana, some clove, spice, and a little boozy? Banana daiquiri. Odd. Not in a good way.

Taste- Not so pleasant. Plenty of banana, and a bit more hard apple cider than expected. It has that cider wang, but also a little sour and boozy. More cider than expected. A little sour on the end. It's like old apples with some banana. It's at least interesting...

Mouthfeel- Quite carbonated. Too much so.

Drinkability- This will be a challenge to finish, honestly.

I might, and I repeat might, put this in a punch or something. Otherwise it's not really fit for human consumption. I ended up having to drain pour the rest, something I almost never do.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
1.7/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

In a word, this beer is icky. It tastes like Sprecher's abbey trippel (which I do not think is very good for a trippel) slightly diluted but with the addition of a banana abstract that is wayyy more banana-ish than bananas themselves. If this is what they're drinking in Africa (and I always personally associated bananas more with S. America), than I want no part of the African beer scene. Not recommended.

Appearance was a dirty dark yellow with abundant head. Aroma was (as I'd feared) a candy-ish banana. Flavor was as I outlined above. Mouthfeel was not terrible, but was pretty watery. Not good.

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Photo of pmcadamis
1.78/5  rDev -25.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Note: I submitted a request to the Bros for a change in the style. Someone listed this as an Ameican Wheat Ale when the bottle specifically says that this is brewed without any barley or wheat.

A - Diarrhea brown/orange, like really funky well water. The small tan head lasts for only a few seconds before forming a little foamy ring around the edge of the glass. This one is really murky and funky.

S - Mashed sweet potatoes and really, really ripe bananas. This smells like mashed up brown/black bananas in a brown paper sack. It also smells a lot like mashed sweet potatoes with molasses, brown sugar, and marshmallows on top. Gerber's banana baby food comes to mind also, along with tropical flowers, dark rum, and raw cane sugar. This nose is really unique, and quite remarkable really.

T - Holy shit! This is NASTY. I'm surprised that the nose can be so great, while the flavor is like old salty, sweaty, funky, skidmark stained underwear. This tastes like rotten fruit and dead roadkill with a boatload of salt thrown in for good measure.

M - Salty sweaty brine, but somehow manages to be thick enough to remind me of vomit.

D - This is only the third beer that I've ever actually poured down the drain. The first one was Dave's Cave Creek Chili Beer, because it was painfully hot, and the second was Bud Light Chelada. This beer smells really nice and tropical, but tastes like diseased Hershy squirts. I'm glad that this beer isn't actually made in Africa, or else I would be concerned about malaria, typhoid, sleeping sickness, and all of that stuff.


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Photo of instinct2
1.8/5  rDev -24.7%

Photo of dacubz
1.84/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This beer was made to coincide with Milwaukee's African World Festival along with the Shakparo brew. I've never really had a bad beer from Sprecher's but this one is a candidate for that. Very strange brew in my opinion. Both the smell and taste are to be forgotten. Sprecher's is a quality brewer, but this beer is not quality at all.

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Photo of aforbes10
1.94/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

I drank this after i tried Shakparo, and so i had reasonably high hopes that it would be at least as interesting and maybe even good. Poured reddish orange with practically no head. Smelled EXACTLY like the banana runts candy. I am not sure that this is a good thing. No other odors that i can describe now that this is in my head. Taste is like if the Runts people make the banana ones into a soda. Sweet and candy-like. A dry alcohol taste. Much more dry and sweet than it is bitter. Not really my cup of tea. Not well balanced particularly. Struggled to finish. I appreciate the novelty, i suppose, but this one is just not very good.

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Photo of Exiled
2/5  rDev -16.3%

Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.02/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

16 oz bottle poured into a Sprecher nonic. Nutrition facts, ingredients, 7.0%, 10064 (Julian date Mar. 4th 2010).

I was surprised to see cases of this at Sprecher's gift shop. I had it once years ago and remembered it being pretty terrible. Lets give the long-lost Sprecher a try...

A - Totally clear with a few bubbles floating up to a thin, off-white head. Low retention and bits of lace are some-what made-up for by the beautiful golden hued light amber.

S - Oy. Yeah, this might be just as gross as I remember it being. The aroma has this disgusting rotting mulch pile/vegetal thing. A hint of banana lingers behind. A swirl momentarily got rid of the grossness but it quickly returned. Just a bad funk I'm hard-pressed to describe and a faint alcohol hint to the finish.

T - This light tart thing is almost mouth-puckering and helps off-set the rank mulch-like vegetal flavor. The banana juice also helps with this but it doesn't redeem the beer at all. Lingering sweetness to the finish.

M - Smooth and round but pretty syrupy with all the sweetness. Medium-bodied with a tart finish and an unpleasant aftertaste.

D - The nose is an indescribable gross thing I can't fully put my finger on. It's also definitely as gross as I remember. Not a fan and not surprising it wasn't brewed for years. I'm sure it can't sell well at all. Not fully undrinkable but it's close.

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Photo of aasher
2.12/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

I had to pick one of these up because I thought some of the reviews for this were pretty entertaining. I also love bananas so wanted to try this unique style. Let's see how this goes. It pours a muddied copper in color with a one finger off white head that dissipated very quickly. It smells of a banana snow cone and dust. Aside from the assault of banana flavoring (almost cotton candy esque), it has this odd musty aroma which is pretty strange. Dunkelweizen banana is one thing, fake banana aromas are another. It's like they didn't try. The flavors are that of banana syrup and sugary malt. It reminds me of an IPA that's about two years past it's prime, with artificial flavoring added. It's strange but reminds me of the Strawberry wheat that Sprecher made about three years ago. It tastes ok, but is just ok. It's that soda syrup. It's cloyingly sweet and hard to drink. I ended up pouring out the last half of my glass. I highly doubt African Mbege style beers are this "fake". I'd really want to try an authentic representation.

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Photo of tpd975
2.13/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

No idea why I punished myself with this beer. I knew what I was getting going in.

A: Pours a nice golden hue with no head or lace.

S: Horrid aroama. This one is a mixture of fresh banana, paint thinner, and card board. To be honest it is worse than that, but I can't describe it.

T: Similar horrible flavor. Thin banana macro brew infused with a hodge podge of industrial chemicals. Yum!

M: Sort of on the thinner side, fizzy.

D: Don't even think about it.

Not the worst beer in the world but not far from it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.19/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Shiny, happy kumquat with banana peel trim. The head was large immediately after the pour and was nicely whipped creamy as well. Within minutes, it shrank to half its original size and doesn't look nearly as good. An almost complete lack of lace doesn't help. The vibrant hue of the beer is the only thing keeping the appearance score above average.

I'm not a brewer, but I don't see why it wasn't possible to use bananas rather than banana extract. Unfortunately, Mbege smells like the worst sort of artificial fruit extract that one can imagine. I have to believe that it was created in some laboratory rather than extracted from the bananas themselves. Think banana taffy (or those orange, marshmallow-like 'Circus Peanuts') and you'll be warm.

This is one of the oddest beer that I've ever had. Sprecher has to be kidding when they describe the flavor as containing 'light hints of banana'. This 'Fire-brewed, African-style ale' tastes as if the brewers dumped five times as much banana extract into the kettles as they should have. From what I can tell (which isn't much), the base beer is nothing to write home about either.

It's also too sickly sweet. Liquid banana candy is shaping up to be the perfect three word description. Yeah, it doesn't sound that appealing to me either. Believe me, it isn't. A quick search tells me that traditional Mbege is brewed with finger millet in addition to bananas. I doubt that Sprecher used that ingredient since they didn't even use bananas. This is a gimmick beer, it's as simple as that.

I have no idea what a Mbege ale should feel like in the mouth. Using the stated style as a jumping off point, it's somewhere between light and medium, is smooth without being silky and is undercarbonated. Trust me, your reeling brain will be so involved with the flavor that the mouthfeel won't even register.

It occurs to me that the letters that make up Mbege can be rearranged to read 'beg me'. That makes perfect sense to me now that I've grimaced my way through the majority of the pint. Sprecher can 'beg me' all they want, but they'll never convince me to buy another bottle of this whacked out beer.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
2.2/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

(Served in an Imperial strange)

A- This beer has a hazy caramel body with a few bubbles of head and a few random bubbles of carbonation stuck to the glass. No head regardless of a very rigorous pour.

S- The soft smell of diesel exhaust and apple juice has a slight butterscotch nose that comes through stronger as the beer warms.

T- There is a pronounced apple juice flavor with a fusel taste that is almost putrid in quality with a slight wasp spray note and a soft green flavor at the finish.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a tight fizz and a lighter fluid alcohol heat at the finish.

D- I love the tart sorghum beers of west Africa and I was excited when I bought this last week, but I was let down both when I opened it and when I checked BA and realized it was old. The putrid taste was almost intriguing but alas turn out to be undrinkable. It reminded me a bit of an open-fermented hard cider gone bad but I didn't even get any flavors/smells from the banana that they added.

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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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Photo of botham
2.21/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

pours a yellowish caramel brown color with a half finger of off white head that remains for a few seconds. no lacings.

aroma is fruity, without any other aromas present. fruit notes include apple, grape, and a bit of banana. there is no malt or hop quality to speak of.

taste is mildly sour up front, with the same fruit notes as the aroma, and a finish of fruit and a bit of alcohol. the brew itself resembles no more than a sparkling fruit juice with a bit of alcohol added.

mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with a sparkling texture and a semi-smooth finish, leaving a slick mouthfeel.

drinkability is moderate. if one is looking for beer, this will not fit the expectations. no barley malt or hop character, resulting in a drink that might not taste bad to some, but whether or not it is 'beer' is a point easily debated.

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