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Mbege Ale | Sprecher Brewing Company

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Mbege AleMbege Ale
42 Ratings
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 emerge077
2.98/5  rDev +23.1%
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 ChainGangGuy
2.58/5  rDev +6.6%
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 BuckeyeNation
2.19/5  rDev -9.5%
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 feloniousmonk
3.67/5  rDev +51.7%
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 aasher
2.12/5  rDev -12.4%
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 DoubleJ
3.43/5  rDev +41.7%
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 Mora2000
2.7/5  rDev +11.6%
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 Halcyondays
4.2/5  rDev +73.6%
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 weeare138
2.45/5  rDev +1.2%
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 rhoadsrage
2.2/5  rDev -9.1%
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 Bighuge
1.3/5  rDev -46.3%
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 mynie
2.48/5  rDev +2.5%
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 +4.5%
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 BeerFMAndy
2.02/5  rDev -16.5%
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 BeerAdvocate
2.69/5  rDev +11.2%
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 tpd975
2.13/5  rDev -12%
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 Exiled
2/5  rDev -17.4%

Photo of Floydster
2.82/5  rDev +16.5%
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 kmpitz2
3.22/5  rDev +33.1%
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 orbitalr0x
1.24/5  rDev -48.8%
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 Drew966
2.85/5  rDev +17.8%
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 pmcadamis
1.78/5  rDev -26.4%
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 BeerBelcher
1.7/5  rDev -29.8%
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 instinct2
1.8/5  rDev -25.6%

Photo of aforbes10
1.94/5  rDev -19.8%
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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Mbege Ale from Sprecher Brewing Company
Beer rating: 2.42 out of 5 with 42 ratings
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