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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 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 sauron681
2.21/5  rDev -8.7%
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 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 botham
2.21/5  rDev -8.7%
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 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 Slynger
2.58/5  rDev +6.6%
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 ALESwhatCURESya
2.85/5  rDev +17.8%
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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 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 uwmgdman
3.05/5  rDev +26%
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 shbobdb
2.41/5  rDev -0.4%
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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Mbege Ale from Sprecher Brewing Company
Beer rating: 2.42 out of 5 with 42 ratings
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