Windhoek Lager has won eight gold medals since 2005
Windhoek Lager has won eight gold medals since 2005
Sebastian Geisler

Reinheitsgebot is the name of the German Beer Purity Law, which states that only barley, water and hops may go into beer.

Reinheitsgebot is also the best-known German word in Namibia. April 23, marked the 497th anniversary of the proclamation of that law in Bavaria, and in Namibia the anniversary is always cause for celebration. That’s because one of the world’s top beers is brewed in this former German colony in southwest Africa – Windhoek Lager, named after Namibia’s capital city.

Is the beer made in accordance with the German law? “Absolutely!” says master brewer Christian Müller. An African of German heritage, Müller says that German beer has become part of Namibian culture. His pride in Windhoek Lager is matched by the appreciation it gets elsewhere – such as the prestigious international DLG quality test organized by the Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft (German Agricultural Society), which has earned Windhoek eight gold medals since 2005.

In Germany, Windhoek Lager is mostly known among beer enthusiasts, but there’s a fan base across Europe – and not only because African-German lager beer has curiosity value. "The success of a beer is always determined by its taste," Müller says.

German quality

The law establishing Namibia’s "German Beer Day" was proclaimed in 1516 by Wilhelm IV, Duke of Bavaria. "Every Namibian knows what it is," says Müller.

And the Africans take it very seriously. Each step of the brewing process is carefully watched by workers sitting in front of flat-screen monitors. Müller patrols the halls where the beer, or what will later become beer, makes its way through an impressive system of pipes and huge steel vats. A general rule of thumb in this desert country is – what comes from Germany is quality.

Every year, Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) in Windhoek produces 214 million liters of beer – including the extremely popular Tafel Lager. It also has licenses to brew or distribute well-known brands like Heineken and Guinness, and for the annual German-Namibian Carnival it makes a special beer much enjoyed by merrymakers wearing traditional German dress.

Some 60% of NBL’s production is presently exported to South Africa and over 20 other countries around the world. But the company is in full expansion, producing 20,000 bottles of Windhoek Lager an hour requiring brewery workers to rotate on four shifts.

After the day’s work, everybody gathers at the Felsenkeller tavern in the brewery complex for some freshly tapped beer. "Prost!" (cheers) Müller calls out. That’s another German word everybody knows in Namibia.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
food / travel

Russia Thirsts For Prestige Mark On World's Wine List

Gone are sweet Soviet wines, forgotten is the "dry law" of Gorbachev, Russian viticulture is now reborn.

A wine cellar at the Twins Garden restaurant in Moscow

Benjamin Quenelle

MOSCOW — A year after its opening, Russian Wine is always full. Located in the center of Moscow, it has become a trendy restaurant. Its wine list stands out: It offers Russian brands only, more than 200, signalled in different colors across all the southern regions of the country.

Russian Wine (in English on the store front, as well as on the eclectic menu) unsurprisingly includes Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula where viticulture has revived since Moscow annexed it in 2014.

Keep reading... Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ