Recently I had the opportunity to visit Lagos, Nigeria for work. As a part of any new experience for me, I like to sample the local food and try the locally brewed beer if at all possible. Without question, the most obvious locally brewed beer in Nigeria is Star Lager Beer. As with most breweries around the world, there is an affiliation to a larger, more well-known brewery company. Star Lager is no exception; it is brewed by a partially owned Heineken subsidiary named Nigerian Breweries.
Is Star Lager one of the Top 10 Best Beers that I have drunk? No, it is not. Is it one of the Bottom 10 Worse Beers that I have drunk? No it is not. So what makes Star Lager worthy enough to write a post?
The simple answer is the weather. The winter temperature for Lagos, Nigeria is a humid 90 degrees Fahrenheit / 32 degrees Celsius during the day and dropping down to 78 degrees Fahrenheit / 26 degrees Celsius at night. Not exactly weather where I am craving a Bock, Stout or even a heavy Lager. Star Lager is a Pale Lager that is light on the hops with a crisp and clean finish when drinking. What separated this beer from many other beers that I have drunk in warm weather is that even as the temperature of the beer rises, the taste does not go off. We have all drunk a beer that when it comes close to room / outdoor temperature, you are seriously considering opening a new bottle versus finishing the last few sips remaining in the bottle or glass.
Over the years I have sampled the local beers in climates that are considered more hot and humid then temperate and comfortable. Unfortunately, many of these beers even if drinkable when cold are closer to swill when the beer is warm. A few beers come to mind; Julbrew from The Gambia, Stella from Egypt, Gulder from Nigeria and sadly many of beers brewed by the beer giants in the United States.
There are two additional notes worthy of mention in this post. The first is that not only does Star Lager hold up in warmer weather, but it is typically served in a 500ml bottle, which makes for the chances of the beer becoming warm before you finish greater. The second note is that due to restrictions in importing barley into Nigeria, Nigerian breweries have had to substitute sorghum for barley. With Stare Lager I would not have known about this substitution if I had not read about it when researching for information for this post.
So if you find yourself in Lagos, Nigeria and after navigating through Immigration and Customs and the unique traffic congestion of the city, asking for a Star Lager from the hotel bar tender over a locally brewed Heineken is a good choice and will not have you running to the bathroom to brush the skunk of a warm beer from your mouth.