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The story of East Africa's most famous alcoholic drink

A century of Tusker, the iconic Kenyan beer

16-11-2022 di redazione

Kenya celebrates this year, a century of one of its excellences.
1922. An important year for Kenya.
Two years ago, the British East African Protectorate was made into a colony and young Nairobi became its capital. Taking its name from its highest and most iconic mountain, the colony was named Kenya.
In its hills, from Ngong to Muthaiga, many enterprising Englishmen are industrious in agricultural and proto-industrial pursuits and indulge in exotic pleasures, including golf and big-game hunting.
Two of them are brothers. Charles and George Hurst are farmers with a passion for the savannah and a passion for balling its animals (a practice common to all at the time, even those who loved and respected them, though saying so today sounds paradoxical). Back home, however, they had also specialized in producing craft beer.
After scraping together a nice nest egg as prospectors, the Hurst brothers decided to invest their earnings in a brewery. They officially registered their company on Dec. 8, 1922 under the name "Kenya Breweries."
Success was immediate, with only the Stanley Hotel, the most prestigious hotel in Nairobi, ordering cases and cases of it. After a year Charles and George were ready to launch a full-fledged "brand" in the market, to reach the whole country.
George was known as a savannah enthusiast and big game hunter.
In the very year that "Kenya Breweries" opened, he had come face to face with a lion and miraculously saved himself, sustaining only a few injuries.
Meanwhile, Kenya's first official beer was a reality.
On a hunting trip a few months later, however, the fearless George intent on taking pictures of a male elephant and its wonderful tusks, got too close to the specimen, which was on him with full force and killed him by trampling him.  
The large male elephants of East Africa are known as "Tuskers."
In his memory, Charles Hurst decided to name their first "industrial" lager Tusker.
Branding and advertising started in 1924, Tusker Lager with the famous 500 ml bottle was officially produced in 1929. 
The elephant beer was a hit and in 1935, after also buying a brewery in then Tanganyika, the company became "East African Breweries." 
In 1938 Tusker won the first of many awards in international competitions for this type of beverage.
Since George Hurst's tragic end, today the big elephant stands in every bar, restaurant and supermarket in Kenya and is one of the emblems of this country, portrayed on T-shirts, cup holders, tablecloths and walls in every Kenyan town and remote village. A true trademark of the country, not only for the thousands of domestic consumers, but for tourists and travelers alike.
The celebrated "Tusker," with the elephant in the logo, is now one of the symbols of this nation and is the best-selling beer in East Africa.

TAGS: beertusker beeranniversary tuskerkenya beerbreweries

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