August 28, 2014

In Swahili, Tangawizi Is the Word for Ginger

Stoney Ginger Beer Can

Stories of an intriguing East African ginger beer had been making their way to me for a couple of years. As told by a handful of travelers, the tale was always strikingly similar: hot and sweaty under the mid-day sun, a local guide, or an ex-pat friend, introduced a brown glass bottle with an elaborate logo and a funny name over lunch in a market or neighborhood restaurant. The taste–an intense ginger burn and an explosion of carbonation–cut through the midday heat and the dusty streets leaving a lasting memory. So goes the tale of Stoney Tangawizi.

The Coca Cola company sells Stoney Tangawizi in several African countries. And to my delight this ginger beer can be purchased online at AfricaHut. Apparently the recipe varies by country. In Southern Africa it’s reported to have more carbonation and a sweeter taste while the East African version tends to have a much stronger ginger bite. After a week of anticipation, a six pack (canned in South Africa) arrived, necessitating a tasting.1

This soda introduces itself with a burst of carbonation—hold it close and you’ll have a good nasal burst. But it disappoints with only a weak scent of ginger. While the effervescence continues during the first sip, the ginger failed to command the attention I’ve come to expect in a quality ginger beer. Many of our tasters were turned off by the initial taste calling it “stale” or “tinny”. The taste does improve as it lingers, with a long, slow and low burn that’s drawn out over several seconds.

As much as I hate to say it, this ginger beer didn’t live up to the hype. These cans would score a 6 (7 at best) putting it as a middle of the road ginger beer. One of the tasters put it best when he said:

Medium rating, overall a solid unabashed ginger beer but unbalanced. Put off by no ginger in the list of ingredients.

As is often the case with memories of travel, the experience doesn’t hold the same weight at home. I suspect this ginger beer will always be inseparable for some whose experience is greater than the sum of a single soda. But if that ‘aint you I wouldn’t go out of your way to get your hands on Stoney Tangawizi—it’s an average ginger beer at best.2

  1. While this was not an official 2 Out of Three tasting, the committee members were all experienced ginger beer connoisseurs who took the responsibility of contributing their opinion to the #1 ginger beer website seriously.
  2. I’m curious to sample Stoney Tangawizi from an East African country. The stronger ginger bite it’s reported to have may just make this beverage the real deal?.

5 comments

  1. Michael Williams on

    All I know is that Stoney Tangawizi in Tanzania is the “bomb.” And I consider myself a bit of a ginger beer aficionado, having had ginger beer from numerous different countries. Stoney Tangawizi might even be better than its Jamaican and Bermudan competitors! However, the Stoney that I had in Restaurant Madiba, the South African Restaurant in Harlem, was very different than the one from Tanzania. And it is the one in the brownish-red can as mentioned by the writer above. This one does not live up to the hype. And trust me, I am disappointed, because since I last went to Tanzania, I have been in search of Stoney Tangawizi. Looks like you gotta head over to Tanzania if you want the real Stoney Tangawizi deal!!!!

  2. osykamatityahu on

    Nonono mannnn. The issue is that it’s in a can! They’re nasty when they’re in a can! I always got Stoney in Uganda (Stoney Tangawizi) in a glass bottle! That’s when they’re the best. In fact, now that I’m in the U.S, the reason why I don’t buy the stuff from online is because the reviews actually say that the canned Stoney tastes much different than the glass bottle Stoney!

  3. Ashley on

    I have never had it in a can, but I agree with Osykamatityahu. I have had it in Uganda in glass and it is very good…although ginger is still missing from the ingredients :/

  4. Abraham on

    @Osykamatityahu and @Ashley, thanks for the note about Stoney in a bottle vs a can. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a bottle to compare the difference.

  5. Vicky on

    The South African brand is different from the East African brand. I would’ve sent a bottle if I was sure they travel well. Stoney Tangawizi is really good and worth the hype.