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
- 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.↑
- 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?. ↑