I never thought of the small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius as having much of a brewing tradition, so I was surprised to find that the island produces a number of very good beers.
A bottle of beer (or less common, a draught beer) in a café or restaurant generally costs (as at February 2008) between 50 and 65 Rupees (approx. 1 GBP). However, in a waterfront bar at the Caudan Waterfront complex in Port Louis I paid 115 Rupees for a draught Phoenix beer and, rather inexplicably, 150 Rupees for a beer at the B52 Cocktail Bar in Grand Baie.
330ml bottles cost just 20 Rupees (approx. 0.40 GBP) from the Super U hypermarket in Grand Baie.
The main local beers that I tried during my visit to Mauritius were:
Phoenix - http://www.phoenixbeveragesgroup.com
Carrying the slogan “The Famous Beer of Mauritius Since 1963”, Phoenix boasts of being the most popular beer on the island. From my experience, it would be difficult to dispute that claim, as almost all restaurants and bars offer Phoenix beer.
It is a crisp 5% lager, very refreshing when served ice cold on a hot Mauritian afternoon.
Phoenix has won several awards over the years, most recently scooping the “Grand Gold Medal” in the “Monde Selection” at the international beer awards in Brussels in 2007, adding to 3 Gold Medals that it had claimed in previous years. It is apparently held in very high esteem on the international beer stage!
Its logo features a black phoenix on a red and white background, and you will frequently notice this logo on pub umbrellas and signs outside restaurants and cafes.
Phoenix Special Brew - http://www.phoenixbeveragesgroup.com
Also brewed by Phoenix Beverages Limited, the “Special Brew” is a recent addition, having been brewed only since 2005.
At 6.5% it is stronger than the original Phoenix and is less commonly available in restaurants and bars.
The labels on the Special Brew bottles are a darker red than those on the Phoenix bottles, and feature a black phoenix on a golden yellow background.
Blue Marlin - http://www.phoenixbeveragesgroup.com
Another beer brewed by Phoenix Beverages Limited, Blue Marlin dates back to 1990 and is classified as a strong 6% beer.
Like Phoenix, Blue Marlin has won international accolades in beer competitions, including the “Gold Medal Monde Selection” in 1992.
Not as widespread as Phoenix, but available in many restaurants and bars and you’ll see its logo (the silver and blue head of a marlin fish) on umbrellas outside some cafes.
Brewed by Universal Breweries Limited, at Nouvelle France in the centre of the island, Black Eagle bottles proudly bear the tag “100% Mauritian Beer”.
Black Eagle is the main competitor of the above Phoenix Beverages-brewed beers and, while not as commonplace as Phoenix, I found it in most restaurants and cafes. I would say that it is probably more widely available than Blue Marlin.
I enjoyed a few bottles of Black Eagle during various meals on the island. Those bottles were the standard 5% lager, not too dissimilar to Phoenix in my opinion. I also enjoyed a bottle of the rarer, 7% “Black Eagle Xtra” from the supermarket – needless to say, this was a darker and stronger beer and not nearly as refreshing as the lighter lagers.
Not surprisingly, the beer’s logo features a large black and gold eagle.
As well as the domestic beers, you can enjoy a range of imported bottled beers. However, I would strongly recommend drinking the internationally acclaimed Mauritian beers during your stay!