By Mohalenyane Phakela
MASERU — Lesotho is set to host an international beer festival in April this year in a landmark development the organisers hope would help boost the country’s tourism industry.
The event, scheduled for April 19 at the Maseru Club, was inspired by Germany’s Oktoberfest — the renowned 16-day fiesta held in Munich every year and attended by more than six million people from around the world.
According to the organiser of the festival, Kaizer Matsumunyane, the event is expected to become a “permanent and important feature” on the country’s economic landscape.
“Basotho’s great passion for beer and its tourism potential compelled us to come up with an event of this nature,” Matsumunyane said in an interview with the Weekender at the launch of the festival on Friday last week.
“We intend to make this the biggest beer festival on the continent and plan to have different kinds of beers, lagers, spirits and vodkas from all over Africa at one location for everyone to enjoy.
“It is our pledge to expose the attendees to as many beers as possible so we are also going to incorporate traditional beers from all the participating African countries. Traditional beer has always been frowned upon but people need to know its value as it has a lot to do with our customs.
“In addition, Basotho are not that exposed to different beer-flavours. I mean, some people don’t even know beer comes in different tastes and also that it does not have to be bitter to be called a beer, so this festival would be an opportunity for them to have a taste of a wide range of beers.”
According to Matsumunyane, both micro and macro brewers from around Africa would showcase their products at the festival.
“As this is our first beer fiesta, we are hoping to have about 15 brewers at the event, and so far, eight have confirmed their presence.
“The private brewers have shown more interest as they will use the platform to market their products and tap into the market. The event is also meant to entice Basotho into the brewing business,” said Matsumunyane, adding there is still room for more brewers in Lesotho.
“It is true that Lesotho is a small country but that should not limit us into having one brewery, as is the case at the moment. Other African countries have more than fifty, so why can’t we?”
Meanwhile, guests at Friday’s launch were treated to a variety of alcoholic beverages such as Dragon Fiery Ginger, African Pale Ale, Copper Lake Chocolate and Soweto Gold.
One of the attendees, Gerry Merriman, told the Weekender he was seeing some of the beers being served, for the first time.
“I have tasted so many beers today, which I never knew existed. I didn’t know they brewed Indian Pale Ale in Africa, until now. From the list of beers before me today, I only knew Maluti. The beers have different taste which is good because they can create their own market. The brewing company that serves Lesotho’s market does not offer this kind of variety. I am really having a great time, and can’t wait for the festival itself,” Merriman said.