The Windhoek Observer’s newspaper nod to International Beer Day (IBD) requires a thumbs up article about the long term branded beer brewing giant in the country - Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL).
In every corner of the Land of the Brave, rural hamlets and urban jungles, the products of NBL are readily available and highly respected (as well as being avidly consumed.)
While it is not necessary to know the story of NBL to have a great time drinking a Tafel or Urbock, it is a good idea to have buy-in to this Namibian institution and feel proud about something home grown and world renown.
The great tasting products we enjoy in Namibia include: Windhoek Lager, Tafel Lager, Windhoek Draught, Windhoek Light, Hansa Draught, Urbock (dark beer which is only brewed once a year during winter) and Club Shandy (Beer mixed with Lemonade).
As the only large scale commercial brewery in sub Saharan Africa that brews in accordance with the Beer Purity Law of 1516, popularly known as The Reinheitsgebot, NBL, a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group celebrated the 500-year anniversary of this beer tradition, last year.
The Reinheitsgebot – a beer brewing philosophy whereby only malted barley, hops and water may be used as ingredients, was introduced five centuries ago, to protect consumers from beer that often contained additives that could be toxic or poisonous, such as mushrooms, stinging nettle and henbane, to name a few.
Interestingly, it was also introduced in part to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye. The restriction of grains to barley ensured the availability of affordable bread, as wheat and rye were reserved for use by bakers.
NBL Managing Director, Wessie van der Westhuizen said, “We believe in brewing beer naturally, even if it means the process is not cheap and more complex. It is for the consumer’s benefit that we brew in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot - to give them only the best. We are convinced that beer lovers appreciate and taste the difference. The Reinheitsgebot symbol on our beer guarantees that you get only the very best that beer can offer.”
NBL Head Brewer, Christian Müller said they are extremely proud to uphold the tradition established in 1516 and to brew according to the Reinheitsgebot.
“We believe this is the only way to brew a pure beer. It is not an easy task, but NBL chooses not to compromise on quality. We use only the best quality ingredients. Rigorous quality controls and supplier approval procedures are in place to ensure standards are adhered to at all times.”
Müller is a beer brewing expert. In 1988, he began three years of apprenticeship in beer brewing in Köln (Cologne) and he attended vocational school in Dortmund. After the apprenticeship, Müller graduated as a brewer and maltster by trade in 1991.
He qualified as a master brewer in 1995 after two full years of study in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. He started working for NBL in 2003. In 2015 Müller qualified as Africa’s first certified beer sommelier – a course he completed in Germany and Austria.
NBL is owned by the Ohlthaver & List Group, which is a truly African company employing more than 6,200 people in various business sectors.
The Group emerged from the early Ohlthaver & List Bank Kommission partnership between Hermann Ohlthaver and Carl List in 1919. The Group’s Headquarters are located in Windhoek, Namibia.
Today, O&L is Namibia’s largest privately held group of companies, with revenues contributing roughly 4 percent to GDP (2014). It has business interests in food production, fishing, beverages, farming, retail trade, information technology, property leasing and development, renewable power generation, marine engineering, steel retailing, advertising and the leisure and hospitality industry.
With annual revenues of over N$5 billion, O&L is a major contributor to State coffers and is a significant contributor to GDP in Namibia.