- Located in Serengeti, the solar-powered microbrewery at Sayari Camp produces three ales and one lager.
Checking into my tent at Sayari Camp in northern Serengeti, I found four complimentary beers in unmarked 750ml glass bottles in the fridge.
I tried the lightest coloured beer, a blonde ale. It turned out to be my favourite.
Later that evening, over sundowners while watching wildebeest milling about some hundred metres away from the bar, I met Ronald Muzinya, a Ugandan national and area representative for Wayout, the Scandinavian start-up responsible for setting up East Africa’s first solar-powered microbrewery in the bush.
“This is our second module, and the first is in Nairobi at a bar called The Kraft in Westlands,” he said.
“They are water, soda and beer modules. We make the best water you’ll ever find, still or sparkling. It’s treated with reverse osmosis which is the top technology in water treatment right now. We also use UV light treatment...anything that survives reverse osmosis won’t survive this, making the water safe for drinking.”
For companies like Asilia Africa, in charge of Sayari Camp, who have been carbon neutral since 2009, the allure of having their own solar-powered microbrewery is not only reducing waste by eliminating the need for plastic bottles and cans in the camp, but also reducing the transport carbon footprint.
“You’re bringing the micro-factory to the place itself,” adds Mr Muzinya. “This helps them go green and cut down middlemen, transport and waste.”
They currently produce three ales and one lager.
“The Indian pale ale has some prominent bitterness because it’s very hoppy with a lot of malt. We have the brown ale which as the name suggests, is kind of toffee and caramel in taste with moderate bitterness. The blonde ale has low bitterness and is straw flavoured and coloured. For lager, we have European-style Pilsner.”
One might wonder, though, if, in the long term, this is more cost-effective than actually bringing in beers and soft drinks to the property.
“At Sayari, we are using solar...anyone who can afford solar can have the microbrewery because power is the main thing,” says Mr Muzinya.
“The water is from a borehole, which we treat. You need WiFi- the module is part of the internet of things, and we have an app through which we can access it remotely. I don’t even need to be here physically to operate it, and on this particular trip, I’ve been at the Serengeti for just two weeks.”
He shows me how it all works. When he is at the camp, he does staff training and maintenance.
If they want to make another brew, after the extracts have been put in, the staff just feed in the recipe and watch the magic happen. The idea is that the camp should do as little as possible, just tap and get beers for their patrons. By being able to brew remotely, Wayout leaves less work for the camp to do.
Sayari Camp started as a traditional mobile camp moving north to south through the Serengeti while following the Great Wildebeest Migration.
But in 2009, they were the first permanent camp to set roots in northern Serengeti.
While the industrial-looking micro-factory sits smack in the middle of the bar, it has been disguised to blend in with the rest of the earth tones in the decor, and compliments the wood panel walls and woven rattan light fixtures in the space.