(Craft) Beer in Mauritius Guide—What a Lovely Surprise!

Trying new beers in a new country or city is one of my favorite things. That’s even better when the beer is crafty. On day 1 in Mauritius, this country already surprised me with its rather thriving craft beer scene. I haven’t fully explored all options yet since I’ve only been here for a few weeks, so I’ll update this post if I encounter more gems of liquid gold.

Mauritian Craft Beer Companies

The first two companies I encountered were Flying Dodo Brewery Company and The Thirsty Fox. The former has a delightfully basic website that leaves you guessing what they’re brewing, whereas the latter has a shiny corporate website with a page of all their beers. The two couldn’t be further apart in the energies they emit.

After spending many hours sipping crafts brews in Ukraine with people who are much more in the know, I’m a little clearer on what is craft and what is commercial. Flying Dodo qualifies as craft beer from an independent brewery without the shadow of a doubt, but The Thirsty Fox is… a bit more commercial.

You see, The Thirsty Fox is part of the larger Oxenham company. They’ve been around for 85+ years and originally made wines. Then they branched out into spirits. And sometime later – date unknown – they branched out into craft beers. If you hang out in the wine and spirits section of any Mauritian supermarket, you’ll see OXENHAM OXENHAM OXENHAM row after row, bottle after bottle.

The most important difference between the two for the average consumer is the shelf life. Flying Dodo is so fresh it needs to be cooled every step of the way. You’ll never see supermarkets sell this beer outside of fridges—or if you do, don’t buy it. That’s probably because of its bottling method, lack of preservatives, and quick turnover. They brew something new a couple of times a year, which also makes not all of the craft beers in this article available when you’re here.

The Thirsty Fox, however, can be bought from room temperature shelves in Mauritian supermarkets. That probably means it’s pasteurized (and perhaps even filtered). Hardcore beer bros will say that’s not craft beer. I’m not here to label businesses. They say it’s small-batch brewed, however.

If you read the labels of both, you can see that there are some subtle digs going back and forth. “The Thirsty Fox was born out of a dream to bring real craft beer to the Mauritian market.”

But First, A Note on Bottle Deposits and Fridge Fees in Mauritius

If you can’t read French, you won’t figure out why you’re always overpaying for bottled drinks from the supermarket fridge. Here’s what to look out for:

Open this to learn about bottle deposits

Bottle deposits (consigne)

We haven’t gone to many supermarkets yet, but the one in Mahébourg – Loyeung – has a serious bottle deposit system. In French, it’s called consigne and you’ll find it on your receipt and sometimes on the price tag in the shop.

Depending on the type of glass bottle, you pay between Rs. 7 and Rs. 55 on top of your product. It’s to incentivize you to bring the bottle in a good condition back to the store to receive your deposit back. The bottles get cleaned out and reused. This is, eh, very important for a small country in the middle of the Indian Ocean that needs to use its resources more efficiently.

If you’re not familiar with bottle deposits at all, this is what you do:

  • Drink your beverage and enjoy it
  • Give it a little rinse with water after drinking
  • Put it in a bag to take to the supermarket
    • We haven’t tried bringing it back to a different shop than the one we bought it at, but we assume this is no problem as long as they sell the same beer
  • Find the bottle cart or ask the people where to do the consigne while helplessly pointing at your empty bottle. Staff will know what to do
  • Receive a receipt of all the bottles you handed back. It states the total value of all your deposited bottles
  • Buy something new at the supermarket and use the bottle deposit receipt to get a discount on what you’re buying

And if you did the math on the prices I mentioned earlier and wonder “Hold up, there exists a bottle where the deposit is valued at Rs. 55 (€1.12 or US$1.25), I’m not paying that!” Then that’s your loss because that’s the value of a Flying Dodo bottle—hands down the best craft beer in Mauritius.

As long as you don’t break the bottle, you’ll get your money back. It’s not hard.

Open this to learn about refrigeration fees

Fridge fees (boisson glacée)

Mauritius has a tropical climate, so keeping things cool takes a lot of electricity. Keeping beverages cool is probably expensive for the supermarket. That’s why you pay a Rs. 3 fee on all cooled drinks. That’s €0.06 or US$0.07 and not really a fee that should stop you. On the receipt, you can find it as boissoin glacée, which means ice-cold drink. Sometimes they also write it on the price tags in the fridge.

When buying (craft) beer in Mauritius, you can avoid paying this fee by buying the beer off the room temperature shelves. You can do this with The Thirsty Fox, Phoenix lager, or just a plain old bottle of coca-cola, for example. But for Flying Dodo, you must pay this fee because their craft beers are always in the fridge.

Note: the prices mentioned in this article are based on the Loyeung shop in Mahébourg and therefore just an example. These craft beers can be cheaper or more expensive elsewhere. 

Flying Dodo Brewing Company

So yes, I already spilled the beans and told you that Flying Dodo (Instagram) has the best craft beer in Mauritius. They opened their brewery in 2011 and are therefore brewing craft beers on the island the longest. Any craft beer lover will want to visit their brewery and their taproom. I haven’t gone to either yet but I fully intend to.

Their bottles come with the Grolsch-style flip-top closure, so you don’t need a bottle opener. A plastic seal covers the entire cap so you know it hasn’t been messed with. The minimum commitment is 1 liter of beer and it has to be drunk in full in one go because otherwise, it will spoil. Opening the bottle can be a bit violent as it usually pops off loudly and with a little spray.

Each plastic label mentions the beer style, the alcohol content (ABV), the bitterness (IBU), and something I’d never heard of before: the Plato scale. That last one stands for the ratio of fermentable sugars to water. So the higher the P, the less watery it is. I’m not sure why I should care.

On the recyclable bottle itself, it also says the beer style again on a white field with some supposedly funny text. For some beer styles – such as the IPA – this white field will mention which types of hops were used in the making of this craft beer.

Their website mentions that they brew 20 different beers a year. So if you’re staying in Mauritius for a long time, you’ll be lucky enough to see the arrival of new brews as well as the sad departure of old ones. Such is life.

Anyway, here are the craft brews we have drunk since arriving in Mauritius on the 3rd of December, 2021. I ranked them by my tastes.

NEIPA — New England India Pale Ale

NEIPA the flying dodo round 1

6.6% alcohol ║ 25 IBU ║ 16 P ║ 1.0 Liters ║ Rs. 215

This beer fits the tropical island it hails from. It’s hazy, rehydrating, and tastes quite fruity. The hops are there but they’re milder. This NEIPA is an absolute banger and the favorite of both of us. We bought it multiple times. The risk of it being so delicious is that you might drink it too fast.

IPA — India Pale Ale (Motueka hops)

6.2% alcohol ║ 50 IBU ║ 16.1 P ║ 1.0 Liters ║ Rs. 195

So hoppy for the tropics but still so good. The version we bought in December 2021 had Motueka hops from New Zealand. Very fancy. We recommend drinking it while in an airconditioned room to pretend you’re in a colder country. IPA-lovers will be happy the Flying Dodo exists upon visiting Mauritius.

Belgian-Style Wit

5% alcohol ║ 18 IBU ║ 12 P ║ 1.0 Liters ║ Rs. 190

This was our very first Flying Dodo beer. It’s quality beer and a good one to drink after kayaking all day. It tastes like a herby mountain meadow and you can still taste them hops even if they’re subtle.

Nation’Ale — Amber Ale

5.9% alcohol ║ 17 IBU ║ 14 P ║ 1.0 Liters ║ Rs. 190

Honey smell with a caramel taste. Nice dark old-world color. Not a boring beer but also not our favorite.

Blonde

Blonde mauritian craft beer the flying dodo brewery

5 alcohol ║ 12 IBU ║ 12.2 P ║ 1.0 Liters ║ Rs. 180

I found this one a little mealy, but it was still special. It was the cheapest one in the Flying Dodo selection during our stay. We’d rather spend a bit more to have something that’s really awesome.

The Thirsty Fox (Oxenham)

According to their bottles, The Thirsty Fox (Instagram) started their craft beer operations in 2018. The Thirsty Fox (TTF) has some really nice beers and a few that I think aren’t that special. Most of their craft beers come in 330 ml bottles, with Rs. 7 bottle deposit. They’re also very cute bottles but in a deliberate design way. Just one of their beers comes in 0.5-liter cans, which is the better way to go about it than heavy glass with little quantity in my opinion.

Though they have the design worked out, their messaging on the bottle is a bit unclear. Some beers didn’t mention the IBU on the bottle or can, while others did. You can find more info about their beers on their website, which is also where I got the IBU information from. That info sometimes contradicted what was written on the bottle.

Raspberry Weiss

RASPBERRY WEISS the thirsty fox closeup

4.0% alcohol ║ 23 IBU (bottle), 8 IBU (website) ║ 0.33 Liters ║ Rs. 58.50 — Liter price: Rs. 177.27

This was one of the last beers by this company that I tried and it came out as one of the best surprises. It’s fruity and refreshing, almost like lemonade. This is the perfect beer for someone who doesn’t really like the taste of beer but does want to participate. Or it’s good for if you want to have something sweet and a little sour for a change. It’s nice and cloudy and honestly, try this.

Though it says on the bottle that the beer is unfiltered, I didn’t find raspberry seeds towards the end as I’d anticipated. That’s probably because they say it’s made with raspberry extract.

We tried this one in tandem with TTF lo-cal beer (see below).

Weiss

WEISS the thirsty fox craft beer in mauritius

4.0% alcohol ║ 10 IBU ║ 0.33 Liters ║ Rs. 53 — Liter price: Rs. 160.61

Not bad! I smelled a little cilantro at first. Jonas got flowers and peach. We wished the bottle was bigger. We drank this in tandem with TTF lager (see down below).

Strong Lager

STRONG LAGER the thirsty fox Mauritius finally something in a can

6.0% alcohol ║ 15 IBU ║ 0.5 Liters ║ Rs. 75 — Liter price: Rs. 150

The only The Thirsty Fox beer that comes in a can and in a reasonable quantity! This was a really good beer to share on a hot evening. You can taste the heavier alcoholic content, which somehow results in a rather sweet beer. Like caramel. Jonas found it rather smooth. It’s also quite strong and will knock you out if you’re already a bit dehydrated.

Lo-Cal

LO-CAL The thirsty fox craft beer in Mauritius

2.5% alcohol ║ 15 IBU ║ 0.33 Liters║ Rs. 49 — Liter price: Rs. 148.48

I only bought this for completist purposes, but it had a happy surprise. The beer doesn’t taste like a regular lager or a disgustingly-sweet alcohol-free malt beer as I’d feared. It’s actually a little hoppy and very refreshing. I guess for some people, the diet-culture wording is not off-putting. If you’re one of them, it makes sense to try this low-calorie beer.

This beer has less alcohol in it, which results in a brew under 100 calories. They say it’s due to a special yeast extract. Anyway, it’s nice to try it once and feel less bad about drinking beer. We drank this one in tandem with the Raspberry Weiss.

Amber Ale

AMBER ALE the thirsty fox craft beer in Mauritius

5.0% alcohol ║ 16 IBU ║ 0.33 Liters ║ Rs. 53 — Liter price: Rs. 160.61

Very, very sweet, but such a nice color. Drank in tandem with the Pale Ale down below.

Pale Ale

PALE ALE the thirsty fox craft beer in Mauritius

5.0% alcohol ║ 20 IBU ║ 0.33 Liters ║ Rs. 50 — Rs. 151.52

I had high hopes for the pale ale, but it tasted nearly indistinguishable from the very sweet amber ale.

Lager

LAGER the thirsty fox mauritian craft beer lager

4.0% alcohol ║ 18 IBU ║ 0.33 Liters ║ Rs. 50 — Rs. 151.52

I found it a little stinky at first like a Beck’s but then you taste it and it goes away. Nothing to write home about, and no reason to walk to the supermarket. You might as well buy a sixpack of Phoenix in a can and not pay the consigne. Why should you still try it? Eh, if you like local beer, just make sure to try them all once.

We drank this one before the Weiss and it’s better to get the Weiss.

Beer in Mauritius That’s Not Crafty: Phoenix

phoenix beverages in mauritius

Of course, the lion’s share of beer in Mauritius is commercial and lager. Phoenix beverages is the largest brewery in Mauritius. They haven’t ventured out into ‘commercial craft’ yet as far as I know. These are their products you’ll encounter in supermarkets and on the menus at restaurants and bars:

Phoenix Beer

Phoenix lager beer in Mauritius

Lager, 5.0% alcohol. This is the most common beer in Mauritius. Without searching, you’ll find it at most restaurants and shops when you ask for bière. They often have it on tap (pression) or in a bottle (chopine).

Spéciale Phoenix

Lager, 6.5% alcohol. We haven’t tried this one yet because the focus has been craft beer.

Blue Marlin

Lager, 6.0% alcohol. I also haven’t tried this one yet, perhaps because there’s a giant fish on the bottle and I dislike fish. I’ve seen it on menus in restaurants.

Stella Pils

Lager, 4.8% alcohol. Haven’t tried it yet! I’ve only seen it in shops, never in restaurants or bars.

Phoenix Fresh

Lemon-flavored radler, 3.5% alcohol. I haven’t consciously seen it but I have a photo where it’s sold in a shop. I’d like to try this because radlers are great in hot countries.

Guinness Foreign Extra

Stout, 7.5% alcohol. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve had Guinness FES produced in Nigeria and exported to Belize before. Stouts in hot countries aren’t my favorite, but I shall try it once and report back.

Gister

Lager, 4.8%. I haven’t seen it anywhere, so it might as well not exist. They say this is a special hoppy lager with extra flavors and quality. So perhaps this is the first attempt of Phoenix to test the waters for making their own craft beer in Mauritius? They have the facilities.

Available Imported Beer in Mauritius

imported beers in Mauritius 1 imported beers in mauritius 2

Since Mauritius has great craft beer, I think it’s unnecessary to ever drink imported beers. For the environment and supporting local businesses, I think it’s best to stick only to made in Moris—whether the beer you’re drinking is a member of that label or not.

But you do you, so if you really need that Corona or Heineken, their availability varies. So far what I’ve seen in the supermarkets, the following imported beers (with or without alcohol) are available in Mauritius: Heineken, Bavaria, Tsingtao, 3 Horses, Castle, Corona, Budweiser, Leffe, Carlsberg, Bière 66, Windhoek, Amstel, Desperados, and perhaps more. I can’t tell you if they’ve been brewed in the countries the brands hail from, but that would mean a representation of: Namibia, South Africa, Belgium, China, the Netherlands, Mexico, the USA, Denmark, and France.

Not a bad yield, but I’m going to stick to the best craft beer in Mauritius, made in Mauritius.

Taprooms and Breweries to Visit

Here’s a map of all the breweries in Mauritius. Green means you can visit the brewery/taproom and drink a nice beer on-site. Orange means I don’t know if they have tours or tastings. Once I visit the Flying Dodo brewery and taproom, I’ll probably update this piece here to tell you how that was. Due to covid, make sure to contact them in advance to ask if it’s open. And make sure you have a Mauritian SIM card to navigate there smoothly.

Good read? Consider buying me a NEIPA!

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