Beer in Morocco
In keeping up with our tradition of reviewing the beers around the countries we’ve visited, I am reluctantly posting this review of beer around Morocco. I say “reluctantly” because Morocco has been the worst of the 25 countries we’ve visited so far this year, but this is completely understandable. You must understand that Morocco is an Islamic country in which it is against the religion to consume alcohol, hence beer is not so popular here. Yet while the religion strictly forbids it, the nation of Morocco is not as strict about alcohol as other Islamic states. Instead, it allows the sale of alcohol to non-Muslims and places a high tax on it.
Beer Places Around Morocco
Usually you can locate beer in larger cities throughout the country. Most of the coastal towns seem to have bars and cafes serving beer and wine too. Sometimes it’s not listed on the menu but you can discretely ask for it. Most tourist hotels will also often have beer on offer. Some larger cities may have a sectioned-off part of a convenience store selling beer and liquor.
Pubs to get beer in are far and few between. We simply peaked our heads into a few local’s joints out of curiosity and they were very seedy affairs strictly for men only. Meknes seemed to have the greatest abundance of pubs throughout the dozen Moroccan cities we visited. But I wouldn’t recommend non-Moroccan visitors to visit any, particularly since they all carry the same subpar local swill and perhaps some Moroccan-brewed Heineken too.
Beer is almost always served in bottles. Draft beer on tap is rare, as I only noticed it at a resort in Marrakech.
Beers Around Morocco
The beer found in Morocco is produced by Brasseries du Morocco, which is owned by the Castel Group who hold an assortment of other African breweries in its portfolio.
In our opinion, the best beer you can find in Morocco is Casablanca Lager (Pale Lager, 5%). Throughout our journey in Central America, most of the macro-produced beers labeled as “premium” tended to be anything but. So I was reluctant to pay the premium for Casablanca beer. But it was actually okay. While it is still just another relatively bland adjunct lager, for me, it was distinctively better than the others. The beer starts off with a nice sweetness to it and leaves with some noticeable malt flavor. It has a slight lemony taste and a bit of spiciness but you really have to search for those flavors. Casablanca Lager is perhaps a little more difficult to find and you will pay more for it than the other beers in Morocco. (Side note: if you’ve ever been “drinking around the world” at Epcot, this is the beer that is served in the Morocco pavilion.) While I don’t really consider any of the beers to be worth their cost in the country, I would probably shell out the extra for this instead of being subjected to the alternatives.
The handful of other beers available in Morocco isn’t worth much mention.
Most common are Stork Premiere (Pale Lager, 4.7%) and Flag Speciale (Pale Lager 5.2%). The Stork reminded me of a subpar Heineken while the Flag Speciale reminded me a little bit of a watery Coors. Neither beers were awful but they didn’t really leave me wanting more. There is also a regular Flag Pils (as opposed to the Flag ‘Speciale’) and a Castel Beer, but we never came across either of them during our month long stint in the country.
Craft Beers Around Morocco
Don’t come to Morocco looking for craft beer or else you may end up aimlessly wandering around the Sahara for years. Perhaps one day, but for now (2014), you won’t find anything that comes close to craft beer. You will not find any bars that import anything interesting and you certainly won’t see any local brewpubs or microbreweries. I’d imagine there must be much red tape to open up such a venture in Morocco, not to mention lack of demand other than tourists and expats. (Note: With the rapid growth of craft beer around the world, if there is a truly notable place that opens somewhere in Morocco, please leave a comment and I will edit this article.)
BYOB to Morocco
If you absolutely must satiate a craft beer craving, then your best bet is to possibly bring a bottle with you. You are legally permitted to transport one liter of alcohol per person into Morocco. Beer, wine, and liquor are not distinguished from one another in this law, so that means you can only bring in a liter of beer. So choose wisely!
Cost of Beers in Morocco
Alcohol is Morocco is taxed heavily, so you will incur higher than average prices for lower than average quality beer. You can find the lower-end beers elusively at pubs or cafes for about dh20-25 (~$2.5US). In Marrakech you’ll likely pay closer to dh40. At clubs or hotel bars it will be significantly higher, perhaps close to dh60 (~$7US).
Also keep in mind that these are 330ml bottles, which are noticeably smaller than the standard 355ml bottles you’re likely accustomed to. That’s about 10% less! The thought of paying $7 for one of these small and dissatisfying Flag or Stork beers, just makes me cringe.
If its Casablanca you’re after, you can nearly double most of the prices I listed above. I saw it listed in a bar in Marrakech for dh100 (~$11.50). If you can find a shop selling beers, the prices are more reasonable, so that may be your best bet. But the refrigeration in these stores don’t run very cold so just expect a beer that’s only bit cooler than the sweltering desert heat.
Final Thoughts on Beer in Morocco
Just don’t. Morocco has tons of awesomeness to offer but beer is not one of them. Follow the locals and sip on some delicious mint tea instead. To say that beer in Morocco is mediocre at its best, is being extremely generous. Combine that with the fact that its very overpriced and you have quite a low price-to-value ratio. It’s simply not worth the cost, in this drinker’s opinion. Save your beer money and instead enjoy an amazing desert camel trek, splurge on a delicious Moroccan feast, or pick up a few extra souvenirs in the markets. Save the beer consumption for visiting other more beer friendly countries to the North. But if you’re like me and must try the beers when visiting different countries, go ahead, but just don’t say I didn’t warn you 😉