Nigerians and their Guinness: A Love Story

Nigerians and their Guinness: A Love Story

Nigerians and their Guinness: A Love Story

Yemisi Aribisala, a Nigerian writer living in London, explores the deep connection Nigerians have with Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, a brew they believe surpasses the Irish original.

Femi Oyebade, a connoisseur, highlights the key differences. Nigerian Guinness is smoother, less bitter, boasts a thicker head, and packs a stronger punch with its higher alcohol content. This distinct taste comes from using locally grown maize and sorghum, catering perfectly to Nigerian palates.

‘Guinness gives you power’

Guinness is widely consumed in Nigeria, including Lagos, its largest city.

Guinness isn’t just a drink in Nigeria; it’s a cultural touchstone. Historic adverts promoted Guinness as a source of strength, while today, “Odekus” (large bottles) and “Lankos” (small bottles) are a common sight in beer parlors.

Low chairs and highlife music

A bar in the Garki district of Abuja, Nigeria.

These social spaces bring Nigerians together over Guinness, pepper soup, and classic highlife music, creating a shared experience that transcends language barriers.

Despite attempts by Nigerian Breweries to create a rival with Legend Extra Stout, Guinness remains the undisputed king. Even for those like Aribisala, who wouldn’t touch a Guinness for personal reasons, the love for the brew runs deep.

She describes her fondness for using Nigerian Guinness in a hearty beef and Guinness stew, a dish that embodies the unique Nigerian twist on this classic brew. The “plenty pepper” adds a kick that cuts through the London grayness, showcasing how Nigerians have truly made Guinness their own and in doing so, created a new standard for enjoying the stout.

‘Give him an Odeku’

You can buy Guinness Foreign Extra Import -- on the left, with the blue ring -- in many London shops. Don't get it confused with Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, on the right.

The debate over which Guinness reigns supreme is likely to continue for years to come. But one thing is undeniable: Nigerians have embraced Guinness with a fervor that goes beyond simply enjoying a beverage. It’s become a symbol of strength, a social lubricant, and a key ingredient in heartwarming dishes that connect them to their homeland.

Whether it’s the celebratory clinking of Odekus in a crowded beer parlor or the aroma of a Guinness stew simmering on the stove, Guinness in Nigeria is more than just a drink; it’s a taste of home.