Kenya’s national beer is the famous Tusker lager. However, there are many traditional, homemade brews that have been passed down generations. Muratina is a one such beverage. A staple of Central Kenya’s Kikuyu community, it has a sour, distinctly fruity flavor.
Muratina is named after a fruit that comes from a wild tree commonly called the “sausage tree” due to the long, sausage-like shape of the fruit, which dangle from string-like twigs. These fruits are poisonous when eaten raw, so cooks often boil or roast them.
Traditions dictate that only the fruits that have fallen on the ground should be used. Brewers—who have learned the art of making muratina from years of watching elders—combine boiled, sun-dried fruit with water and sugarcane juice (and sometimes honey), then allow the mixture to ferment over several days. Muratina can be dangerous when made incorrectly, but properly-prepared batches will be crisp and moderately sour with a mild, residual sweetness and smooth aftertaste.
Traditionally, the brew is served in cow horns. Unlike an ordinary glass, you cannot put down a horn. Once you inadvertently put it down and spill its contents, it will be clear to those around you that you are drunk. That’s a sign it’s time to head home.