Beer Beyond Brand and Becoming National Identity

White Bull Lager. It didn’t register at all to me. And it isn’t until the news of its possible extinction that I heard about it at all. The history of White Bull Lager is part of the history of an independent South Sudan. And while (of course) there is a longer history than when it became an independent country in 2011, that shorter history of independence would likely have a chapter that includes the Southern Sudan Beverages brewery and their White Bull Lager.

Sadly, this is not a unique occurrence. And right now, it’s even happening in Venezuela — in a slightly different flavor.

Polar Beer. Didn’t hear of that one either. It is THE beer in Venezuela. With being that big, that iconic, that ingrained in the country’s economy by expanding into other beverages, ice creams, condiments and other foods, the brand becomes that much more important to the populace. A power that the government becomes suspicious of. Or so it appears in Venezuela. I do honestly hope it gets worked out by both sides. Beer is generally embraced by the people, and let’s face it, lightens the mood. Especially with digesting the political agendas of the people running the country.

I’ve been on a bit of a scavenger hunt for another SABMiller brand, and still didn’t notice White Bull. SABMiller owns Southern Sudan Beverages. As the article reads, they invested $50 million in the brewery, second only to oil. Putting beer up there with oil gives a better global perspective on the matter. I can’t fathom the importance it gives to the people of South Sudan.

San Miguel in the Philippines. Imperial in Costa Rica. Beerlao in Laos. Taiwan Beer is a symbol of their country’s steps into democracy and an open market after the Monopoly Bureau imposed by the Chinese National government was closed. Many beers are national symbols. You can label South Sudan and Venezuela as developing or fringe or whatever. But beer is a big part of their economies. And a big source of happiness for its populations. As it should be. There will be another national brand that may soon be on the endangered list, but let’s just hope the gap in time is larger than it was for White Bull and Polar.

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