Three Horses Beer

Last updated

Three Horses Beer (THB)
THB 33ml.jpg
Type Pilsner
ManufacturerStar Breweries of Madagascar
Country of originMadagascar
Introduced1958 (1958)
Alcohol by volume 5.4%
VariantsTHB Special (6.2%), THB Lite (1%), THB Fresh (1%)
Website Official website (in French)

Three Horses Beer (better known locally as THB) is a pale lager that has been brewed by Star Breweries of Madagascar since 1958. It is the highest selling beer in Madagascar and has been described as emblematic of the country. THB is sold nationwide and since 2005 has been exported to such markets as France, Reunion Island, Comoros and Mayotte. The Malagasy beer is produced at two breweries in Madagascar, the first centrally located in Antsirabe and the other in the northern city of Antsiranana. THB Pilsener, the most common variant of THB, has a light taste and is produced from mostly local barley, corn and hops. Star Breweries also produces THB Fresh (a shandy with less than 1% alcohol), THB Special (6.2% alcohol), and THB Lite (1% alcohol). Recent investments in Star Brewery infrastructure have allowed a 20% increase in production since 2011.


After advertising alcohol in the media was banned under former President Marc Ravalomanana, Star Breweries has increasingly promoted THB through unconventional means. These have included sponsoring the THB Champions League, Madagascar's national football championship, and holding annual beer festivals. In addition, THB is a regular sponsor of local musicians through major annual festivals and tours. Star Breweries has also hired musicians to perform in music videos specifically created to promote the beer. In 2014 the THB label was significantly redesigned, and in 2015 a new slogan, "THB eo foana e!" ("THB always!") was promoted alongside the beer's longstanding trademark Soa Ny Fiarahantsika ("The Pleasure of Being Together"). The beer is regularly promoted by Malagasy musical stars and other public figures.


In 1953 the French company Rochefortaise launched Société Tananarivienne d’Articles Réfrigérés (STAR) (Antananarivo Company of Refrigerated Products) and its associated factory in Antananarivo, Madagascar, for the exclusive production and distribution of Coca-Cola in Madagascar. [1] In 1957, a brewer was recruited to develop a local beer. After developing 17 different recipes, he travelled throughout the island to test each one using primarily local ingredient; the best of these was a pilsener chosen as the recipe to be produced at a Star brewery to be established in Antsirabe. [2] The company first began producing Three Horses Beer (THB) in 1958. [1]

In 1968 Star Breweries opened a factory in Antsiranana for the production and distribution of THB as well as Coca-Cola and other carbonated beverages throughout the island's northern region. In 1980, Star Breweries became partly state owned; in 1989 Rochefortaise sold Star Breweries to Groupe Fraise, and the company obtained fully privatized status one year later. In 2005, the production of THB in cans began at the Star brewery in Antsirabe. [1] In 2011 Groupe Fraise sold Star Breweries to French brewer Castel. [3]


In the Malagasy market, THB Pilsener remains the most popular Malagasy brand of beer, and the most popular of any brand of beer sold in Madagascar. [4] It is estimated that four liters per person are sold each year in Madagascar. THB has been described as an "emblem" of the country [5] and a "national symbol". [2] One Malagasy journalist described THB as symbolic of Fihavanana Malagasy, a cultural value that emphasizes the importance of brotherhood and friendship. [6]

THB won its first international award in 1980 with a gold medal, at the International Beverage Competitions, in Vienna. Then later in 2004, came another gold medal at the Monde Sélection de Bruxelles (International Beverage Competition in Brussels, Belgium). [7] In 2010, THB Pilsener was again recognized at this event, receiving the silver medal. [6] THB Pilsener won a gold medal at the same competition in 2012, [4] and the silver medal in 2015. [8] THB Fresh also won a gold medal at the Monde Sélection de Bruxelles in 2012. [9] More recently, THB Pilsner won another gold medal in 2016 at the "Monde Selection de Bruxelles". [10]


Pilsener label prior to 2014 THB Pilsener.JPG
Pilsener label prior to 2014

THB Pilsener, the oldest and most popular THB beer, is a 5.4% abv pale lager light in color with a medium body, thin head and balanced, mildly bitter flavor. [11] THB Pilsener is sold in two sizes of returnable brown bottles: 33 centilitres (12 imp fl oz; 11 US fl oz) and 65 centilitres (23 imp fl oz; 22 US fl oz). The pilsener is also sold in 33 centilitres (12 imp fl oz; 11 US fl oz) and 50 centilitres (18 imp fl oz; 17 US fl oz) aluminum cans, [4] and has been available on tap at commercial establishments in Madagascar since 2006. [12] Star Breweries also produces THB Fresh, a shandy (locally called panaché), with less than 1% alcohol. It is only sold in 65 centilitres (23 imp fl oz; 22 US fl oz) glass bottles. [9] The original Fresh shandy, which has a lemon taste, has also temporarily been offered in several other flavors, including mint, raspberry and apple. [13] Other variants include THB Special, with 6.2% alcohol, [14] and THB Lite, a low alcohol beer (1%). [12]

THB is produced in two breweries in Madagascar: the original brewery, located in Antsirabe, and a second in Antsiranana. [5] Since its inception, THB has been sold in glass bottles tinted brown to protect the contents from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. [2] The Antsirabe factory produces 100 million bottles [15] and 100,000 cans of THB per year. [16] Antsirabe was selected for the original brewery because the water there is low in calcium and other minerals, lending itself well to beer production. [2] Ingredients for the production of THB are sourced throughout the island. Barley grown in nearby Betafo and Fianarantsoa is blended with corn and hops from Toliara to produce the beer. [3] Over 2,500 tonnes of malt and 3,500 tonnes of corn are grown annually in the surrounding Vakinankaratra region for the production of THB. [15] The MALTO collective of 7,000 farmers was formed around 1980 in Antsirabe to grow barley and transform it into malt for Star Breweries beer production. Certain special malts are used to produce variants on the original THB recipe, such as THB Special. [14]

Fermentation of THB beer requires approximately eight hours for each mash of 130 hectoliters. The mash is a blend of malt (sprouted barley) and corn in an 80/20 ratio to which water and hops are added. The mash is heated in a vat for around two hours to support fermentation. The product is filtered and then heated to 100 degrees Celsius to concentrate and sterilize it. The beer is then decanted and cooled for an hour at 10 degrees Celsius. Finally, a type of mushroom is added as a leavening and fermenting agent; the beer is allowed to ferment for a full week, and excess carbon dioxide produced by the process is collected for the production of soft drinks and other carbonated beverages at the factory. The beer is allowed to rest in vats for several more days before being filtered once more and then bottled and pasteurized at 62 degrees Celsius for three minutes. The automated bottling process yields crates of THB that are ready for shipment to regional wholesale distribution points. [14]

Star Breweries invested over four million euros into improving its factories in the 2009-11 period, resulting in a 20% increase in production capacity. These improvements included refurbishing the production line equipment, including higher performing mixers and belts and a new bottle conveyor system. The Coca-Cola Company issued international HACCP certification to Star Breweries in 2010, confirming its adherence to international quality standards in beverage production. In 2011, Coca-Cola also awarded Star Breweries the Gold Medal among 27 competing African countries for the company's standards of quality and environmental protection in the production of its beer and other beverages. [14] Frequent brownouts resulting from the overtaxed national power grid produce power cuts to the THB breweries that have negatively affected the volume and cost effectiveness of production since the early 2000s. [16]


Star Breweries distributes THB through a network of regional wholesalers, who provide the product to local vendors. Orders are typically sent to the factories on a weekly basis and are filled within two weeks. [14] In 2005 [6] Star Breweries shifted manufacturing of THB in aluminum cans from Mauritius [16] to Antsirabe in order to export the beer to international markets with high Malagasy expatriate populations, including France, Reunion Island, Comoros and Mayotte. [17] All exported THB beer was packaged in aluminum cans manufactured at the Antsirabe brewery; canned THB was also made available alongside the traditional glass bottles in markets in Madagascar that same year. [6] In 2006 the Star Brewery, which employs 1,500 staff, was producing 700,000 hectoliters of beer annually out of the total market share of 800,000; 550,000 hectoliters were produced at the Antsirabe Star Brewery alone. [5] The Antsiranana factory employs 140 staff and produced 180,000 hectoliters of beer (24 million bottles) in 2010. [14]


THB Fresh was exempted from President Marc Ravalomanana's ban on media advertisement of alcoholic beverages. Madagaskar 2008-03-19 THB.JPG
THB Fresh was exempted from President Marc Ravalomanana's ban on media advertisement of alcoholic beverages.

To create the original label for THB, Star Breweries opted to copy an existing label for a Dutch beer brand called The Holland Beer, which featured the image of three horses. This was done in part because of the association between Antsirabe and its history of horse breeding; the brand took the name Three Horses Beer based on this design. The label also features the brand's slogan, Soa Ny Fiarahantsika ("The Pleasure of Being Together"). The labels were originally printed in the Netherlands and shipped to Madagascar before eventually being produced on the local market; THB coasters continue to be produced in Europe. [2] The bottle color and shape and its label have undergone adjustments over time. In 2005, the label was enlarged and the colors brightened. The band around the neck of the bottle was also broadened with the addition of the image of a medal, in honor of the beer's first international award in 2004. [7] A new logo was adopted for the canned THB before being expanded in 2014 to the 33 cl bottled THB. The new logo features three stylized, outlined white horses, now facing right to represent a focus on the future. Red remains the predominant color. [11]

Advertising alcohol on television and in the press was outlawed under president Marc Ravalomanana. In order to maximize brand recognition of THB, the company altered the label for its Fresh shandy, which was exempt from this ban due to its low alcohol content, to match the THB Pilsener design but using a green background instead of the pilsener's red. [2] The pilsener is advertised in a variety of non-traditional ways, such as through celebrity promotion in music videos and music and sporting event sponsorship. THB is considered by the public as a promoter of Malagasy culture and identity, particularly through its sponsorship of its annual THB Tour traveling music festival and the THB fête de la bière (beer festival). [18] Three Horses Beer sponsors the THB Champions League, the national football championship. [19] Many popular musical artists have advertised THB, including superstars Jerry Marcoss, AmbondronA, Samoëla, [20] Tsiliva, Tence Mena [21] and Jaojoby. [22]

THB launched its first website in 2008. [23] In 2015, in honor of the 55th anniversary of national independence, Star Breweries launched a new campaign to promote the beer. The company announced a new slogan, "THB eo foana e!" (THB always!) to be promoted alongside its historic slogan. A song by the same name, written and performed by BIG MJ and the group Tambour Gasy, and an accompanying music video, will promote the beer and the new slogan. [22]

Related Research Articles

Duvel Moortgat Brewery Belgian brewery

Duvel Moortgat Brewery is a Flemish family-controlled brewery founded in 1871. Its strong golden pale ale, Duvel, is exported to more than forty countries. Duvel is Brabantian, Ghent and Antwerp dialect for devil, the standard Dutch word being duivel[ˈdœy̯vəl].

Rochefort Brewery

Rochefort Brewery is a Belgian brewery which produces three beers designated as Trappist beers. The brewery is associated with the Rochefort Abbey, which originated in the thirteenth century. The current brewery dates from 1899.

Grupo Modelo company

Grupo Modelo is a large brewery in Mexico that exports beer to most countries of the world. Its export brands include Corona, Modelo, and Pacífico. Grupo Modelo also brews brands intended solely for the domestic Mexican market and has exclusive rights in Mexico for the import and distribution of beer produced by Anheuser-Busch. Until the 1960s, Grupo Modelo used red poppy flowers in its advertising, where almost any image it used had poppy flowers somewhere in the image.

Beer in Africa, especially lager, is produced commercially in most African countries, and varieties of beer are also made by indigenous people. Beer is served in a range of locales, from neighbourhood shebeens to upscale bars. Many countries have standardized beer bottle sizes, which are cleaned and re-used, and so when buying beer at a store often people must pay a deposit on the bottle as well as the price of the beer. An alternative to glass-bottle beers is local beer sold in tetra-pak style paper cartons.


Pivovar Holba a.s. is a brewery situated in Hanušovice. Major owner is a brewer company PMS Přerov a.s. Annual production is over 350 000 hectoliters. The most notable product is Holba Šerák, medium strong beer, named after the nearby mountain. The motto of the brewery is Pure Beer from Mountains.

Brasserie dAchouffe belgian enterprise

The Brasserie d'Achouffe is a Belgian brewery based in Achouffe. It was founded in 1982 by two brothers-in-law, Pierre Gobron and Christian Bauweraerts, as a hobby. In September 2006, the brewery was bought by the brewery group Duvel Moortgat.

Les Sociétés Anonymes des Brasseries du Cameroun is a brewing company in Cameroon. Their offices and main factory are in Douala, with other breweries in Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua, and Yaoundé. Les Brasseries et Glaceries d'Indochine (BGI) owns a 75% share in the company, and Heineken owns 8.8%. Cameroon's president, Paul Biya, is another major shareholder.

Kasteel Cru was a lager brewed in Alsace, France. Kasteel Cru Rose was also brewed in Alsace with a hint of elderflower & elderberry. Kasteel Cru Rose is a fine, crisp lager with a distinct rose-like colour and a clean, sparkling taste.

Beer in Quebec

Quebec beer is the beer brewed in Quebec, Canada, often with ingredients from Quebec itself and generally following the recipes of the French, Belgian and British brewing traditions. Generally, the beers brewed in Quebec differ from those in the rest of North America because of the relative importance of the French and Belgian traditions alongside that of Great Britain. German-type beers are also produced by some breweries.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is a brewery in Dexter, Michigan founded by Ron and Laurie Jeffries in 2004. It operates seven pubs, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales + Kitchen in Dexter, Ann Arbor, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery in Detroit, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery in Grand Rapids, Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant & Brewery in Traverse City, Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery in Royal Oak and Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery in Chicago. Jolly Pumpkin produces a variety of unfiltered and unpasteurized "rustic country" beers. All Jolly Pumpkin beers are vegan friendly.

Licher Brewery brewery in Lich, Germany

Licher is a brewery in Lich, Germany. With 250 employees, the brewery is the largest in Lich. "Licher Beer" has been market leader since 1988 in Hessen and is known to be one of the top 20 beers in the German beer market.

Brasserie Thiriez

Brasserie Thiriez is a small craft brewery located in Esquelbecq, a town in the Arrondissement of Dunkirk in the Nord département, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais région of France, quite close to the Belgian border. It is situated on the grounds that formerly housed the Poitevin farm brewery, which was active and served the local area until 1945. The current brewery was founded in 1996 by Daniel Thiriez, who had become interested in homebrewing as a college student, and later left his career as a "human resources professional for a large supermarket chain" in the interest of reviving the tradition of the small village brewery. It exports beers in Europe, and the USA.

Brasserie de Brunehaut is the trade name for Brunehaut Brewery, located in Rongy-Brunehaut (Hainaut), Wallonia, 80 km south/southwest of Brussels, Belgium, near the French border.

Cara Pils is a brand of beer, as well as a type of caramel malt, used in beer making.

Compañía Cervecera de Nicaragua (CCN) is a Nicaraguan brewery based in Managua, Nicaragua.

Prestige (beer) brand of beer

Prestige is a lager brewed by Brasserie Nationale d'Haïti (BRANA) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It is widely consumed and is the best-selling beer in Haiti with a 98% market share. So far it is the only native beer brand. Prestige beer is available in some parts of the United States and other countries. In 2011, Heineken publicly announced it acquired a controlling interest in BRANA by increasing its ownership from 22.5% to 95%

Beer in France

Most beer sold in France is pilsner lager, mass-produced by major breweries which control over 90% of the market, although there are also traditional beer styles, such as top-fermented Bière de Garde, and a number of microbreweries.

Celtia Tunisian beer

Celtia is a brand of Tunisian beer.


Mützig is a beer brand owned by Heineken and its subsidiaries, and was originally brewed in 1810 by Brasserie Mutzig of Alsace, France. It is now a 5.5% ABV lager available in 65cl and 33cl bottles. It has a full-bodied taste and distinctive packaging, and is the most successful premium, locally brewed beer in Central Africa. Mützig is considered a flagship African brand.

Bertinchamps Brewery

The Bertinchamps brewery, also known as brasserie de la Ferme de Bertinchamps, is a Belgian family-run microbrewery located in Gembloux, in the Belgian province of Namur. It brews three types of beer named Bertinchamps, which are a recognized part of Belgian beer culture. Its primary export markets are Russia, China, Japan, Ireland and France. In April 2017 it made the national news in Belgium for producing 3D-printed chocolate beer bottles.


  1. 1 2 3 "Historique" (in French). Brasseries Star. 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Bière THB Madagascar" (in French). 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  3. 1 2 "Madagascar : la bière THB malgache rachetée par un groupe français" (in French). Afriquinfos. 5 August 2011. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 "THB Pilsener" (in French). Brasseries Star. 2015. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  5. 1 2 3 Marsaud, Olivia (12 July 2008). "THB, star de la bière à Madagascar" (in French). Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "THB Pilsener canette, un produit d'exportation qui a du succès" (in French). Madagascar Services. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  7. 1 2 Andriamiarisoa, Henintsoa (22 March 2005). "Boisson hygiénique - Quand une bière fait peau neuve: La bouteille est la même, mais l'étiquette a subi un lifting" (in French). L'Express de Madagascar. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  8. "Nos produits reconnus pour leur qualite!" (in French). Brasseries Star. 2015. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015.
  9. 1 2 "THB Frresh" (in French). Brasseries Star. 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  11. 1 2 "THB Pils 33cl Nouvelle étiquette" (in French). Sobika. 24 June 2014. Archived from the original on 18 June 2015.
  12. 1 2 Andrianantenaina, Doda (11 June 2006). "Brasseries Star : Lancement de la THB pression" (in French). La Gazette de la Grande Ile. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  13. "The New THB Fresh Flavors" (in French). R1lita. 22 January 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "La production de bière à l'usine Star de Diego Suarez" (in French). La Gazette de la Grande Ile. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  15. 1 2 Andrianantenaina, Doda (4 May 2008). "Début des festivités pour les 50 ans du THB" (in French). L'Express de Madagascar. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  16. 1 2 3 Andrianantenaina, Doda (8 December 2005). "La bière coule à pic sans publicité" (in French). L'Express de Madagascar. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  17. "Production de bière: La Star bien préparée à la concurrence" (in French). Madagascar Tribune. 17 April 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  18. "50 ans de " THB, la re-nommée ": Une marque qui s'est intégrée à la culture malgache" (in French). Madagascar Tribune. 16 February 2008. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  19. Kouamé, Pierre (16 November 2012). "Madagascar/ THB Ligue des champions : Tana domine l'AS Adema" (in French). Star Africa. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  20. "Pari réussi pour THB Tour à Bira" (in French). 7 April 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  21. "Musique – Big Mj part bientôt pour une tournée en Europe" (in French). L'Express de Madagascar. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  22. 1 2 "THB Eo Foana E! La Nouvelle Campagne" (in French). Brasseries Star. 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  23. "Lancement officiel du site web de THB: Bienvenue sur le" (in French). Madagascar Tribune. 18 April 2008. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)