Beach Beer: The Caribbean’s Craft Beer Scene is Growing

Drink Features The Caribbean
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The Caribbean is known for its post-card-worthy moments, with bold sunsets over pristine white, pink, or, yes, even black, sand beaches. But Caribbean people, like the rest of the world, feel the need to unwind (or “lime”) at the end of the work week, or work day, often with a locally-brewed beer. You can’t go wrong with a Red Stripe or a Carib, as our own informal polling among Caribbean beer drinkers revealed, but there are more options now than ever, thanks to a growing craft beer culture on the islands.

Take 10 Saints. Saints, not cents, complete with the halo over the “O,” and not because the Caribbean, home of calypso and Carnival, appreciates a bit of creative irreverence, but as a sort of calling card for the country where the beer is brewed, Barbados. The name is a tip of the bottle to the fact that 10 of the country’s 11 parishes are named for saints. 10 Saints is a specialty beer with a growing regional and international market that strikes certain historical and flavorful notes. Barbados was the first sugar producing island in the former British colonies, playing a central role in the dominance of sugar; As such 10 Saints is aged, for up to 90 days, in rum casks from the world’s oldest distillery. This gives the micro-brew certain “oak and rum notes” that make, according to one Bajan Saints lover, for “a nice finish.”

Newer still, is Antigua’s Lazy Bones. One vendor described it for a first-time drinker as having a flavor similar to a British ale. But Lazy Bones prides itself on being, “the only real beer Made in Antigua.” It may be new to the market compared to the elder Wadadli – a pale lager manufactured since 1993 and packaged in a green-hued bottle much like the Hairouns (St. Vincent), Kubulis (Dominica), even Heinekens (popular import) of the world – but it’s clearly marking its territory and positioning itself, as its name suggests, as a lifestyle beer—a beer for those seeking a laid back “lime.”

There’s almost always a popular local-brewed brand, from Prestige in Haiti to Presidente, the flagship export of Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana in the Dominican Republic. President has been around since 1935 and a popular choice across the Caribbean to this day. So, if you ask a local for his or her favorite beer, the response will likely depend on your location; There is island pride to defend after all.

That said; some Caribbean beer brands know no location. You know them already, but as they were the most popular choices in polling, we would be remiss not to speak on two of the biggest Caribbean exports – Carib and Red Stripe. Most respondents described the sunrise gold brew in the clear bottle (Carib) as “refreshing,” make that “very refreshing” – which is what you want in a beer, really, in the island heat. There’s also a light version and sorrel, ginger and lime Shandy variations of the brand brewed in Trinidad since 1950. Red Stripe, the elder lager in the distinctive brown and stout bottle has been manufactured in Jamaica since 1938. “It’s the richest in flavor,” one respondent said.

The beauty of all these options, of course, is that you get to make up your own mind, one mouthful, one beer, one island at a time.