EKU – e’ KU
EKU, I would say, became my staple. It was consistently available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and had a good strong taste. Unlike Piton and Carib, whose tastes varied from good to piss, and sometimes had a flat taste, EKU was always refreshing and consistently tasted good.
It had a green bottle, which seemed to keep the beer better and had a stylish label, so it didn’t look like you were drinking cheap crap. It also came in both 12 oz. bottle as well as ponies. While I had ponies on the boat, I always got 12 oz. bottles at the bars, which pleased me, because if I am paying for a beer at a bar, I expect 12 oz. at least, 16 is even better. It is brewed in Germany.
HAIROUN – Hi’ roon
This St. Vincent specialty was quite a treat; it ranked quite closely with EKU. It was also consistently available in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and taste was right up there with EKU.
The reason it is second on the list is mainly because it had a cheap looking label. This shouldn’t matter, but when the competition is so close, I have to pick a favorite. There is a good feeling though, when drinking a Hairoun down there, because you really are drinking a local product that you probably couldn’t find anywhere else.
The other problem is pronouncing the name. The vocally challenged people such as myself were constantly embarrassing themselves in front of the locals trying to pronounce this beer correctly, hence the alias Heroin. There is nothing worse than trying to fit in and not act like a complete tourist in somebody else’s country, and then not to even be able to pronounce the name of their local beer.
This I only saw in 12 oz. bottles. Hairoun also makes a great Ginger Ale, Bitter Lemon (more sweet then bitter), sparkling water, and so many other fine bevies, I can’t name them all. I also learned that Hairoun is what the islanders used to call St. Vincent before the Europeans arrived.
CARIB – Kar’ ib
Probably the most famous of all West Indies beers; it varied a lot depending on where you got it. It came in clear bottles, brown bottles, cans, and draft. I never tried cans, but had all the rest.
This seemed to be the only beer available everywhere we went. It was never my first choice. It varied too much; if the bar or restaurant had EKU or Hairoun, I would have that first. It had a nice label, and again, you were drinking something local.
I had Carib in the states, and while I didn’t find it bad, I had the same attitude about it there as here. If something I like better is available, I always drank that. I never tried the cans, even though they seemed to be littering the ground everywhere we went. I am a bottle man at heart.
I had both the clear and the brown bottle Carib, and that I found is where the real difference was. The clear Caribs seem to occasionally have to flat taste that beers in the colored bottles don’t get. I never saw Carib ponies. The Carib brewery also brews all the Heineken and Guinness you see on the islands.
Check out their website at www.caribbeer.com – they have a number of other products which I was unable to find (must have gone to the wrong places).
I had Carib Draft a lot in Grenada, and I never had a bad one. They don’t drink a lot of draft beer down there, which is probably because it goes flat fast because there is not a lot of cool storage. The draft I had was great, ice cold and very refreshing. There is something about a really good draft beer that lacks in bottles and cans. Down there, the draft had that good draft taste. But draft is always a little chancy, and I would not try a second one if the first one wasn’t good.
CARIB Brown Bottle
This I only ran into in Grenada, and it was great. Most likely would have been one of the favorites if all Carib came like this. But it doesn’t as most of the stuff that I saw was in the clear bottle.
CARIB Clear Bottle
Unfortunately most of the Carib I found was in the clear bottle. It’s not that it was bad, just not as good as others. When the beer selection is so limited, it is good to stay with what you know is good. Carib wasn’t always good to me. The difference between the beers down there is not huge, but Carib slipped down the scale for being inconsistent. If you do run across Carib in the States, it usually comes in a clear bottle with a painted-on label.
PITON – Pe’ton’
This is a St. Lucian product, and I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else but there. I must say before the last day, when I made the critical mistake of trying a Piton Shandy, I really liked this beer. But then in the airport at Castries, I had to try it; the Shandy, Beer and Ginger, not a good mix. At times, it wanted to be a ginger ale and it never really made a good attempt at being a beer. Two sips of that and a dead soldier was left to be viewed as evidence of my stupid mistake.
Piton (the beer) though is quite satisfactory. It has a slick label with an outline of what else but the Pitons themselves, in all their glory. But this beer got bad marks for being in a clear bottle, good marks for never being seen in pony sizes. Piton also had a Piton Light, which I tried. And though it tasted good, I cannot give an accurate review of it because I had already had numerous other beers before I had my one Piton Light (which I actually ended up spilling while tying up the dingy when we got back to the boat).
RED STRIPE – I hope you don’t need help with this one
From Jamaica, this beer, like Carib, is a Caribbean staple. It’s good, but being from Jamaica and so readily available in the States, I tried to avoid it.
It does get good marks for many things though. The shape of the bottle is cool, as is the painted-on label. I don’t think the people at Red Stripe would ever cheapen their product by putting it in ponies either. But I had Red Stripe many times before, so it was nothing new.
HEINEKEN – you do drink beer don’t you
Now I bought Heineken because the Captain enjoys it, but otherwise there is nothing new here. Don Street used to drink Heineken all the time and used to say that the only good Heineken is brewed in Holland, but down there they brew it all over the place (St. Lucia and Grenada to name a few) so to find “real” Heineken is impossible.
Not to mention, I only saw Heineken down there in ponies, which is a sin unto itself.
GUINNESS – G in ‘ness
Now I like a good Guinness, and having lived in Boston for five years now, I better. But in the Caribbean, with all the choices, I would choose anything but Guinness. All that heat and the thickness of Guinness don’t mix well. Now back in Boston, I enjoy a pint regularly, but when down there, I will take the local brew any day.
POLAR – Lambi Beer
This is the only canned beer I had down there. The real key to Polar is to drink it COLD. The minute the temperature raised, it crossed the line between drinkable beer and just plain bad. It is nicknamed Lambi Beer, because it was only found at Lambi’s Grocery on Union Island, no one else dared to stock it.
This was a bold move on my part to pick up a case of this beer, and most likely it would still be on the boat if not for some quick Boat Boy pay-offs, and my ability to get through even the worst of beers. I shall not try this again, because I like to really enjoy drinking my beers, and that is a lot harder when that beer is a Polar.
This beer did serve its purpose though. Coming into an anchorage, when a Boat Boy was trying to give help where he wasn’t needed, or sell us something not wanted, I gave him a Polar for his trouble. This served many purposes: 1) It saved the good beers for us, 2) It made the Boat Boy happy, and 3) It prevented some $EC from leaving our pockets. Afterward when the same Boat Boy would try to sell us something, we could politely send him on his way. He left feeling good because at least he had gotten a beer from us, and we felt good by getting rid of a beer the was somewhat painful to drink. I hope he still felt good after he opened the beer. I would give it to him ice cold, so I hope he drank it right away. Polar should not to be confused with Pola which is a light beer brewed by Carib.
MACKESON STOUT – Mac ‘i son
Mackeson XXX is brewed locally under license from Whitbread Beer Company of England. This stout is hailed as being just right in taste; that is, not too sweet, not too bitter, yet delivering three times the pleasure, as indicated by its three men logo. I did not find this true. I like all beers, but this beer I found myself unable to stomach. Only if you truly like bad English beer should you attempt to drink it.
One response to “Reviewing the Beers of the Windward islands”
10 year old article, but looks like you got them all. Good review, although I think you were too lenient with a few of them.
Hope you’re still in good health and enjoy a good beer every so often.