There’s nothing a beer lover likes more than having an ice-cold bottle (or can) of their favourite brew in hand. In fact, there are numerous active web threads devoted to the topic of: ‘what’s the craziest thing you’ve done to get your beer?’
By popular consensus, travelling to a far-off place is considered the most unusual thing you could do just to get your hands on a beer. Yet, many spontaneous beer-seekers tell stories about how their trips have resulted in unique experiences in beautiful places, unexpected friendships, and outrageous amounts of exotic beer.
Fortunately for beer drinkers everywhere, when it comes to finding a great beer sampling experience outside of the U.S, the options are endless. In fact, the Caribbean is one of the top picks for this activity thanks to its variety of breweries and easy-going atmosphere. You can lounge all day on a quiet, tucked away beach with a cooler full of great beers and even better company, or find a lively bar where you can indulge with others.
No matter which island you choose to visit, you’re bound to find some worthwhile beer options! Keep reading to hear about the most popular local beers you’ll find in the Caribbean.
Beer was introduced to the Caribbean by the British in 1880, and the brews produced by each island are unique. So, the answer to this question will vary widely depending on who you ask. While every Caribbean island does not make its own beer, the region maintains a friendly rivalry, and each island features its beers prominently at local and regional events, like carnivals, year-round.
There can even be competition between beer brands brewed on the same island! Most resorts give guests the awesome opportunity to try out the best local beers, without having to venture off property. At Sandals’ resorts in Barbados, guests even get to enjoy a craft beer bar which serves 19 different brands of beer from across the globe! The best part? It’s all included in the price of your stay, so you can try them all!
Picture: At Sandals Royal Barbados, you will get a mega-trip that includes two resorts for the price of one. Experience 20 restaurants, 11 bars, and every amenity at both resorts, including the rooftop pool, bowling alley and craft beer garden!
You’re unlikely to have a bad beer tasting experience in the Caribbean because beer drinking and having a great time are part of the culture. Even if the island you’re visiting doesn’t have its own beer, you will probably be able to try the more common beers from other parts of the region. Red Stripe and Presidente, for example, can often be found on other islands.
If you’re in the midst of planning a beer-seeking getaway and not sure where to start, fret not. We’ve listed some of the most popular beers produced in the Caribbean, so you can get a head start!
Wadadli brewed by the Antigua Brewery Ltd. is a fresh, fizzy, “bready” brew with undertones that even seasoned beer drinkers describe as surprising. It is simple, appetising, and is one of the more popular lagers of the Caribbean. Not surprisingly, Wadadli is the official beer of Antigua and promotes itself with the name that was originally bestowed on the island by its indigenous inhabitants. Overall, it's a great choice of beer to indulge in while holidaying in Antigua (hopefully, all-inclusive style at a fabulous resort such as Sandals Grande Antigua).
Let your Caribbean beer exploration take flight in Aruba by introducing yourself to Balashi, the national beer. This all-malt pilsner beer is frequently promoted as being a “true taste of the Caribbean” and is indeed a good ‘hot weather beer’. Balashi is made from distilled Aruban water, which adds to its crispness. This brew is produced by the Balashi Brewery in Oranjestad, and it has won multiple awards including the Gold award in the Monde Selection in Brussels in 2001, and the Grand Gold award in the same competition in 2004.
Ask its creators and they’ll tell you: Bao Palo isn’t just the name of a beer; it’s part of Aruban culture. Bao Palo is produced by the island’s nano-brewery, Fireson, which has ambitious beginnings. It was envisioned and brought to life by chemical engineer Antonius “Tony” van Vuurden, who pursued his passion for craft beer after studying in The Netherlands. Bao Palo is the flagship beer of this brewery, which creates brews that are free from preservatives. It is light, fresh, and a bit on the fruity side. Overall, this producer has done well as the first local craft beer producer in Aruba.
Banks Beer is the national beer of both Barbados and Guyana. It is produced by Banks (Barbados) Breweries Ltd., which also makes other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Banks is a premier style lager, and it has won many international awards, including Monde Selection. Banks is a simple, no-frills pilsner lager that you’ll appreciate most as you lounge on sunny Barbadian shores, explore the culture and history of the island, or indulge in an all-inclusive experience at Sandals Barbados. Banks Beer is also available in amber, stout, and light variations.
Kalik is by far the most popular beer in the Bahamas. It is brewed by the Commonwealth Brewery in Nassau, Bahamas. The name of this beer is derived from Junkanoo, which is an annual celebration that typically features traditional musical instruments like goatskin drums and the cowbell. The name Kalik (pronounced Kuh-Lick) is said to reflect the sound of the cowbells. Kalik dominates about half of the beer market share in the Bahamas. The brand has also won several gold medals from Monde Selection. Tastewise, Kalik can best be described as light and crisp, with just enough flavour. Try the gold version of Kalik for a slightly bigger kick, and 7 percent alcohol.
Sands has firmly secured its place in the Bahamian beer market. Brewed by Bahamian Brewery and Beverage, it is a top choice for both locals and visitors to the island. With 5.2 percent alcohol, Sands is smooth yet full-bodied, with vivid flavours and mild bitterness. It tastes like it was specially created to be sipped on a hot day at the beach – and stunning beaches are in no short supply in the Bahamas. Bahamian Brewery and Beverage also brews Sands Light, Strong Back Stout, and High Rock premium lager.
Pirate Republic Brewing Company is The Bahamas’ first production craft brewery. The company has five core brands of pirate-themed craft beers and a number of seasonal brews. Its most popular formula, an American-style IPA beer called Take No Quarters, is a great representation of what this Bahamian craft beer brand has to offer. With 7.2 percent alcohol, the amber-coloured brew is medium-bodied and strong without being overly bitter. Any well-practised beer drinker will appreciate the tropical elements of citrus, pineapple, and grapefruit in this mildly aromatic beer. Perfect for a lazy afternoon on white-sand shores.
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The name Belikin translates to “road to the east” and shows the connection between Mayan and Belizean heritage. Belikin is available in lager and stout versions, and it is a top-rated, domestically produced beer in Belize. It has been around since 1969, well before the independence of Belize in 1981. Belikin is a pale, European-style lager. It is on the simple side, but still refreshing. This brew is a good one to have in hand while exploring the Belizean rainforests, or relaxing beachside.
Seasoned beer drinkers will appreciate the hints of lime that hit their palates as they try Bonaire Blond for the first time. In this brew, the spiciness from local aloe vera collides with mild grapefruit, amid more traditional beer flavours like barley malt. Bonaire Blond brewed by House of Bonaire Blond is aged for at least 4 weeks, longer than other blonds. The result is refreshing, with a burst of flavour, and just about 4.5 percent alcohol.
The British-style microbrewery Dockyard Brewing Co. produces eight varieties of beer and ales. Their beers are made using Bermuda rainwater and “a whole lotta love.” Varieties of handcrafted beers you can try from this brewery include Whale of Wheat, St. David’s Lager, Somers Amber Ale, Trunk Island Pale Ale, Black Anchor Porter, Bermuda Triangle Stout, Mystery Brew, and the Brewmaster’s Seasonal. If you’re interested in trying more than one of these brews while in Bermuda, a sampler is available. Beer tastings can also be scheduled at the Dockyard for groups of 10 or more, inclusive of a five-course menu for pairing.
Caybrew is easily the most prominent beer in the Cayman Islands. Brewed by the Cayman Islands Brewery, this European-style pale lager is full and crisp. Some describe it as the perfect balance between light-bodied and full flavour. Amid the strong flavours are milder traces, like that of vanilla. Crisp and a bit grainy, Caybrew quenches your thirst while making you crave more at the same time. If you try this beer while in the Cayman Islands, you may also want to try Caybrew Premium Light, Ironshore Bock, and White Tip Lager, also produced by the Cayman Islands Brewery.
Light, crisp, and clean… this describes Bucanero Fuerte in a nutshell. Bucanero is the stronger side of the spectrum, with 5.4 percent alcohol. This is a classic Cuban lager beer, and it is brewed in Holguin by Cerveceria Bucanero S.A. (CBSA). Bucanero is well-balanced and more flavourful than some of the other Cuban brands. It is light, but its brewers are skillful enough not to make it too watery. It’s also semi-sweet with a light grain aroma. Bucanero can be a great introduction to the Cuban world of beer.
Amstel Bright is first set apart by its production. It is made using desalinated seawater. Of course, you’d never guess this beer had anything to do with the ocean as you sipped on an ice-cold one on the charming island of Curaçao. Amstel Bright is a combination of sweet and bready, and it has about 5 percent alcohol. This brew is produced in the Netherlands and shipped to Curaçao, where it is touted as the number one beer.
Brion beer was launched in 2013, and though it is sold in Curaçao, it is brewed at Banks Breweries Limited, in Christ Church, Barbados. This pilsner beer is exclusively brewed for Curaçao, and it is named after Admiral Luis Brion, a Curaçao freedom fighter and human rights advocate who fought many battles alongside Simon Bolivar (The Liberator) of Latin America. Brion has about 4.5 percent alcohol and it is worth trying while in Curaçao.
Kubuli has a heavy taste, but it’s quite stimulating to the palate. It is an invigorating beer you’ll want to have in your hand after a day of river tubing or visiting the hot springs in Dominica. Kubuli is a light, German-style lager made with spring water straight off the land. The award-winning Kubuli is the official beer of the island, and a great brand to have on hand while exploring the natural beauty of this island. Kubuli is brewed by Dominica Brewery and Beverages Ltd.
Often described as “smooth”, “refreshing”, and “lively”, there’s nothing quite like a well-chilled Presidente. Presidente is a pilsner beer, and it is the official beer of the Dominican Republic. It is owned and produced by Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (CND), and is also the most exported beer of its type in the Caribbean. This is great news if you’d prefer not to make a special trip to the Dominican Republic just to try it out. If you do though, you can search for other beer varieties as well, like Bohemia Especial, The One, Quisqueya, and Presidente Light.
Carib Beer is mainly brewed at the Carib Brewery in Trinidad and Tobago. Two versions are available, Carib Lager – balanced, full-bodied, and smooth, and Carib Light – satisfying, refreshing, and crisp. The main difference between the two is the alcohol content, with Carib Light being on the lower end at 4 percent alcohol. Carib Beers are sold in many islands around the Caribbean, including Grenada where it is also brewed at Grenada Breweries Limited.
Insider tip: For the best opportunity to taste test beers and local rums in Grenada, consider staying at an all-inclusive resort like Sandals Grenada which has 6 bars, and unlimited gourmet dining at 10 restaurants!
The bottle may steal your attention long before you sip on this brew, with its bright green colour and pirate theme. Once you taste it, however, you’re bound to appreciate the uniqueness of this brew which has a citrus flavour and a bitter herbal undertone. Corsaire Biѐre is the national beer of Guadeloupe, and it is a must-try for visitors to the island.
Haiti’s Prestige Beer is the most popular brand sold on the island. It is an award-winning brew since winning gold in the World Beer Cup in 2000. This glass-bottled beer is on the heavier side, and it is dark brown with a malty flavour. It is an American-style lager and is exported to several places in the US. In Haiti, Prestige has managed to secure as much as 98 percent of the market share, which means you won’t have a hard time finding it if you choose to visit the island.
Red Stripe scarcely needs an introduction. It goes hand-in-hand with the hottest music and rum promotions of the Caribbean and is known as the “taste of Jamaica”. Brewed by Desnoes & Geddes in Kingston, Jamaica, Red Stripe is a pale, full-bodied lager, which has a slightly sweet flavour. Red Stripe has international appeal and it’s popular in the US, the UK, and many other regions. Though you can pick up Red Stripe outside of Jamaica, the authentic taste of the brew is only truly revealed while you’re basking in Jamaican sunshine. Red Stripe Light is also available.
Insider tip: In addition to sipping on a Red Stripe, there are many amazing things to do when you visit the beautiful island of Jamaica. Do many as you like on your Caribbean beer tasting adventure!
Biѐre Lorraine is more than enough of a reason to head to Martinique, but of course, you’ll love the amazing culture and lifestyle of this French island as well. Biѐre Lorraine is light with a mildly floral aroma. Some people describe the taste as “grainy”, or a bit like “wet grass”, with a bitter aftertaste. There are some great reviews for this Martinique-brewed beer, though many agree it’s a bit of an acquired taste. Biѐre Lorraine can be found at most bars on the French island.
Corona Extra is one of the top-selling beers in the world, and it is produced by Cervecería Modelo in Mexico. This pale lager is owned by AB InBev in Belgium, and it has around 4.5 percent alcohol content. Corona is an international beer, so it’s popular at American bars. Still, a trip to Mexico is a great opportunity to try Corona Extra at its most authentic, whether you’re touching down at a cruise port in Cozumel or Costa Maya, or staying a little longer in areas like Cancun or Mexico City.
Medalla Light calls to beer enthusiasts who love beers so carbonated they could almost be mistaken for a glass of chilled bubbly. Brewed in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Medalla Light is a pale golden lager that flies off the shelves everywhere. It can be found in most parts of Puerto Rico, and some would go as far as saying Medalla symbolises “all things Puerto Rican”. The name Medalla translates to “medal”, which pays tribute to the 1979 Pan Am Games held in Puerto Rico, the year this brew was launched. While in Puerto Rico, you can also try the Silver Key and Magna beers which are produced by the same company, Compañía Cervecera de Puerto Rico.
Piton Beer is highly promoted in Saint Lucia and beyond, and it is named after the Piton Mountains, a World Heritage Site in Saint Lucia. Notably, Piton is an American Adjunct Lager brewed and bottled in Saint Lucia by Windward & Leeward Brewing Limited (WLBL). Heineken, Guinness, and Strongbow cider are also brewed by WLBL. While in Saint Lucia, join the Piton challenge and climb one of the twin peaks. The goal once at the top is to take a photo at the summit with a Piton beer in hand to remind you of the incredibly amazing experience!
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Skol beer is perfect for the beer drinker who isn’t hardcore but still wants to enjoy a good beer. It is light and lemony with low alcohol content. Skol is the national beer of Saint Kitts & Nevis (SKN), and it is brewed by Carib Brewery, which also produces Carib. Unlike many Caribbean beer brands, Skol is known internationally, and you can pick it up in many countries outside of SKN, including Brazil and Scandinavia. Even with its wide reach and high demand, many agree that Skol beer is just better in Saint Kitts!
There’s something about Stag beer that’ll make you feel like the king or queen of your castle. It is promoted as a “man’s beer”, but we’re pretty sure women will love it too. You’ll enjoy sipping on this full, green bottle ‘malty’ lager while in Saint Kitts. Thankfully it lives up to the hype!
Established in October 2017, Pelikaan Brewery produces craft beer, ale, pale ale, India pale ale (IPA), wheat beer, porter, and more. According to the brewers, “our creativity has no limit, we design our beer with passion and quality.” That passion is well reflected in Mullet Bay, a blond beer that is “smoothly bitter and refreshing”. Mullet Bay is one of the more popular beers on the brewery’s line. Local ingredients are at the heart of this brew, including coconut, mango, and other fruits. Interestingly, this brewery started with some friends making beer for their personal enjoyment before deciding to go commercial. Their risk seems to have paid off!
While in Saint Thomas, start off with this Belgian-style summer ale which has a touch of spiciness. Interestingly, seawater is the foundation of this brew. The water goes through an extreme process called reverse osmosis, a treatment that is very detailed and helps ensure a high-quality product and the amazing taste many people enjoy. Frenchtown Brewing Company is the creator of this brew, and they also have other craft beers which are sold from the tap at the brewery, and at bars and restaurants around the island.
The purity of the water in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) translates into Hairoun, a product promoted by Saint Vincent Brewery since 1985. Hairoun is a refreshing lager beer, and it is the national beer of SVG. It is best described as smooth and crisp, and consuming it at the right temperature is key to a satisfying taste test – if overchilled the flavour can be lost. Particularly around carnival time (Vincy Mas) in early July, you’ll see this beer in the hands of many during parties leading up to the grand parade, and at restaurants and bars around the island. Hairoun is a great pick if you’re planning on packing up a cooler and spending the day in the Tobago Cays!
Best described as full-bodied and refreshing, Carib is a lager beer that is best served cold. It has about 5 percent alcohol, and it is sold on many islands in the Caribbean. In Trinidad, Carib is considered the official beer of the island, and as such, it is a go-to for both locals and visitors. Carib has been bottled since the 1950s, and it is manufactured by Carib Breweries. This Brewery also produces Shandy, Mackeson, Guinness, Malta Carib, Stag, and other selections.
Stag is a “man’s beer”, with about 5.4 percent alcohol. It is a European-style lager that is described as “distinct and robust with a lingering but gentle aftertaste”. Stag is brewed and bottled by the Carib Brewery in Trinidad, and it is certainly for the man (or anyone), who exudes confidence and has an appreciation for a well-marketed Caribbean lager.
You might find yourself being extra honest while sipping on this beer, the name of which literally translates to “I’m not going to lie”. I-Aint-Ga-Lie has been described as delicate and “beachy”, so it’s definitely a good choice for lounging poolside or on one of the stunning beaches in the Turks & Caicos Islands, like Grace Bay Beach off the northeast coast of Providenciales. With just 4.8 percent alcohol, this lager is light and smooth, and it’s produced by Turks Head Brewery.
There’s nothing quite like a cold refreshing beer, especially after soaking up some Caribbean sun. Enjoy Amstel Bright after exploring the exotic marine ecosystems of Curaçao or celebrate with a Red Stripe after climbing to the top of Dunn’s River Falls. No matter which Caribbean island you choose, you’re sure to find some great beer options to experience and take home with you.
True enjoyment of the most popular beers in the Caribbean can only be achieved if all your other needs are taken care of. By staying at all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, you will set yourself up for a worry-free visit to paradise. Sandals Resorts give you the benefit of enjoying a luxurious escape on any one of eight gorgeous Caribbean islands. Local beers will even be stocked in your room - free of charge, giving you a head start on your beer tasting adventure.
Expert tip: Can’t decide where to start your journey to discover the best beers in the Caribbean? Check out the complete guide on which Sandals Resort is best for you!