A Craft Beer Aruba Beer Guide
I used to poke fun at tourists who would complain about local beer when traveling. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “I love going to the Caribbean, but the beer… Can’t they just serve Coors Light?” Statements like that would to get my blood boiling. If you’re that married to your precious domestic cans and can’t taste the local flavors, then go to Florida. They have beaches, sunshine, and all the fizzy yellow stuff you can drink (which tastes the same anyway).
Then the craft beer movement hit and my palate become sophisticated to the nuances of good beer (not the fizzy yellow stuff referenced above). I became one of those people complaining about the local beers. Can’t someone just bring me an IPA?
Which got me thinking about the craft beer movement in general. Has it hit Caribbean sun spots? Let’s take a look at Aruba beer, for example, as it’s arguably one of the best Caribbean destinations in terms of a culinary scene.
Has craft beer hit Aruba?
Not really. The Aruba beer market focuses heavily around the three offerings from Balashi, Pilsner, Light, and Chill, which are brewed on the island. Balashi is as close as you’ll get to a Caribbean craft beer as the grain bill is 100% malts with no rice fillers. The Pilsner is the heaviest of the three in terms mouthfeel and flavor, and Chill is the lightest resembling more of an “island” beer.
Other popular beers imported from surrounding tropical destinations include Amstel Bright from Curaçao and Polar from Venezuela. Both also fill that “island” lager niche. Since Aruba is a Dutch island, Heineken, Amstel, and Amstel Light are also available.
But there are a few bright spots!
Up until recently, there were only restaurants with beer menus beyond those mentioned above, but they focused solely Belgium or Germany. Taste of Belgium is a favorite of tourists and locals alike with a rotating selection of Belgian beers on the menu and some of the best food in Aruba. Think Belgian treats like mussels and frites or steak and frites. The restaurant also hosts beer tasting dinners on occasion teaching guests about both ideal beer and food pairings and proper glassware. Bavaria, as its namesake indicates, specializes in German food and beers, boasting quite an extensive menu of each. There’s over 100 beers available, ranging from Belgian beers to hoppy IPAs.
For a sports bar atmosphere, head to Bros & Beer at the King Plaza Mall. The bar has multiple TVs to watch your favorite sports team while you enjoy their speciality craft beer. They have a large selection to choose from, and are constantly adding new beers to the lineup.
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Madame Janette has the largest variety of American craft beer on the island. While the restaurant has been around since 1999, they didn’t start serving craft beer until two years ago when the owner was awoken to the trend after a visit to the United States. The beer menu goes quite deep offering a few brews hard to come by in the U.S., let alone on a Caribbean island. Also new to the craft beer scene is Local Store Aruba which has a decent selection of rotating American craft beers.
Go head craft beer lovers, plan a vacation in Aruba and enjoy that well deserved week of relaxation. Aruba has enough craft beer to please anyone but a fan of fizzy yellow light beers.