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Brew Review 2014

Brew Review Logo 2014

Great Brews for a Great Cause
Enjoy a night of great beer featuring local and national breweries as well as select imports. If you live in Columbus, Ohio, enjoy craft beer, and want to support a great cause check out the Brew Review event happening THIS Friday – October 17th starting at 7pm!

Brew Review is a casual evening tasting craft beers. Come for the beer and stay for the hors d’oeuvres, music, and mingling. 100% of net proceeds will support Creative Living’s Resident Assistance Program. Creative Living is a non-profit organization encouraging independent living for adults with severe physical disabilities by providing wheelchair accessible housing and assistance and by creating a supportive environment for people to learn, work, live and contribute to the community.

What’s On Tap
Want to know the brews on the menu? Check out this year’s list:

  • Actual Photon
  • Actual Oktoberfest
  • Anchor Steam Beer
  • Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
  • Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
  • Barley’s Blood Thirst Wheat
  • Barley’s Centennial IPA
  • Barley’s Russian Imperial Stout
  • Barley’s Scottish Ale
  • Brooklyn Lager
  • Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
  • Estrella Damm Daura (Gluten Free Beer)
  • Ithaca Flower Power IPA
  • Lager Heads Bed Head Red Ale
  • Lost Coast Tangerine
  • Mt. Carmel Harvest Ale
  • Rockmill Petite Saison
  • Rockmill Tripel
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale
  • Uinta Hop Nosh IPA
  • Victory Prima Pils Wheat
  • Wolf’s Ridge Beta Belgian Dubbel
  • Wolf’s Ridge Clear Sky Cream Ale
  • Wolf’s Ridge Driftwood Session IPA
  • Wolf’s Ridge Trail American Amber


Event Information:

Brew Review – A night of great craft beers with Creative Living

Date and Time:
Friday, October 17, 2014
7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Location:
Grange Insurance Audubon Center
505 W. Whittier
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Grange Insurance Audubon Center is located on the Scioto River just south of downtown Columbus.

Tickets:
$35 for tickets purchased before October 10th, $40 after and at the door.
You’ll receive 15 tasting tickets and a custom tasting glass that’s yours to keep.
Purchase your tickets
today!

Want to invite a friend or follow the event on Facebook? Check out the Brew Review Facebook event page.

m4s0n501

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Beer of the Week: Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale

Beer of the Week - Laurelwood Pumpkin AleThis Pumpkin Ale was formerly named “Laurelwood Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale.” To keep things straight, it’s still the same recipe, but according to the brewery’s website someone else has the rights to the name “Stingy Jack” so the beer now sports a slightly modified label and has been renamed to “Laurelwood Pumpkin Ale.”

Founded in 2001 and located in Portland, Oregon, Laurelwood Brewing Co. is a family-owned business run by a husband and wife team. To create their pumpkin ale, they start with a strong ale recipe for a nutty amber beer, then add pumpkin, squash and a pumpkin pie spice blend to the mix during the brewing process. This is what produces the warm and spicy nose that makes this particular pumpkin ale so great!

Appearance: Hazy, deep, reddish amber with minimal head.

Smell: Very aromatic pumpkin ale; spicy with hints of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg; subtle pumpkin.

Taste: Good balance between spicy and pumpkin flavors, and leans a bit more towards the spicy side. It’s malty but not too sweet. Balanced in a very drinkable way.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy mouthfeel. The body also contributes to its drinkability.

Overall: I love a good pumpkin ale, and I’m also very picky about my favorites. I’d say this one can claim a spot in my top ten. Southern Tier’s Pumking still dominates as my ultimate favorite pumpkin ale, but I would definitely drink the Laurelwood one again. It’s one of the better ones from the West coast I tried this season.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.69 / 5

Style: Pumpkin Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 12
Original Gravity: 17° Plato
Malts: Unknown
Hops: Unknown
Special Ingredients: Pumpkin, squash and pumpkin pie spices
Availability: Seasonal
Food Pairings: Why not give this a try with some pumpkin pie?
Glassware: Pint glass
Aging: N/A

Where to get it: I picked my bottle up at Whole Foods in Bellevue, WA

 

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Never Fear… Tasty Mug (is still) Here!

Greetings fellow beer drinkers! You may have noticed that Tasty Mug recently went on hiatus, and you may have even worried if it would ever return. I’m happy to announce the hiatus is over and Tasty Mug is back in full force.

Downtown SeattleThis brief interlude was the result of receiving the exciting news that your author (me) received a brand-spanking-new job in a new city – Seattle! The past month involved driving 2400 miles across the country (with some pit spots at breweries along the way of course). While the journey from the flat, Midwestern landscape of Ohio to the mountainous realm of the Pacific Northwest has been very exciting (especially when I got lost in the middle of Wyoming) I’m nonetheless happy to now be settled so I can get back to the very important business of enjoying and writing about craft beer!

There is definitely a bustling beer business here in the Pacific Northwest. You can “talk shop” with just about any random Joe wandering about. And the selection of local brews alone is enough to put a dent in your wallet and keep you busy tasting for a long time.

Total Wine & MoreI recently wandered into a wonderful wine and beer superstore called Total Wine & More. They boast over 8,000 wines available in their stores, along with 3,000 spirits and 2,500 beers (I’d believe it too!). It’s basically like walking into a magical Candy Land for adults aged 21 and older. In other words, knowing I was tasked with buying beers to host a local tasting (more on that in a later post) and walking in with a cart was a bad idea for my wallet. And in addition to that, there is a huge aisle devoted purely to Washington beers. It’s a beautiful site to behold. I’ll give props to Ohio for its recent growth spurt of local breweries, but in the category of most local brews, the West Coast gets the gold.

If you’re in Seattle and looking for some upcoming beer events to get your brew on, check out Fremont Oktoberfest coming up this weekend (September 20, 21, 22). If that’s not enough beer for you, make sure to buy your tickets for Elysian Brewing’s 9th Annual Great Pumpkin Beer Festival –  this is a popular local event and has previously sold out. As of today, Saturday tickets are no longer available, but you can still score some tickets for Friday or Sunday. So what are you waiting for?? There’s more than enough beer drinking to go around here in the Emerald City, so tip back a pint and let’s get started!

 

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Beer of the Week: Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster

Beer of the Week - Great Lakes Lakes Erie MonsterThis week’s featured beer is Lake Erie Monster, brewed by Great Lakes Brewing Company. The Great Lakes website describes it as “An Imperial India pale ale exploding with bold hop flavors.”

This is a seasonal release that is usually out in late Spring, and it only has a shelf life of about 90 days (this is typical of most IPAs). So if you buy some bottles, drink them down while they’re fresh!

This particular brew is named “Lake Erie Monster” in ode to South Bay Bessie, Cleveland’s Lake Erie version of the Loch Ness Monster. Just don’t drink too many of these brews and wander alone near the water’s edge – you never know what may be lurking underneath the surface!

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Slight hazy medium amber with moderate head and lots of nice lacing.

Smell: Sweet with strong citrus hops in the nose and maybe some floral notes.

Taste: Citrusy sweetness upfront; pineapple, oranges, and some light malts that move into a dry, bitter, hoppy finish. As the beer warms more of a spicy finish emerges. The warmth of the booze comes out after just a few sips.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied and creamy with balanced carbonation.

Overall: While a good IPA, it’s a little on the sweet side for me. Not as sweet as the Unita Hop Notch but definitely sweeter than Hop Stoopid or the Enjoy By IPAs from Stone. Overall though a solid IPA that is especially good for a hot summer day.

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 / 5

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.10%
IBUs: 80
Original Gravity: 22º Plato
Malts: Harrington 2-Row Malt; Caramel 30
Hops: Simcoe; Willamette
Special Ingredients:
Availability: Rotating (Released in May)
Food Pairings: Steak, pork chops, aged cheese, and dark chocolate
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Oversized Wine Glass
Aging: Check the bottle for a date – if you purchase the 25th anniversary bottles you should consume this one by August 2013. General shelf life is about 90 days for this brew.

Where to get it:
I purchased my 4-pack at Gentile’s (corner of King Ave and North Star in Columbus). Most likely available at most beer stores while it is in release.

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Beer of the Week: Three Floyds Gumballhead

Beer of the Week - Three Floyds GumballheadThis week’s featured beer is one of my all-time favorites, Gumballhead from Three Floyds Brewing – which incidentally is also one of my all-time favorite breweries. They produce some very high quality brews.

Gumballhead is an American Wheat Ale and is actually named in honor of an underground comic book cat character called Gumballhead that was created by Rob Syers. Initially a seasonal summer beer, it is now brewed year round due to demand. It’s brewed with Amarillo Hops and a lot of American red wheat, which gives it a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. According to Three Floyds – “These flavors combined with low bitterness make Gumballhead a refreshing American Wheat Beer that doesn’t suck.”

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a mostly clear, light amber with a nice frothy head that retains around the glass and leaves a lot of nice lacing.

Smell: Hoppy-smelling for a wheat beer with definite notes of pine and citrus and some nice, malty undertones.

Taste: Excellent brew; awesome mixture of flavors, very well-balanced and smooth. There are strong but balanced hops upfront that transition to more of the citrus, grapefruit sweetness that then finishes on a slightly dry, hoppy note.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth and creamy; makes you lick your lips after you drink. The carbonation is very balanced with the body of the beer.

Overall: I typically don’t like the general category of wheat beers but this one is definitely special. I could easily drink more than one of these without thinking twice. I’ve been fortunate enough to have it on a few separate occasions and each every time it just proves to me how good it really is. One of the best beers in this category I’ve had and it would take something pretty special to change my opinion on that.

Tasty Mug Rating: 4.00 / 5

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.60%
IBUs: 35
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts: American Red Wheat
Hops: Armarillo
Special Ingredients: Not listed
Availability: Year-round
Food Pairings: Latin American or German dishes; Cheese (earthy; Camembert, Fontina) General (Salad) Meat (Poultry)
Glassware: Pint Glass (or Becker, Nonic, Tumbler), Mug (or Seidel, Stein), Weizen Glass
Aging: Definitely drink this one soon after acquiring for optimal freshness.

Where to get it:
You pretty much have to go the Three Floyds brewpub to pick up bottles of this beer; you won’t find bottles of it distributed in Ohio. It does, however, pop up on draft randomly from time to time. The best way to hear about it when it does is to follow most of local bars and restaurants on Facebook that are known to carry good draft beer selections.

 

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Beer of the Week: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

Beer of the Week - Lagunitas Hop StoopidThis week’s featured beer is delicious IPA named Hop Stoopid, yet another beer from Lagunitas. I’ve featured their beers several times as of late – but hey – I can’t argue with a brewery that consistently brews great quality beers! And ’tis the summer season which means hoppy beers are in abundance. This beer is extra hopped, and dry hopped at the end, however it is also “extra malted” so the malt backbone does a dandy job of balancing things out so it isn’t too bitter, despite it’s larger IBU rating.

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy, deep gold with a nice foamy head, good retention and nice lacing.

Smell: Smells super hoppy to me, with hints of pine and citrus. Nicely aromatic. As the beer warms slightly the malty aroma emerges more.

Taste: I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the flavor of this beer rounds out when compared with the strong hop aroma and the high IBUs. Just as a side-note, I’m still working my taste buds up to super hoppy IPAs and on first pass this smelled as though it would be heavy duty. Has a really clean, hoppy and bitter finish to it with a slight sweetness that lingers in the mouth afterward.

Mouthfeel: Nice, creamy medium-bodied beer that goes down smooth has very well-balanced carbonation. Follows the typical mouthfeel that is characteristic with most Lagunitas brews.

Overall: Fits the bill for hop heads and non-hop heads alike – a very good middle-of-the-road and well-balanced IPA that should be a real crowd pleaser. Yet another good brew from Lagunitas.

Tasty Mug Rating: 4.34 / 5

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 102
Original Gravity:
Malts: Not listed
Hops: This is a dry-hopped beer
Special Ingredients: Not listed
Availability: Year-round
Food Pairings: Cheese (peppery; Monterey / Pepper Jack, sharp; Blue, Cheddar, pungent; Gorgonzola, Limburger) Grilled meat, fish or barbeque. I personally think this would go well with any spicy dish.
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Oversized Wine Glass
Aging: Can be cellared for long periods, under the proper conditions

Where to get it:
This one should be available at most stores that carry a decent craft beer selection.

 

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Weekly Roundup – Where to Drink on a Weekend Trip to Austin

I recently visited Austin for the first time, and being the beer freak I am, I went to as many beer destinations as I could possibly cram into a single weekend. For a detailed run down of all the places I visited, check back in a week or two – I’ll be posting the full article of my exploits. In the meantime here are a few of the places I highly recommend you make time to visit if you’re only visiting the Lone Star state for a few days.


Weekly Roundup - Austin - Austin BeerworksAustin Beerworks

Austin Beerworks a must visit if you can time it right – their beer is seriously good but they’re only open to the public at certain times. Make sure you check their events page to see when they are hosting events or happy hours – a ticket is almost always required in order to attend, and it isn’t uncommon for them to sell out.

Where is it?
3009 Industrial Terrace Austin, TX 78758
info@austinbeerworks.com


Weekly Roundup - Austin - Barber ShopBarber Shop

While Barber Shop is officially in Dripping Springs, about a 30 minute drive from Austin, it’s totally worth every minute to take a detour for a drink with the locals. While I’d be inclined to label it a hole-in-the-wall, it ultimately really isn’t, especially with the selection of beers on draft as well as some special bottles they may have tucked away in the cooler. I had a thoroughly good time the night I rolled into Barber Shop and I guarantee you will too.

Where is it?
207 Mercer Street Dripping Springs, TX 78620
512-829-4636


Weekly Roundup - Austin - BangersBanger’s

Sausage any way you want it abounds at Banger’s, along with the best beverage to pair with cooked meat – beer! They boast the largest sausage selection in Austin and also have over 100 beers on draft. There’s a bar and tables inside and long community-seating picnic tables underneath the shade of the trees outside. If you have a dog there is even a leashless mini dog park so your pooch can mingle while you get your drink on. If you’re vegetarian you’ll find options on the menu to accommodate you as well – even sausage – with choices of smoked mushroom and asparagus, or beet and goat cheese.

Where is it?
79 & 81 Rainey St. Austin, TX 78701
512-386-1656


Weekly Roundup - Austin - Pinthouse PizzaPinthouse Pizza

Pinthouse Pizza may seriously be the best place in Austin to get a pizza and a flight. They have over 40 craft beers including a lineup of their own brews – which I recommend ordering if you enjoy IPAs because most of their beers have a hoppy, bitter profile. If you aren’t sure what to order the bartenders will assemble a flight for you. Their pizzas are also very tasty – I got the Hill Country and it paired very nicely with my flight, which by the way, had a very nice presentation. If you really like the taster glasses (which I did of course!) you can buy those as well as any of their other glasses too!

Where is it?
4729 Burnet Rd. Austin, TX 78756
512-436-9605


Weekly Roundup - Austin - The Ginger ManThe Ginger Man

Part of a family of pubs that were opened by a man named Bob Precious, The Ginger Man in Austin is the third location that opened, back in 1994. The pubs derive their name from a 1952 novel by J.P. Donleavy called The Ginger Man– a story about the misadventures of a young American studying in Dublin, Ireland just after World War II. Supposedly the main character was quite the witty, boozing scoundrel, and the book is a hilarious read according to the reviews. The Ginger Man pub focuses on quality beer and service and they have an extensive list of beers both in bottles or draught.

Where is it?
301 Lavaca St. Austin, TX 78701
512-473-8801


Got a favorite beer hangout in Austin? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

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Beer of the Week: Équinoxe du Printemps

Beer of the Week - Équinoxe du PrintempsThis week’s beer hails from Canada – a uniquely-flavored brew called Équinoxe du Printemps from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel. This is a Scotch Ale brewed with maple syrup and definitely packs a punch at 9.5% ABV.

Équinoxe du Printemps translates to “spring equinox” in French, and the bottle states that this time of year is “the quintessential marriage of two great traditions – beer brewing in Scotland and maple syrup production in Quebec.” I’d have to agree that mixing the two together in the correct proportions results in a nicely flavored Scotch ale with a twist that is definitely enjoyable and makes for a complexly-flavored beer.

If you like spicy beers, I recommend checking out Route des épices from the same brewery – it’s a rye beer brewed with both black and green peppercorns.

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a hazy deep brown with a bit of a fizz; has a minimal head but it retains around the sides of the glass.

Smell: Malty, sweet and syrupy (maple syrup) with a hint of woodiness and underlying undertones of booze.

Taste: This is an interesting one with the woody flavor upfront that transitions to sweet, maple syrup, and malty flavor on the back, then finishes with a warm boozy tone. Rich and complex.

Mouthfeel: Solid, medium-bodied beer with fine and balanced carbonation and a very smooth, buttery feel.

Overall: This is a solid brew. The maple syrup doesn’t overwhelm with sweetness – in fact it balances with the traditional flavors in Scotch Ales in a way that rounds this beer out nicely and makes it a very enjoyable sipping beer. I’d recommend giving it a try!

Tasty Mug Rating: 3.75 / 5

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy
ABV: 9.50%
IBUs: Unknown
Original Gravity: Not listed
Malts:Not listed
Hops:Not listed
Special Ingredients: Maple syrup
Availability: Rotating
Food Pairings: Cheese (buttery; Brie, Gouda, Havarti, Swiss); smoked meat
Glassware: Pint Glass, Snifter, Tulip
Aging: Can be cellared for long periods, under the proper conditions

Where to get it:
This isn’t a beer I’ve seen just on any old shelf. I think I bought this bottle at Jungle Jim’s down near Cincinnati (they often have a lot of imported beers to choose from). I’d recommend grabbing a bottle if you randomly come across it and giving it a try!

P.S. In case you were wondering, the glassware sporting this week’s beer is one of CraftGeer’s snifters – come on admit it … you know you want one!

 

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Beer of the Week: Stone Enjoy By IPA – 05.17.13

Stone Enjoy By IPAThis week’s featured brew is Stone Enjoy By IPA, my particular bottle being for 05.17.13. If you haven’t acquired your bottle by now, don’t despair – there should be more batches available soon (if not already). This is the seventh batch of the Enjoy By IPA, and it’s extremely popular so I’m sure there are many more to come.

Stone says:
“You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.”

Tasty Mug Review

Appearance: Pours a clear pale to medium amber with a nice, frothy head and nice retention. Lots of lacing around the glass as you drink.

Smell: Hops, hops and more hops! Definitely some notes of citrus and tropical fruits with perhaps a hint of floral. Very nicely aromatic.

Taste: Starts off very bready then rolls into the fruity sweetness. Finishes with a pleasant, hoppy bitterness that lingers on the palette.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, creamy beer with nicely balanced carbonation and crispness.

Overall: This is a solid IPA from Stone. Comes off very fresh in flavor and is very enjoyable to drink. There’s virtually no hint of the amount of booze in this brew until you start to feel it from sipping your way through the beer. Stone is one of my favorite breweries and this beer doesn’t disappoint.

Tasty Mug Rating: 4.11 / 5

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.40%
IBUs: 88
Original Gravity: Unknown
Malts: Not listed
Hops: Not listed
Special Ingredients: Not listed
Availability: Rotating (to encourage drinking in a timely manner it is released in batches with labels that clearly indicate the “drink by” date)
Food Pairings: Cheese (peppery; Monterey / Pepper Jack, sharp; Blue, Cheddar, pungent; Gorgonzola, Limburger) Grilled meat, fish or barbeque
Glassware: Snifter, Tulip, Oversized Wine Glass
Aging: Enjoy this beer to the fullest by consuming it before the “enjoy by” date on the label

Where to get it:
A bit hard to come by; this is a beer that often requires you to be on friendly terms with your local beer store. I personally picked my bottle up at Northwest Wine & Spirits because the gentleman at the counter was nice to me. :)

 

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Drinking on Caribbean Time

I recently traveled to the Caribbean where I visited Saint Martin and Anguilla. Both are beautiful countries. And of course, when traveling to paradise (or anywhere else!) one of the foremost questions of any beer enthusiast’s mind is “What kind of beer can I drink there?” followed shortly thereafter by “Where can I go to drink it?”

Drinking on Caribbean Time - Anguilla Beach
Besides researching what one does for 10 days in paradise, I also made it top order of business to find the local brews available for consumption on the island.

While Saint Martin doesn’t produce any local beers, there were still plenty to be had from surrounding islands or even a few imported from the United States, Europe or Asia. Craft beers (imported of course) are rare to come by but I still made it a goal to try as many different beers as possible. I quickly learned that even beers like Heineken taste different (literally) in the Caribbean than the United States.

 

Where is St MaartenThe Islands

St MaartenSaint Martin is approximately 37 square miles and is actually divided between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The northern half (French side) goes by Saint Martin and the southern half (Dutch side) goes by Sint Maarten. I stayed in a nice area called Pelican Key along the Dutch side in a villa right on the beach. This is one of the best spots if you like to beachcomb, or to see beautiful sunsets and cruise ships leaving from the main port in Philipsburg.

AnguillaAnguilla (pronounced Ann-gwilla – similar to “vanilla”) is a British overseas territory directly north of Saint Martin; it’s about 25 minutes by ferry from the port at Marigot. Approximately 16 miles long by about 3 miles wide, Anguilla is much smaller and sleepier than Saint Martin. In fact the common method of reaching the island is often to fly into Saint Martin then take the ferry over, rather than trying to fly over to the little island. I only took a day trip to the island (not long enough to spend there by any means!) but was able to visit a few locations – more on that later!

 

Guavaberry RumThe Rum

The primary beverage of choice on Saint Martin is their locally produced rum. While it’s not beer, I have to say their rum is delicious and probably the best rum I’ve had in any of the islands! You’ll find homemade rum everywhere – outdoor markets, grocery store shelves, and of course at all the bars and restaurants.

Drinking on Caribbean Time - Almond RumThere are a plethora of flavors available, although they are most known for their Guavaberry flavor. Guavaberries grow on trees and are a rare fruit found high in the warm hills in the center of the island. If you’re ever on the island, I also highly recommend you take a shopping trip to Philipsburg and make sure to stop at The Sint Maarten Guavaberry Shop (just avoid Tuesdays as this is the most busy cruise ship day). They cannot send their liquors from Saint Martin to the U.S. and Canada, but I would travel back just to stock up on this stuff. They also make some really good hot sauces and spices, which you can order online from the states.

I picked up some Guavaberry and Island Almond rum for the trip home. The woman manning the tasting counter at the shop informed me that the almond flavor is “the Amaretto of the Caribbean” (it was pretty damn good).

Cruzan RumI also recommend both Rum Jumbie (the Vanilla Splash flavor was my favorite) or Cruzan Rum (which also comes in many flavors). They’re awesome in mixed drinks or even on the rocks.

ShotglassesAnd of course if you’re drinking quality liquor, you should get some hand-painted quality shotglasses! I picked these up from a French couple at the market at Marigot (a must-visit if you go to Saint Martin).

 

The Beer

Drinking on Caribbean Time - CoronaIn Saint Martin I managed to try 19 unique beers. 20 if I count the mysterious dark bottle of motor oil we purchased at a small corner market that listed “alcohol” on the contents (although to this day I’m not exactly sure what was in that bottle). “Craft beer” isn’t really a thing on the island, but that surely didn’t prevent me from indulging.

The primary thing I can say that is pretty awesome about the Dutch side of the island is that there are little to no rules involved with the where, when and how of alcohol consumption. It’s basically a free-for-all and you can crack open a beer while you are going for a stroll  or even driving to the beach (I don’t recommend this on the French side, however, I’m pretty sure their laws are not as lax). There is also a complete lack of “no glass” rules on the beaches – in fact – something that really amazed me was not once did I see broken glass anywhere on the sand, yet people are drinking from bottles of beer everywhere.

Here’s the official list of the beers I enjoyed while in the Caribbean:

  • Amstel Bright
    Not to be confused with Amstel Light, Amstel Bright is a pale lager formerly produced in Curaçao, but now it’s brewed in the Netherlands and then exported back to the islands. It’s not sold in the states, only the islands.
  • Asahi Super Dry
    If you like sushi or frequent Japanese Steakhouses you’ve probably had this beer at one point. It’s brewed in Japan of course, and is an easy-drinking island beer.
  • Carib Lager
    Brewed in Trinidad & Tobago, this is your standard Lager – however I can personally vouch that getting a bucket of Carib beers (with lime wedges) and watching the planes fly in at the famous Sunset Bar & Grill in Saint Martin is the perfect way to spend a full afternoon!
  • Ceres Royal Stout (Ceres Extra Strong Stout)
    One of the two stouts I tried while on the island, it’s highly ranked by “the bros” on BeerAdvocate. It is a malty, toasty, coffee-flavored stout and overall I preferred this one over the Mackeson (listed further below). This brew hails from Denmark.
  • Corona Extra
    Almost everyone should be familiar with Corona Extra, which is brewed in Mexico and a very popular beach beer (with a wedge of lime included of course!)
  • Crabbie’s Ginger Beer – Original
    Crabbie’s is from Scotland, and it’s good stuff. Very flavorful and refreshing, and a great change up from the typical beers available. The original version is flavored like ginger (of course) and lemon and lime.
  • Crabbie’s Ginger Beer – Spiced Orange
    Flavored to match it’s name, like ginger and orange, this was also a very refreshing brew.
  • Desperados
    This was new to me, and came in several variations depending on what you’re in the mood for. The Desperados line of beers comes from France and is considered a Lager.
  • Desperados Red
    This variation is sweeter and higher in alcohol than its sisters, and is good to change things up if you want something different than the traditional normal flavor.
  • Desperados Mas
    This was my least favorite of the three Desperados I tried, it is a pale Lager and comes in the lowest in alcohol content at 3.0% ABV.
  • Elephant Beer
    This is a Strong PIlsner brewed in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s definitely your go-to beer if looking for a higher ABV (7.2% to be exact) while you’re in the islands.
  • Full Sail IPA
    This was one of the two beers I had while on Anguilla, and it appears Blanchards brought it in from Oregon. That’s a long trip for an imported beer!
  • Heineken Pilsener
    Brewed in the Netherlands, this appears to be a slight variation of the Heineken we know in the U.S. (in fact I swear it tastes better). They also come in smaller bottles (almost mini-bottles if you will) than the ones you’re used to seeing at home.
  • Mackeson Triple XXX Stout
    My first experience with a stout while in a tropical location, and while a decent milk stout from Trinidad & Tobago, it isn’t quite as tasty in a warm climate as the lighter beers.
  • Presidente
    A classic for drinking in the islands and “the true taste of the Caribbean,” Presidente is a Pilsner produced in the Dominican Republic.
  • Red Strip Jamaican Lager
    Most people are familiar with Red Stripe as it’s readily available in the U.S. – it’s brewed in Jamaica.
  • San Miguel Pale Pilsen
    A German Pilsener from the Philippines, this was the second beer I tried while on Anguilla.
  • Tiger Beer
    This is a Lager from Singapore – I wouldn’t say it’s anything special but will quench your thirst on a hot tropical day.
  • Tiegerbrau
    The mysterious beer that is very similar to motor oil (and also tastes like it). All I could derive from the label was that it was based from a German malt formula and supposedly did have alcohol. However it tasted pretty terrible so I didn’t spend much time analyzing it.
  • Tsingtao
    A Lager from China, I think this one is “ok” but I’d drink some of the other beers on the list before reaching for this one.

 

Bars and Restaurants

There are a few places that are a must-visit for your drinking purposes if you travel to Saint Martin or Anguilla.

Sunset Beach Bar (Maho Beach, St. Maarten)

Sunset Beach BarFirst and foremost, the Sunset Bar & Grill on Maho Beach is a must-see purely to go watch the airplanes take off and land. They only have a narrow airstrip with which to perform this feat, with ocean on one side and mountains on the other. I highly recommend going by around noon and checking the surfboard to see what times the big jets are scheduled to land. There is generally a constant stream of airplanes landing from early to late afternoon, but the larger jets are by far the most spectacular to watch land.

Bucket of CaribAirplaneThen, go get yourself a bucket of beers and a prime spot on the small strip of sand near the blast zone (although not in the blast zone) – and I promise you’re in for some real entertainment! I actually went here twice while on my trip and it never gets boring. Plus, you can’t beat free-flowing drinks and a great view!

Loterie Farm Treelounge (Loterie Farm, St. Martin)

This is a chill, hidden-away-in-the-trees, open loft area that is on the grounds of Loterie Farm, which is nestled on the hillside of Pic Paradis (another attraction I highly recommend you see). Loterie Farm Treelounge has a plethora of beer, cocktails and wine available for your consumption as well as tapas if you’re hungry.

TreeloungeIf you’re into activities such as zip-lining, or hiking, Loterie is also the perfect place, especially if you would like to also see Pic Paradise. As you may read when researching Pic Paradis, driving up to the start of the trail for this scenic overlook is not recommended, as the route is secluded and surrounded by trees (which often results in tourists being mugged). However, Loterie Farm has a hiking trail that leads up to the start of the trail for Pic Paradis, and it’s the recommended way to go if you want to see this particular attraction.

I’m not a habitual hiker, and I’d say that the trail is definitely doable, however, bring sturdy shoes and be prepared to do a bit of climbing up rocks and fairly steep hills (there are ropes to assist you). If you don’t get around very easily, this probably isn’t the way for you, but the hike itself provides some spectacular views and interesting surroundings such an area with a very old-looking well and trees with thorns on the trunks.

Pic ParadiseIf you do take the Loterie Farm trail, once you cross the road and ascend the final part of the trail to Pic Paradis, make sure you turn right and go slightly downhill once you hit the opening with the towers – the direction you’re supposed to go for the overlook is not well-marked and my brother and I spent some time wandering around before we figured out the proper direction. Once you find it, you won’t be disappointed – it’s a breathtaking view and the picture here doesn’t do it justice.

Blanchards Beach Shack (Meads Bay, Anguilla)

Blanchards Beach ShackBob and Melinda Blanchard moved from Vermont to Anguilla to pursue their dream of opening a great restaurant on a sleepy Caribbean island. Their first restaurant, Blanchards, was a resounding success. Thanks to this (and to my delight) they decided to open a second restaurant, Blanchards Beach Shack, which opened in December of 2011. I first became acquainted with their life story and entrepreneurial adventures when I read their book, A Trip to the Beach: Living on Island Time in the Caribbean. It became my goal to visit one of their establishments if I ever reached Anguilla – so I was very excited to be able to experience lunch at their Beach Shack firsthand.

Blanchards Street TacosBlanchards Beach Shack is definitely one of the top places I ate while on this trip. Their food is excellent and very high quality, they had several beers available (including an imported craft beer from the states) and the view from Meads Bay was absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend their “street tacos” and I’m pretty sure anything else on the menu is excellent as well.

 

Lessons Learned While Drinking in the Caribbean

  • Saint Martin is an awesome island, especially when it comes to drinking brews on the Dutch side. You’re free to pop open a cold one wherever and whenever the mood strikes, which is something it’s easy to get used to (and forget you can’t do most places back in the states!)
  • Stouts are rare to come by, but for good reason. They just really aren’t as tasty in tropical 80 degree weather – no matter how good the stout is. Plus, your beer will be warm in about 10 minutes. ;)
  • Carib is better with lime, just like Corona.
  • Elephant is your best bet for a high ABV light-bodied beer.
  • Presidente always tastes a little better than you expect it will, especially after an uphill half-day hike!
  • Desperados Red is a great switch from all the typical lagers but it’s too sweet to drink more than two in one sitting.
  • The Heineken Pilsener tastes way better than the Heineken that you get in the states, and it comes in a little “mini bottle.” This is true for several of the beers down there – no idea why they come in munchkin sizes (maybe it’s because your beer gets warm so fast??).

 

This was a long article, so if you stuck with me through the whole thing, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it – and as much as I enjoyed visiting Saint Martin and Anguilla! I highly recommend the trip for anyone, and I’m definitely looking forward to the day I can go back again and have an ice cold Carib on a warm, sunny beach.

Carib Bottle Cap