|Bahama Mama - Bahamas 2010
Cold weather? We don’t like it. And it gets cold at Roberts Manor – in February 2010 alone we had over 25 inches of snow, with bitter temperatures. Old
Harry Brackett, The Manor groundsman had a right old time shoveling the snow and keeping the acres ice –free, although he had a bit of grief trying to save
The winter was a nightmare – little wonder then, that we left the house staff and our peasants to it, while we headed off to our Manor in The Bahamas.
Oh yes, you could keep those frigid temperatures; we were off for some sun, sand, sea and any beers that might flow in our direction. Our Manor was located
in Port Lucaya on the island of Grand Bahama. This, children, is where we begin our sun-soaked lager-fest journey….
1) Eclipse lager (abv unknown)
This was sold at Freeport (the capital) Airport for the princely sum of $1.00. After tasting it, I knew why it was sold for the princely sum of $1.00. It’s described
by its brewers, Commonwealth Brewery (Heineken) as a “Pale Lager” and pale it certainly was. It was light urine in colour with a slightly malty, tinny taste which
faded quickly. An utter waste of time. 1/10
2) Kalik Light (4.5%)
Back at The Port Lucaya Manor, Lady Roberts had one of the servants crack open a Kalik Light, which I felt obligated to taste. Promoted as the “official” light
beer of the Bahamas, Kalik Light was a total disaster. Pouring the most pale of pale yellows in the glass, this “beer” was watery and thin with the mildest grainy
malt and thin grassy hops. The finish was of fizzy pale dishwater. A total non-entity. 0/10
3) Kalik (5%)
For a start, this offering had considerably more body than the abysmal “light”, although that’s where it stopped. It had awards printed on the label: Monde
Selecian – Bruxelles; World Selection Mondales De La Biere, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2001. It’s also (apparently) the best selling lager in the Bahamas.
Quite carbonated for a lager, it featured flavours of lime, straw and a little bit of sweet malt and your standard grassy hops. And ‘er…nothing else.
Characterless to the power of 10. 2/10
Kalik was also reviewed on our Royal cruise for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” article. I gave it 1/10 at that time, so at least it has gone up a point!
4) High Rock (5.6%)
Here’s an idea we thought – let’s drive out to the east part of the island to McCleans Town, the furthest point we could drive. Off we went along a two-lane
road which soon lead into a lonely two-lane road with vast pine forests to our left and right. Oddly, we saw no traffic – nothing coming towards us and nothing
behind us; just myself and Lady Roberts driving through all these trees.
It came to a point where the petrol gauge was looking a bit dodgy. Had we seen a petrol station? No. Had we seen any houses? No. Had we seen any
people? Er’ No. It was time to turn back. Somewhere up ahead was the town of High Rock, which had a big star on the map obviously denoting a town of
some size. We thought we’d get petrol there then turn around.
In the distance, we saw the sign “High Rock”. Then we saw one house, then another house then we saw lots and lots of trees, then nothing. No roads leading
in any other direction. High Rock was simply two houses, so we turned round and drove rather fast back to civilization as we knew it at Port Lucaya.
High Rock the lager was named after the sprawling two-house metropolis. It was launched on November 18th 2009 by Bahamian Brewery and Beverage
Company as their high-end beer; a rival – if you will – to Kalik Gold. And rather tasty it was too, pouring a nice golden yellow with a rich smooth lemon like
hoppy taste. Like most lagers in this region, it was underscored with some sweet malt and had a rather thirst-quenching crisp peppery finish. Think Heinekin
with flavour and character. Impressive. 8/10
5) Steel Reserve 211 (8.1%)
The commercial description from brewers Miller Coors: “The two eleven mark, based on the medieval symbol for steel, appears only on Steel Reserve (R) High
Gravity lager. We use nearly twice the ingredients of many normal lagers & brew for over twice as long as many quality beers”.
All sounds rather rosy, but 211 wasn’t as bad as you might believe. High gravity lagers always worry us at The Manor because you can always taste a
massive alcohol presence which is quite unappealing – the disastrous Baltica 9 comes to mind.
However, 211 began with an Orange gusto leading into strong almond flavours. Lots of extra hops and (especially) malt made themselves conspicuous further
on, before bitter lemons lead into a peppery finish. Not bad at all. 7/10.
6) Dragon Stout (7.5%)
Jaaaaaaahhh! Oh yes indeed, from our Manor Estate on the dreadlocked Island of Jamaica, we have Dragon Stout. Now the bad news: it’s brewed by the
same company - Desnoes & Geddes – that brews that pile o’shite Red Stripe lager. Worse still, Desnoes & Geddes is owned by corporate nightmare Diageo
(who also own Guinness and half of the whiskies distilled on Speyside).
But less about politics and more about the taste; with some light carbonation, the Dragon Stout was a bit on the syrupy and sweet side thanks to the corn
syrup with dominant flavours of chocolate and Ouzo. Some dried prunes came in at centre stage before the initial flavours of cocoa and aniseed returned for
the finale. Quite an odd stout, this; not exactly stellar by any means. 6/10
7) Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (7.5%)
Apart from Ireland and Nigeria, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout is also brewed throughout the West Indies. This can was brewed in Nassau on New Providence
Island, Bahamas (remember kids, the Bahamas Archipelago consists of 700 islands).
We’ve had some pretty incredible GFES in the past, with a fantastic version being brewed on the rainforest island of Dominca – the best version we’ve ever
tasted. Sadly though, the Nassau version was absolutely bloody awful.
The ONLY good point was that there was no widget in the can, which we normally see in cans of standard nitro-Guinness. Thus, it poured out flat, black with
an overpowering taste of road tar. Mid-can gave us flavours of overpowering road tar, while the finish was of overpowering road tar. Ghastly! 0/10
8) Sands (5.2%)
Our lager-fest continued with locally brewed beer Sands, brewed by Bahamian Brewery & Beverage. We even took a road trip out to the brewery which was
out in the middle of nowhere, not far from the Freeport docks.
Sands was another pale run-of-the-mill lager, a couple of grades up from the awful Kalik - mild grassy hops, mild malt, mild everything with a dash of pepper in
the finish. A perfect lager to enjoy while watching the sunset from the deck of the megayacht Casino Royale. 4/10
9) Sands Light (4.2%)
Speaking of the Casino Royale, a funny thing happened to me on the way to the barber’s. There we were, Lady Roberts and I, enjoying the view over the bay
in Port Lucaya after a day of snorkeling. Two hairdryers pulled up with the name Casino Royale on their sides – Oh, they belonged to the yacht. So, I went up
to one chap and said “How do you get your hairdryers on the yacht?”. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
After having drinks brought to us from the deck, he had his yacht manager take us on a tour of the yacht. We (unusually) looked a mess, having been in the
water all day, but the owner - David McDonald - didn’t mind at all. Once he knew who we were, it was the Gold Star treatment all the way. We didn’t take
photos while on board, but here’s a link to his splendid yacht: www.yachtcasinoroyale.com/Home-i-1-1.html
I might add, David was a top bloke and he and his mates are always welcome at Roberts Manor.
But, Sands Light – launched in 2009, it was simply a watered down version of Sands. Rather than enjoy it while watching the sunset from the deck of Casino
Royale, I’d be more inclined to tip it over the side of the Casino Royale while watching the sunset. 2/10
10) Kalik Gold (7%)
Looking at the map of Grand Bahama Island, we thought we’d take the motor out for a spin and head out to the west side of the Island. We’d heard the
snorkeling was “something special” out there, so we headed for the delightfully named Dead Man’s Reef and set up shop on the beach there.
To be sure, the snorkeling was not bad at all. We were able to swim out and actually snorkel all the way around this bloody great reef although the moment
we snorkeled through a school of jelly fish was a little spooky. Good job they didn’t sting although their barbs had this annoying habit of tearing tiny pieces of
flesh off us.
The real surprise was the swarm of sand fleas which bit my Royal self about 8-million times and had me scratching little red lumps for the reminder of the trip.
Lady Roberts thought she’d got away with it, but alas, her bites were delayed action – her millions of welts appeared after we had arrived back at Roberts
Yes, Kalik Gold, which my flea bitten self enjoyed at the beach café. This began life in 1992 when it was brewed to celebrate the arrival of Christopher
Columbus, who inflicted European diseases and such on the natives. This was an excellent top-drawer lager. It had rich syrupy flavours of lemon and lime,
underscored by sweet malt and the usual – but more noticeable – grassy hops. High gravity lagers can be a disaster; Kalik Gold was a triumph. 8/10
11) Strong Back Stout (7.6%)
The final beer in the portfolio by Bahamian Brewery & Beverage gave us a stout. It had a goat on the label – we are still working out the significance of this.
In the glass, it gave an aroma of blackcurrant Black Jacks, which was unusual to put it mildly. Also unusual, was the level of carbonation. In the taste, strong,
intense flavours of blackcurrant gave way to a distinct lactose feel, which remained throughout the beer. Typical of milk stouts, the finish was of charcoal with
notes of old tea leaves. This was most definitely an odd stout – I really liked the blackcurrant flavours, but the arrival of lactose was quite nauseating. 7/10
And that endeth our Royal excursion to The Bahamas. While we were there, we took it upon ourselves to feed a stray cat that hovered around Port Lucaya
market place. We looked quite the Royal pair at the local supermarket as we bought British chocolate, biscuits and tins of cat food.
Warm tropical weather? Works for us!