|Pirates of the Caribbean
I'm taking my wife to the West Indies.
No, she wanted to go!
Why are pirates called pirates?
Because they AAARRRGGGHHH (say in dastardly pirate voice with a parrot on your shoulder).
Ahoy there shipmates! This is Captain Lord Roberts with Captainess Lady Roberts -- having survived hand to hand combat in the Caribbean against some
dastardly thieving pirates (the locals at each port).
It was our first cruise together, and being landlubbers that we are, wearing Transderm Scop patches behind the ear certainly saved our bacon -- and our
stomachs -- aboard the good ship Carnival Destiny.
We spent two days in San Juan, Puerto Rico, prior to boarding the ship and having taken two flights and lugged our bags all over San Juan, I was gasping for
a pint. This is where the tastings begin...
San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1) Presidente Pilsener Pilsner (5%)
This is the flagship beer from the Dominican Republic and one which (they say) appears to represent the very historical culture of the Island. Served at our
hotel in a grotty plastic beaker, it poured a very pale yellow and tasted like a "light" beer with a mild balance of malt and hops with a quite pleasant trace of
orange in the mix. Sadly, the finish was non-existent, and therefore making the beer completely forgetable. Rather like a light version, of a light version of
Heineken Light. And daylight robbery at $6.25! 2/10
2) Medalla Light (Over 4% under 6%)
You can't move in Puerto Rico without seeing ads for their Medalla Light, apparently the only beer brewed on the Island. The abv strength on the bottle
states "over 4%, under 6%" -- is someone taking the piss?
Anyway, this was actually a very fine lager: mellow, full-bodied with more malt and hops in the flavour than the Presidente. You'd never know this was a "light"
beer and one I returned to several times in San Juan when Lady Roberts was sucking down on fresh Mojitos. 8/10
St.Thomas, US Virgin Islands
3) St.John's Brewing Co. Pale Ale (4.5%)
Our first port-of-call, and our first experience of being mobbed by millions of local vendors and taxi drivers as soon as we stepped off the ship. Amongst the
pushing and shoving all you could hear was "Taxi? Taxi?, you want Taxi?". There were drivers holding up boards with postcards of the Island stuck on them
"I take you here $50.00 -- I take you there $50.00". Four of us shared a taxi -- we saw some local sights, then Lady Roberts and myself made our own way
tothe picturesque Magens Bay, to get some peace and sit by the ocean.
St.John's is adjacent to St.Thomas, and their Pale Ale is brewed by the Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine(!). Described as having a "hint of mango",
whoever wrote that description must have been half-pissed because "hint" was the biggest underestimation in the history of the world as St.John's Pale Ale
was pure mango syrup with a dash of hops. It would go lovely with a vindaloo curry and a couple of spicy samosas, but as a Pale Ale, it was waaaayyyy off
base. Very odd. 2/10
4) Virgin Islands Brewing Co. Blackbeard Ale (5.2%)
Shiver me timbers - this was a pile o' shite! Based in St.Croix, the third of the US VI but brewed in Cold Springs, Minnesota, the Blackbeard Ale was in
desperate need of a pair of bollocks. It was dark and extremely thin and watery. There were faint traces of caramel and molasses in the taste, but no finish
whatsoever - a complete disaster. Someone needs to walk the plank over this sorry affair! 0/10
5) Kalik lager (5%)
Brewed and bottled by the Commonwealth Brewery in the Bahamas (owned by Heineken), Kalik was an exceedingly bland and characterless lager. More like
a clone of Heineken, it was pale, mellow, slightly bitter with malt taking over from hops. A complete waste of time. 1/10
Trafalgar Falls, Dominica.
6) Kubuli lager (5%)
No, I don't want a bloody taxi! Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-eeka) is essentially a rainforest island. Most of the Carnival Destiny passengers looked lost as
there was a severe lack of shopping, but Lady Roberts and myself had done our homework. A highlight was an outdoor hot steam bath at a wilderness retreat
(not a cruise passenger in sight) with hummingbirds flying around our heads.
I took more photos on this island than any other -- Roseau, the capital, was like 1930 Uganda.
Kubuli lager is brewed with the local spring water and based on German lagers. Thus, it was golden, a little bit on the malty side with a mild hop finish. Really
refreshing in the tropical heat. A no-nonsense lager. 8/10
7) Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (7.5%)
Not to be confused with Guinness Extra Stout, the Foreign Extra Stout is only brewed in parts of Africa and the Caribbean, plus, of course, Oiland. Thanks to
campaigning by CAMRA, the stout is now exported to the UK, although at the time of writing, it was not available in the US. This example was brewed by the
Dominica Brewery under license from those idiots in Dublin.
This was a RARE treat! Looking frothy and inviting in the glass and as black as a lump of coal, the initial aroma was a strange mixture of Dandelion & Burdock
and latex paint. Therefore, forgetting the aroma, I moved on to the taste -- very smooth, syrupy, underscored by mild, burnt barley. Mid-tastes revealed some
vanilla sweetness with a little bit of salt, and a creamy burnt coffee finish. No bitterness at all. This supreme stout bears no relation to the hideous dross that
Guinness sells in the US. A King among stouts. 10/10
Brighton Beach, Barbados.
8) Banks lager (4.7%)
No, I don't want a bloody taxi! Leaving the ship and fighting our way into Bridgetown, we took a quick glimpse at the hustle & bustle of the capital city and then
made our way to Brighton Beach -- a sugar white beach -- for a day of sun-worshiping and drinking beer.
Banks lager -- described as "the" beer of Barbados -- was a tasty revelation. It began with a scrumptious aroma of clementines, with zesty, tangy, orangy
flavours. It almost bordered on a wheat beer and finished with more citrusy - this time lemony - flavours. Absolutely bloody amazing (and well worth a few
9) Carib lager (5.1% to 5.4%)
The Caribs were one of the early peoples of the Caribbean who didn't take too kindly to the Spanish trying to enslave them. Carib lager (obviously named
after the forefathers) was another tasty little gem. With a slightly off-putting aroma of cat-piss, it gave a delightfully refreshing, grassy, lemony taste. Citrus
flavours continued with a light peppery finish. Beautiful. 9/10
Reduit Beach, St.Lucia.
10) Piton pilsner (5%)
No, I don't want a bloody taxi! After turning down the opportunity to get my hair braided in the capital, Castries, we took refuge in an excellent local craft
market before heading to Reduit Beach via a look at some local banana plantations. At Spinnakers Beach Cafe we ended up talking to a couple from
Piton beer is named after the two dramatic rainforest covered mountains, Gros Piton and Anse des Piton which are symbols of St.Lucia. The local brewery
describes it as a "mystic mountain brew" and it certainly is a fresh, rich pilsner, with a full golden body to it. In common with other beers in the region, it's
tangy, lemony with a considerably more peppery finish than others tasted so far. Quite carbonated too with a nice malt and hops balance. Tasty indeed. 8/10
11) Royal Extra Stout (6.6%)
Although tasted in St.Lucia, the Royal Extra Stout is actually brewed by the Carib brewery in St.Kitts & Nevis. This ripper of a stout was absolutely bloody
amazing. You knew something special was going on with just the "look" of it -- It poured the very blackest of blacks and even holding it up to a light, it stood
With an aroma of sweet cherries and aniseed with mild carbonation, the Royal Extra was malty sweet, creamy, and very very smooth. Also featured were
distinctive oatmeal flavours before a glorious black cherry finish. This was, without a doubt, the most remarkable Stout I had ever tasted -- even eclipsing the
Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. Quite simply, the Royal Extra Stout had class written all over it. 12/10
Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua.
12) Wadadli lager (4.8%)
Not only did we not want a bloody taxi, but Lady Roberts and myself decided to take public transport down to the south coast. A $6.00 return trip (for both of
us) which would have cost us $100.00 by taxi! Nelson's Dockyard is a magnificent area of restored 18th century buildings where the future Vice-Admiral
Nelson (he's the one who whipped the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805) and his Royal Navy of the Caribbean were docked. A very pretty area, we
had lunch and a couple of Wadadli's at the Admiral Inn, with the local hummingbirds keeping an eye on us.
Wadadli lager, brewed by the Antigua Brewery, was a rather pale looking offering and quite carbonated. With a light body, it had a mild hoppy beginning
before leading into a malty mid-taste with a pleasant note of peaches. More malt arrived with its (predictable) peppery finish. Pleasant without being earth
Darkwood Beach, Antigua.
13) Kalik Gold lager (7%)
Back in the Antiguan capital, St.John's, we took another local bus (#22) down the west coast to Darkwood Beach. The buses are in-fact mini-vans, with the
drivers legging it up to 60mph. If there was a pothole in the road, the driver would make sure he hit it! Highly entertaining. Darkwood Beach was tropical
personified, with its palm trees and crescent-shaped white beach and greeny/blue ocean. Just gorgeous.
Kalik Gold is an upmarket version of Kalik (see review #5). Brewed by the Commonwealth Brewery in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher
Columbus bringing mayhem and disease to the Caribbean, it proved to be so popular that it remained as a year-round brew.
This was a classy, flavoursome lager, (unlike Kalik plain) with a rich full-bodied taste featuring light malt with a dose of apples thrown in for good measure.
Vice-Admiral Nelson - "I'd give my right arm for a
pint of Chiswick Bitter and a decent roll of bogpaper!"
Back on the good ship Carnival Destiny
14) Red Stripe lager (4.7%)
What a load of crap to finish with -- Clearly, the ship's barman had a touch of scurvy because if this was the best he had to offer, then we were all in deep
Prior to 1938, Red Stripe was brewed as a rich flavouful ale, but then the original brewers, Desnoes & Geddes, switched it to a lager. Now owned by the
dreaded Diageo (owners of Guinness), Red Stripe featured a hint of fruitiness with a dominant malt flavour. Some mint flavours appeared later on, but they
couldn't save a flat, dull finish, with the taste rapidly disappearing into nothing. This was a dry one -- dry, dry, dry. And I don't give a toss about the silly
looking bottle either.
Horrible! Note to Diageo - bring back the old recipe! 2/10
And that, shipmates, is our tale of terror on the high seas. Many thanks to George, our Romanian waiter on our ship, who quietly and efficiently treated us like
Royalty (which, of course, we are) -- and all for the princely wage of $75.00 per month. And that's working 6 months solid, 7 days a week, with 2 months off.
He has a Thai wife, pregnant and stuck in Thailand with their 7-year old daughter. Nice one Carnival -- talk about indentured service. I think a mutiny is in