Balashi Beer: 3 Reasons to Love Aruba’s Only Homegrown Brew
Balashi Beer, like a lot of things in Aruba, always makes me smile. The island’s newest (it’s only been around since the 1990s) and now only homegrown beer (we’ll discuss Amstel Bright another day) is by far the leading brew of choice when you’re having a good time on this “One Happy Island.”
The People’s Beer of Aruba
Just say Balashi out loud a couple of times. It just sounds like fun, right?
The name is derived from Bala Bala and Balana, both words from the language of the original inhabitants of Aruba, the Aruac Indians. In either case, the words mean “near the sea,” which of course appeals to me.
The name, though, wasn’t just chosen at random by marketing/product development execs.
Back in the late-1990s as the brewery was just getting started, the owners held a contest among the entire population of Aruba to name the new beer. The name Balashi won out in an island-wide vote, leaving no doubt that Balashi is truly the Aruban people’s beer through and through.
Best Quality, Best Taste?
Brewed from imported Scottish malt and German hops, Balashi is your typical Caribbean beer—a light, thirst-quenching pilsener with a nice golden color. To be sure, it makes a great companion on balmy beach days under the warm Aruban sun.
As for the flavor, the brewer describes Balashi as “soft to the tongue bitterness.” A prime contributor to Balashi’s unique flavor is the local water used in its production. As noted proudly on the can, Balashi is…
Brewed with Aruba’s pristine water… Best quality, Best taste!
Kinda’ makes you think there’s some mystical natural spring hiding somewhere in a remote part of Aruba where they get this ultra-pure water that gives Balashi an exceptional, uniquely Aruban flavor. You know, something like The Source in Nevis.
Umm, not so much. The water in Aruba, though tasty, is far less than exotic. Or, as described on EnjoyAruba.com:
Aruba’s drinking water flows from the world’s second largest desalinization plant. It is not only perfectly pure and safe to drink, it’s also very delicious.
My Balashi Beer Taste Test
So, how does this uniquely Aruban, light and refreshing beer sit with me?
Well, for my taste, the bonafides of this light beer lean more toward less-filling than tastes great.
(Editor’s note: Regular Balashi is not so light that they couldn’t find a way to make a “light” version of it. One exists, though I’ve to try it. We’ll be sure to share a review once I do, I of course.)
I’m not saying it tastes bad. At the same time, though, I’m not saying it’s a great beer either. I’m just saying it’s not very exciting to me.
Beer snobs need not apply.
Anyway, who needs excitement in a bottle or a can when you’re in Aruba? The excitement here is all around you! Just seeing this photo reminds me of the afternoon I spent at Charlie’s Bar in San Nicholas, my lunch at Zeerover in Savantea, and happy hour at Moomba on Palm Beach.
I took this photo at my hotel just before heading to the airport. It was my last taste of Aruba. Even now the image is drawing me back for another taste of a beer I like (mostly) in a place that I love.