Balashi Beer, like a lot of things in Aruba, always makes me smile. The island’s newest (it’s only been around about ten years) and now only homegrown beer (we’ll discuss Amstel Bright another day); it is by far the leading brew of choice when you’re having a good time on this “One Happy Island.”
A little about Balashi Beer
Brewed from imported Scottish malt and hops shipped in from Germany, Balashi is your typical Caribbean beer—a light, thirst-quenching pilsener with a pleasant, nice golden color. It also sports not a lot of foam and a flavor that the brewer describes as a “soft to the tongue bitterness.”
It’s not so light that they couldn’t find a way to make a “light” version of it. One exists, though I never tried it. But it’s more on the less-filling than tastes great side to me.
I’m not saying it tastes bad. And I’m not saying it’s a great beer. I’m just saying it’s not very exciting. Beer snobs need not apply.
Anyway, who needs excitement in a bottle or can when you’re in spending your day in Aruba? The excitement is all around you, which is a big part of the reason Balashi makes me smile. Just seeing this photo reminds me of the afternoon I spent at Charlie’s 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, as only a photo, it’s drawing me back.
Another reason Balashi makes me smile: the name
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. But there’s more.
Back in the late-1990s as the brewery was just getting started, the owners held a contest among the people of Aruba to name the new beer. The name Balashi won out in a vote among the Aruban people, leaving no doubt that Balashi is truly the people’s beer through and through.
Best quality, Best taste?
The last reason it makes me smile is written right on the can – Brewed with Aruba’s pristine water… Best quality, Best taste!
Kinda’ makes you think there’s some fantastic natural spring hiding somewhere in a remote part of the island 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 and completely safe to drink straight out of the tap, is far less than exotic. Or, as described on EnjoyAruba.com:
Drinking water: There is no need to buy bottled water, Aruba’s water from the tab [sic] is praised for its excellent quality and taste. 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.
Oh well, it’s still a fine beer that feels fresh and smooth when ice cold, perfect for Aruba. And the fact that it’s pretty much only available in Aruba makes me wish I had one in-hand right now.