Friday Happy Hour: Three Reasons to Love Aruba’s Balashi Beer
Balashi, like a lot of things in Aruba, always makes me smile. The island’s newest (it’s only been around about 10 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.”
Brewed from imported Scottish malt and hops shipped in from Germany, Balashi is your typical Caribbean beer – a light, thirst-quenching pilsener with a nice golden color, not a lot of foam and a flavor that the brewer describes as a “soft 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 definitely more on the less-filling than tastes great side to me.
I’m not saying it tastes bad. 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 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 prior to heading to the airport. It was my last taste of Aruba, and even now as just a photo, it’s drawing me back.
Another reason Balashi makes me smile: the name. Just say Balashi out loud a couple times… it just sounds like fun, right?
The name was 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.
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 amazing natural spring hiding somewhere in a remote part of the island where they get this ultra-pure water that gives Balashi a special, uniquely Aruban falvor. 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 tap) 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. The fact that it’s pretty much only available in Aruba makes me wish I had one in-hand right now.