Friday Happy Hour: Not Your Venezuelan Abuelo’s Pola(r) Beer
Polar bears may seem out of place in the Caribbean to the uninitiated, but to lovers of Venezuelan beer, the white, fury, and sometimes furious creatures are right at home in the tropics.
Well, at least the beer that bears the bears’ name is.
Cerveza Polar is Venezuela’s leading and most legendary beer. Brewed and bottled in Caracas since 1941 by Empresas Polar, this light (5% ABV) and easy-drinking pilsener is divino for a warm day at the beach.
Knowing this as I have since visiting Isla Margarita back in the early 90’s, I was pretty excited to see the bottle pictured above upon stopping at a local convenience store in Tobago a couple December’s ago en route Pigeon Point. Only thing was, the bottle was not a Polar Beer.
The bottle pictured at the head of this post and below is actually Pola Beer. It’s produced by The Carib Brewery in Trinidad.
So, yes, there are actually two different beers hailing from the southernmost corner of the Caribbean with polar bears on their labels and in their names… mostly.
Well, it seems that some years ago, the enterprising folks at Venezuela’s Polar Beer decided that exporting to foreign lands might be a good idea. To make sure one of those foreign lands wasn’t Trinidad, the equally enterprising folks at The Carib Brewery created Pola Beer.
It was easy for me to confuse the two on sight at the convenience store in Tobago since I wasn’t paying very close attention. If you, like me, are a big fan of Venezuela’s Polar Beer, though, the difference is readily apparent with a few sips.
I find the Venezuelan Polar to be crisper and more refined than its Trini cousin, which is surprisingly devoid of much flavor or character at all. Trini Pola carries a bit of a tinny, sort of over-processed aftertaste that I don’t particularly care for as well.
Still, if you get a chance next time you’re in the far reaches of the southern Caribbean, pick up a couple bottles of each polar bear brew, conduct your own taste test and let us know which one makes your growl the loudest.
Cheers + salúd!