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Aruba's Golden Brew

Oct 31, 2007
After spending a few days in Aruba, you might notice a unique brand of beer served at every bar and restaurant on the island. Balashi, Aruba's favorite local brew, is one of the most popular products produced in Aruba. Starting small just ten years ago, the Balashi Brewery has grown into one of the world's most acclaimed beers. Meanwhile, the Balashi Brewery has constructed a truly state of the art facility complete with a European-style beer garden that has quickly become a favorite destination for traveling families and locals alike.

As the island of Aruba retains much of its Dutch colonial charm, it makes sense that Balashi has always been produced using the finest European brewing traditions. Klaus Eckert, the renowed German brewmaster, experimented with brews during Balashi's early days, eventually developing the brewery's signature beer. The resultant variety of pilsner exhibits a deep golden hue, minimal bitterness and the distinct aroma of fresh hops. The world-class taste of Balashi is created using hand-selected Scottish malt and German hops, allowing the beer to compete with Europe's finest brews year in and year out.

While many beers have gained the favor of judges and beer lovers throughout the world, few have earned as much respect as Balashi in so short a time. While the mother company of the Balashi Brewery - Brouwerij Nacional Balashi - was founded over ten years ago, the first batch of Balashi was not brewed until May 1999. It took only two years for the awards to start rolling in from prestigious brewing competitions, beginning with the 2001 Gold Medal in the Monde Selection at Brussels. Courtesy of a $12 million state-of-the-art brewing facility, the consistent quality of Balashi earned the Grand Gold medal in 2004.

If you visit the facility, you will have the opportunity to participate in the free daily tour. Visitors are guided along a catwalk above the brewery floor while the guide outlines the complex beer making process - from the earliest stages of the fermentation to the bottling and packaging. As Balashi has become a source of local pride, the tours are always energetic and provide an atmosphere that the whole family can enjoy. The free one hour tour takes place each weekday at 10 am.

After touring the Balashi facility, you should definitely take some time to relax in the brewery's famous beer garden. Modeled after the inviting courtyards of Holland - Aruba's mother country - Balashi's beer garden has quickly become a favorite destination of locals and tourists alike. Besides having a chance to taste Aruba's award winning brew in its freshest state, you can enjoy an incredible view of the island's unspoiled countryside from every seat in the beer garden. Children can sample the brewery's special non-alcoholic brew, a healthy drink known as Malta. Brewed in the same fashion as Balashi's beer, Malta is not fermented and the final product is a slightly sweet, dark colored beverage unique to Aruba.

Oddly enough, just a few years ago, ordering a "Balashi Cocktail" at a restaurant or bar in Aruba would have provided you a glass of fresh drinking water. Named for the island's desalination plant located in the region known as Balashi, the water has since become an integral part of Aruba's brewing success. As the name Balashi comes from a pair of Aruac native words meaning "near the sea," it seems an appropriate title for one of the Caribbean's most celebrated beers. Additionally, as the brewery is located amongst the remnants of a once-vibrant gold mining industry in the Balashi region, the distinctive glow of Aruba's beer seems all the more connected to the island's history and unique landscape.

As sampling local products is often one of the great joys of traveling, make sure you visit the brewery that has quickly become a source of national pride for all Arubans.
About the Author
This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes select pieces about vacationing in the Caribbean and travel in Aruba for the Marriott Resorts.
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