Ah, beer in Belize! Just the mere mention of Belikin brings me back to warm Caribbean waters lapping up against the dock and tossing back a few. Belikin has a near monopoly of the domestic beer market in Belize so can often be synonymous for beer in Belize. Meanwhile Belize craft beer is is just beginning to emerge with Belikin offering some seasonal craft beer styles and (update) a microbrewery has sprung up in San Pedro the first and currently only small brewery to be producing craft beer in Belize. So lets get to it! Here you will find our guide, reviews, recommendations, and commentary about beer in Belize.
About Beer in Belize
Belize Beer Prices
B$4 ($2US) seemed to be a pretty standard price for a beer, whether purchased from a bar or a store. In stores beers were always sold in singles. No 6-packs or cases. Odd. But bars and restaurants will typically serve them by the bucketfull.
Types of Beers in Belize
Belize Brewing Company (Belikin) brews 5 pale lagers and 4 stouts.
One peculiarity we noticed when ordering a beer in Belize is how Belizeans tend to consider stouts as something different from a “beer.” I always consider a stout a style or a type of beer, whereas in Belize if you order a Belikin, you may be asked “Do you want a stout or a beer?”
Belikin’s pale lagers include: Belikin Lager, Belikin, Premium, Lighhouse Lager, and Verano (a seasonal).
The stouts they produce are Belikin Stout, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, Chocolate Stout, and Sorrel Stout.
We review each of these beers later in this post and also discuss emerging Belize craft beer which includes additional styles than just these pale lagers and stouts.
But first lets talk about bottles, cans, and draft lines!
Glassware & Serving Vessels
The Belikins are almost always served in the bottle. No glassware unless specifically requested in which you may get a pint glass if you’re lucky, but much more likely a plastic cup or something they’d otherwise serve a cocktail in.
When served a Belikin at a restaurant or bar, you will always receive your beer with a napkin artfully wrapped around the top of the neck. But make no mistake, this display isn’t for presentation; rather its to wipe away any rust that the bottle cap has left behind. Belikin uses reusable bottles. They’re washed, sterilized, refilled, and recapped. We never noticed much rust left behind from our bottle caps, but the napkins were nice to have when there was. Plus, after removing the napkins from the bottleneck, you can reuse it as makeshift coozie!
The Belikin bottles themselves are quite thick and heavy. I started noticing this after our first few days in Belize when I kept on trying to drink what I thought was the last of my beer, but nothing hit my lips. The bottle’s weight had tricked me into thinking more was in there. And I started noticing that I was drinking them more quickly than I usually drink a beer. That’s when I checked the milliliters and did the ounce conversion to discover that Belikin beers are actually only 9.6 ounces. That’s about a fifth less than a typical 12-oz bottle. The size and the weight of the bottle appear the same though and the missing 2.4 ounces is not evident at all. I was making small talk to one Belizean about this and he said there is a running joke about it: “Belikin – more bottle, less beer.”
They use the exact same bottles for the stout as they do their pale lager. I bought a few pale lagers thinking they were stouts and vice versa. It only took me a few days to realize that although the bottle is the same, the stouts have a blue cap and the pale lagers use a green cap. Belikin’s seasonal craft beer styles also use the same bottle too, but they are more easily distinguishable by the colored foil wrapped around the bottleneck.
Belikin does not use cans but you may be able to find the some canned imports or from newcomer, Island Time Brewing’s Barefoot Blonde Ale (more on that later.)
Draft beer can be found at a few bars but was rare and limited to presumably Belikin’s top three sellers: Belikin, Stout, and Lighthouse Light.
Belize Craft Beer:
In recent years Belikin has tried to make a few specialty beers: Summer Ale, Sorrel Stout, Chocolate Stout. During our visit, I was able to get my hands on first two of the three, which I’ll review in just a bit.
Update: After our initial visit to Belize, a reader informed us about a new operation that has sprung up, producing what claims to be Belize’s only microbrew: Island Time Brewing! The Belize craft beer they are most notable for is their Barefoot Blonde Ale, which can now be found at a number of pubs throughout San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. Yet they also brew up some other craft beer varieties such as the Alpha Ale (golden ale), Daft Hound Creme Ale, Teufel Hickory Aged Bourbon Ale, and likely more tricks up their sleeves to come.
You can sometimes find these more limited Belize craft beers at Lola’s Pub & Grub in San Pedro. Ambergris Brewing Company (ABC) serves their Barefoot Blonde Ale on draft. A few other places where you can find cans of Island Time Brewing’s Barefoot Blonde Ale are: Sandy Toe’s Beach Bar & Grille, Case Picasso, Ernie’s Runway Bar, Black Orchard Restaurant & Lounge, Roadlkill Bar, and Palapa Bar. We loved Palapa Bar, so that’s our vote but can’t wait to come back to San Pedro sometime to check out these other places and try out this new Belize craft beer! For up to date info about Island Time Brewing, check out their Facebook Page.
Imported Beer in Belize:
There’s not much of a selection of import beers, as Belikin not only dominates the domestic market, but it appears they’re doing well at keeping international competitors at bay too.
Kuhbuli, a pale lager from the Dominican Republic seemed to be the most common import. You could find it at most convenience stores and some bars and restaurants. There was also a very small presence of a few other Carribean beers, such as Carib, we spotted from time to time. But with the decent-enough Belikins so prevalent, why bother dipping into a neighboring country’s suds?
Top 5 Beers of Belize:
During our time of visit (Jan-Feb 2014) there were only four main beers in Belize. Well, there was a grand total of eight if you count the locally-brewed Guiness and Belikin’s three seasonals, two of which were around when we were there. So the recommendations below are my top five of the seven Belizean beers available during our trip. We’ll have to come back to try Island Time’s offerings!
1) Belikin Stout, Stout, 6.5%
Wow, Belizeans brew a very decent stout! Its quite a pleasant change of pace for this Caribbean / Central American nation. Perhaps this English stout is a nod to their British roots, as Belize is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations headed by the Queen. And this isn’t some specialty beer for the country, they’re quite commonplace, at nearly all store, bars, and restaurants. Just remember to grab a bottle with the blue cap, otherwise you’ll end up with a pale lager. At about US$2 or so for this 6.5% brew, it’s a good bang for your buck too.
This thin stout has notes of caramel, roasted malts, a hint of licorice and a tinge of coffee. This is my go-to beer in Belize. This dark beer is still light-bodied enough to have a few of consecutively and still drinks refreshingly on a hot day. The flavor becomes a bit richer as it warms too.
2) Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (Belize Brewing Co.), Stout, 7.5%
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. “Guinness is Irish, not Belizean. What’s going on here?” Yes, the brew recipe and brand licensing is directly from the namesake Ireland brewery we all know and love; however it is Belikin Brewing Company who brews and bottles this beer here in Belize, hence why I’m reviewing it as a Belizean beer. Additionally, the brew recipe is not the same as the Guinness you’re accustomed to. In fact, I think its better.
In Ireland, Guinness began brewing Foreign Extra Stout in the early 1800s purposely adding extra hops and upping the alcohol content so that the beer would not spoil when exported on long trips to Africa or the Caribbean. Over several decades locals developed a taste for this and eventually began building international breweries to brew this recipe and licensing other breweries to brew it too, as a means to be more cost effective than exporting barrels from Ireland. You can find the Belizean version of Foreign Extra Stout in most (not all) convenience stores and supermarkets, and less often at bars & restaurants.
Belizean Brewing Co does a great job at brewing the centuries old recipe. From the get-go you can taste the nice and smooth roasted malts of this full-bodied beer. Also, the presence of the additional hops is definitely noticeable, particularly in the finish, providing a clean medium bitterness to this dry stout. A bit of coffee comes through and less so perhaps a tad bit of chocolate, although this stout is not at all sweet. The heavy roast flavor perhaps helps to hide the fact this is a 7.5% brew, as I don’t pick up on any alcohol taste. Simply a very delicious full-bodied stout. Well done.
3) Sorrel Stout, Stout, 6.5%
This is Belikin’s winter seasonal, which is a stout brewed with the sorrel, an herb used in soups, sauces, and salads. According to the Wikipedia, sorrel has a flavor of kiwi fruit or sour wild strawberries. When drinking it, I didn’t pick up on any kiwi flavor but did get a bit of strawberry, not sour though. Each time I drank a Sorrel Stout, I thought I didn’t care for it much with the first few sips.
As Heather puts it, “it has that ‘tussin’ flavor”. Perhaps it is a bit syrupy, but each time I drank this beer, it totally grew on me after the first initial sips. Perhaps the flavor profile changed when the beer warmed a bit or it might have simply grown on me. I like this slightly sweet stout and I’d say it’s the most complex tasting beer that Belikin brews. And I’ve got to give it props for it uniqueness (Sorrel!?) For me, the beer’s taste was slightly reminiscent of a Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your tastes.
4) Verano, Pale Lager, 4.8%
I was surprised to find a Belikin bottle in a grocery store wrapped in a golden foil, so was excited to blindly try this mystery beer. Turns out it was Verano, Belikin Brewing Company’s summer seasonal. “Verano” translates to summer in Spanish and the Company proclaims this beer to be “summer in a bottle.” Purchasing the beer in January, I now question its freshness. It was still a tasty beer and I preferred it to the regular lager, but I think perhaps due to the aging some of the flavors may have been muted a bit while others came through more. Would love to try this fresh.
This lager had some nice yet slight orange peel flavor to it and a just bit of spiciness to it too. The beer carried a minor sweetness to it and also very light tang to it as well. The brew was zesty while also very refreshing. I could easily see myself crushing a few of these during the summer heat.
5) Belikin Lager, Pale Lager, 4.8%
This seems an appropriate pick to round out my top five Belizean beers. It was the most commonplace throughout Belize, I assume the top seller, and a solid Central American style pale lager. Although somewhat bland and watery, it was very refreshing in the afternoon heat and a perfect choice to switch over to when simply not wanting another stout. Make sure to grab a bottle with a green cap or else you may accidently wind up with a stout.
Tastes of grains and is pleasantly slightly sweet and perhaps subtly floral. Only a slight flavor of hops that is almost missed altogether for a mild bitterness. Very smooth, clean, and thirst-quenching. A great beach beer and much better than most all the Mexican pale lager equivalents we had during the weeks prior to arrival in Belize.
There’s only two more beers, so might as well review them too.
Belikin Premium, Pale Lager, 4.8% – I enjoyed this beer quite a bit but it didn’t stand out in a major way from the regular Belikin Beer. It was similarly bland yet very refreshing and drinkable. A bit darker, maltier, a fuller bodied, but only slightly. Still a very easy and light brew. Much better than Mexican and even US macro equivalents.
Lighthouse Lager, Pale Lager, 4.2% – This is Belikin’s ‘light’ offering. It has less alcohol and I’m presuming fewer calories too. It’s good, crisp, and refreshing. Maybe it was just the one I had, but it seemed as if there was higher carbonation on the Lighthouse Lager then Belikin’s other lager offerings. I’d drink this over a Bud Light or Coors Light any day, yet I would probably opt for any of Belikin’s offerings over this.
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