Belize Brewing Company - Family + Beer

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Belize City, Belize

The breeze from the Caribbean sea is strong. Everybody is busy with last touches, getting all ready. Soon the buses will start arriving from all the distribution centers country-wide, bringing brewery employees and their family to the city. It is Family Day at Belize Brewing Company Ltd. The brewery is part of Bowen & Bowen, the beverage group owned by Michael Bowen, third generation Bowen, third generation of brewing beer, making soft drinks and selling Crystal water to all the people of Belize.

It started all long before Belize became independent.  Pirates were gone; the land was still called British Honduras and a father and son (Michael’s father, Sir Barry) created a brewery in a fifty-fifty partnership. It was not easy that first year and Cerveceria Hondureña from San Pedro Sula, Honduras came to help. They invested with an old copper German brew house from 1928 and the brewery was on track.

On my first trip to Belize in the late nineties the brew house was still in operation under the legendary guidance of brew master Alfred Teufel, a brew master like they don’t produce anymore. Alfred knew how to make good beer from nothing.  Today, brewing operations are in the firm hands of brew master Nolan Michael, the first Belizean to ever hold the title. The beer is better too. A new brew house - really an entire new brewery - now produces about 145,000 hl of fresh Belizean beer each year.

Today at Family Day everybody is present; soccer, tug-of-war, volleyball competitions between distribution centers are in full swing. Still today, Bowen & Bowen’s fleet of trucks, boats, pick-ups and motorcycles will drop you off a crate of their beer anywhere in the country when you order 24 bottles - you can mix them up the way you like, a committed work force and staff. The two flagships are Belikin, a European lager the people here call Regular, however nothing "regular" about it, the last all malt classic German lager in Central America. A rich malty character, well lagered, a touch of saltiness what makes this a lovely beer today for sure with the sea breeze.

Second beer is Belikin Stout, very popular with the Garifuna population along the coast, from Belize City to Stann Creek and Dangriga. Stout, a beer rich in tradition and alcohol with 6.4% ABV, a unique beer to drink in the sun. If you really want to drink it the right way then you need to let it warm up and put an egg in it.  A real gem is their Christmas beer, Sorrel Stout made with a local fruit (Hibiscus – Flor de Jamaica) used for pies and tea and now also for beer. Rich sweetness mixed with the coffee, caramel and chocolate flavours of the stout. If you find yourself in December in Belize, make sure you try this one.

Time to have a beer now and catch up with friends. Kids are having fun with all the rides and the water truck. Noon, people are staring to line up for lunch. A Family Day tradition is stewed chicken with rice and beans, some plantain as well, a classic Belize dish. Shelley, Michael’s older sister, normally the Marketing Director rest of the year, took care of lunch today. She brought every little caterer in Belize together to get 3,000 meals ready for the entire crew today. I wonder and ask myself, if Belize Brewing Company were part of ABI would their still be a Family Day here in Belize? Glad that is not the case and wonderful that here is another brewery that takes it’s sense of duty to people and country serious and does not shy away from responsibilities in the community. Thanks Michael, thanks Shelley, again a great Bowen & Bowen Family Day.

Go deh Strong !

Floris

proost: [noun] “cheers!” in Flemish; usually said when drinking.