On the Civilizing Beauty that is Beer

Yes, these are ice crystals in the bottles.
Yes, these are ice crystals in the bottles.

There’s a legit anthropological theory that says humans went from nomad hunters and gatherers to sedentary farmers because of beer, which thus becomes responsible for the greatest shift in the history of humanity. Alcohol, which we have been producing since about 7000-5000 BC (Sept. 2018 edit, 13000 yr old “brewery” found in Israel) is also credited (along with other drugs) with the birth of art and religious thought. True that. I’m not sure I’m prepared to go that far or get drawn into a debate about the evils of the materialism that comes from a sedentary society or the origins of religious experience (booze? magic mushrooms? aliens? divine revelation?). What I can say, is that for the Diving & Chillin’ Club, the chillin’ usually involves some sort of fermentation.

That is in fact green "rum" and no you probably should not have it. Stick with a beer.
That is in fact green “rum” and no you probably should not have it. Stick with a beer.

The Egyptians that built the pyramids did so while on a regular intake of beer, something on the order of ten pints daily. The Sumerians had a goddess of brewing called Ninkasi and in catholicism there are at least five patron saints of beer and brewing. Yay for catholicism. Through much of the medieval world beer was a daily staple.  Daily medieval beer (or ale) for people of all ages. Why you may ask? Well, my own semi educated guess is that beer, unlike water, did not get you sick (hello cholera and typhoid fever), plus in a context of constant near famine and no refrigeration, it packed a few extra calories and did not spoil as readily as some other foods/drinks.

So we partake in that hallowed history and build on it. The D&C crew drinks, to various extents, and I think there are few greater pleasures than having a cold one while filling out log books with friends and family, which is a) the same thing b) pretty much what makes life worth living. You get the salt out of your mouth, refresh your body and spirit, and basically enjoy the best of what life has to offer. Huzzah!

Not all beers are created equal, some of these were very meh.
Not all beers are created equal, some of these were very meh, and don’t freak out, these were basically shots.

As you would expect that’s controversial for some people. They will be quick to point out that you shouldn’t drink and dive, and don’t you know that in a third of diving accidents, alcohol had been consumed in the last 12 hours? True, and probably in 100% of accidents the people involved had breakfast. Correlation and causation are not the same thing. Currently, I’m not aware that there is a study proving the link between moderate alcohol consumption after diving and diving accidents the next day.

Moderation is obviously the key here.

Yes, if you get ploughed you should not dive the next morning. If you do you’re just looking for trouble and that’s super douchey because you endanger yourself and everybody you dive with.

However I can hear objections anyways: drinking even a little can have deleterious effects on your health when diving, especially if you drink and dive everyday.

At this point I’m like, WOAH!  Drinking and diving everyday? Like if you were on vacation or something? Stop it, no one can do that! We’re only human!

And cue the sarcasm beers.

Sarcasm beers
Sarcasm beers

Ultimately do you know what the best way to avoid diving accidents is? Not to dive at all. But are we ready to live that kind of life? I don’t think so. That’s how I see having a beer after a dive or bacon once in a while.

I’m not advocating wanton debauchery and making an ass of yourself, far from it, but to me the drinking and diving debate often smacks of puritanism and nanny state mentality. Drink plenty of water throughout the afternoon and evening, have alcohol in moderation according to what you can handle, and be the boss of you.

So let me get off my horse that was about to get higher and higher, I was ready to launch into a rant about how no one lives forever, and I’ll return to the beauty that is beer.

Wherever we go we try to have local beers if at all possible. I mean if I want to drink Coors Light (don’t knock it, there’s a place for Coors Light, in the world), I’ll stay at home. Discovering new things is such a big part of the fun of travelling, here’s a few we enjoyed throughout the years.

Voted best Mexican beer in a completely unscientific survey
Voted best Mexican beer in a completely unscientific survey

You’ve all had Corona and Modelo, both quality refreshing beers and Mexico has a surprising variety of beers, including many dark ones. Our completely unscientific research chose the Pacifico as our favourite beer (of that trip). How was this determined? It was the beer people regularly came back with when asked to go and get beer.

Because Bahamas
Because Bahamas

It’s name is supposedly the onomatopoeia of the sound goat bells make, it’s our go to beer in the Bahamas. We noticed a lot of the locals drinking Bud Light instead. Price? Taste? Coolness factor? We don’t know and stuck with the Kalik, tried a few other local brews but this one came out on top.

Sands is another good one from the Bahamas,  it’s taste was more grainy, to my rustic palate not as clean a finish, but maybe it would pair well with some food? Oh yeah, I went there. What, I like to dive, drink beer and I can’t think of flavour pairings?

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As far as I know, Belikin is the only beer brewed in Belize. I mean sure, you’ll find Heineken in San Pedro but to me this was just more interesting.

Belize=Belikin
Belize=Belikin

The regular Belikin is a bit more full bodied than your usual “island lager” and it’s quite delicious. If you have time to spare at the airport (and are not scared of drinking before or after a flight) order two at the little bar at the far end just to see how the gentleman pours them.

Used to be from Venezuela
Used to be from Venezuela

Polar, previously brewed in Venezuela, is now brewed in Florida and found on the islands just north of Venezuela. There’s something political there but I’m not sure what. Came in cute 200ml format (that 6.78 oz), so you burn about the same amount of calories opening the beer as you ingest from drinking it. Blonde and light like the day is long.

For Curaçao, just not brewed there.
For Curaçao, just not brewed there.

It’s brewed in Barbados exclusively for Curaçao. It recently appeared on the market. It’s a thirst crusher.

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Carib, brewed originally in Trinidad and Tobago now with breweries in Grenada and St Kitts & Nevis. Found in a lot of places, it’s a good, dependable light tasting beer. I think I should have taken tasting notes, maybe that’s something I’ll start doing.

One place we did not get local beers was on a recent trip to a somewhat remote-ish resort. I was looking forward to Salva Vida, Barena and Port Royal Export. Most of all I was looking forward to Salva Vida, good memories from a previous trip, but got this instead. First world problems yes?

Italian cerveza, which we thought was better con limon.
Italian cerveza, more vactiony con limon.

Direct from northern Italy. Very drinkable.

As you know, along with Guadeloupe and Martinique, St-Martin is French territory in the Caribbean. So in many ways it is France there, which is awesome for the wine and cheese selection, but it also allowed us to stumble upon this. A shameful secret from my past.

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Tequila and lime flavoured beer. So much sweeter than I remembered. Let’s just say I’m good for a couple of years. It does however remind me of an interesting drinkskultur (that’s a fake German word I’m making up, it’s going to catch on) difference between most of North America and Europe, but more specifically with France; beer cocktails. Sure you got the Michelada in some Southern states, but that’s pretty much it, most places won’t even make you a Black Velvet (stout and cider, there’s a dirty joke there somewhere). France on the other hand has an avalanche of beer cocktails ranging from the classic, such as a Picon-Bière  (that’s beer with a bitter orange aperitif, which is very good if no longer popular) to scary, like the Diesel (cola and beer) or, I think it was called a Fresh Lawn or something like that (but in French), which was green mint liqueur and beer. I’m unwell just thinking about it.

The D&C has an official beer cocktail, yes we do. It’s similar to a shandy but it’s made with ginger ale or ginger beer instead of the Sprite-ish lemonades the Brits use. Because we are all so creative it’s called a Beer & Ginger.

Beer & Ginger: 2/3 beer + 1/3 ginger soda

It’s refreshing, it has lower alcohol volume (for when you drink before noon or 10 am) and it’s a nice change when there’s nothing to drink but beer. If you have one, please do toast our good health and safe dives please.

The way I see it, the beers at the end of a dive are like the fire around which a clan gathered in the paleolithic darkness. Stories are exchanged, important things discussed. The monsters and the darkness are kept at bay. It is the liquid embodiment of all that is good with the world and nothing short of a little pin prick of light in the Night. For a short while, all is well with the world. I’m not willing to give that up.

I can get intense about such things sometimes.

 

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