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Red Stripe: Get To Know The Best Jamaican Beer

With the no-frills bottle and the forever amusing ‘Hooray Beer’ promotional ads, Red Stripe beer is near impossible not to like. In fact, the best Jamaican beer has been capturing the connoisseur’s interest since they first launched in 1928. However, a label and great marketing campaigns do not tell you much about its taste. Yet, through the decades, this amazing thirst quencher has been branded the Jamaican beer.

Red Stripe History

Red Stripe beer was first launched in the early 1930s by the Galena Brewing Company in Galena, Illinois. During the depression, the company faced financial difficulties and sold the beer recipe to a British firm who took it to Jamaica. The beer was brewed under a UK license from Thomas H. Geddes and Eugene Desnoes. The two entrepreneurs formed the Bedford-based brewers also known as the Desnoes and Geddes Company limited. The first branded brew was produced in 1928. This also constituted the very first brewery in Jamaica.

In 1938, the recipe was acquired by Paul H. Geddes (Thomas Hargreaves Geddes son) and Bill Martindale. Prior to acquiring the company, the beer was more of a heavy, dark ale. However, the noteworthy Paul Geddes traveled the world to learn from other brewing masters and experts and would soon return home bringing all of the knowledge of these experience to perfect his own brew.

The profusely dark brew was no longer. In its place, the company perfected their brew with a much lighter tap and piquancy. Then in 1962, Jamaica gained independence from Britain. At this point in history, the beer was well renowned. By 2003, the beer received a gold medal in the Monde Selection. In addition, the Red Stripe Light won the Silver Medal.

TAKEAWAY: In 2005, Red Stripe volume of export consumption finally surpassed the domestic consumption. Compare this success to Red Stripe’s failed US launch and botched marketing strategy in 1985. The initial launch packaged Red Stripe in a bottle nearly trademark infringingly close to Heineken’s. Beer connoisseurs were put off by the weak effort and Red Stripe’s sales performed poorly. However, Red Stripe would have the last laugh. Over the course of 20 years, they would rebrand and succeed in the US market like never before!

Red Stripe Today

Today, the famous Jamaican beer is brewed to excellence utilizing the newest technology combined with traditional brewing techniques. Likewise, the fermentation process undergoes a demanding first-rate quality control procedure. As a result, the prominent red stripes maintain the reputation of being one of the best thirst quenching beers in Jamaica.

Satisfying Flavor

With the full-bodied flavor being a taste of the past, the new pale ale caters more to the lighter side of life. It is a simple refreshing beer classified as 4.7% ABV pale lager. Red Stripe is ideal for a hot summer’s day on the sandy beaches of Jamaica. The lager is often referred to as refreshing, uplifting and light. What is more, many Jamaican natives use the beer in traditional recipes, especially for beer battered fried fish – a popular finger food.

Red Stripe Bold

This is a specialty Red Stripe that is a touch darker than the regular brew. Overall, it has a higher ABV at 6.0% instead of the regular 4.7%. The tad stronger brew has a bit of burnt sugar and caramel flavor with no aftertaste. Harboring a medium body that goes down nice and smooth, the bold version is a nice change of pace. However, some say that there is a grassy hops flavor that lingers. And frankly, many prefer the fragrant green hops aftertaste.

Hooray Beer

Red Stripe has been a source of pride for countless Jamaicans. In fact, many Jamaicans knew about Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) way before they knew a Coke back when Coke was very savvy. The distinctive taste of the brew won many over. In 2001, the television advertising campaign launched the catch-all phrase “Hooray, beer.” It was a big hit that played the easy vibe and “easy now” ambiance of Jamaican life and beer.

Island Experience

When traveling to Jamaica a few years back, I must say that one of the best highlights of my vacation was relaxing on the beach with a Jamaican cold brew. Red Stripe Bold was actually my favorite. It had enough dark to satisfy my tastes yet was light enough to quench my thirst under the golden sun.

I also tried many different food vendors. There was one in particular that had fresh fish that was fried in Jamaican brew. It was fantastic – some of the flakiest fish I have ever tasted and a perfect example of Jamaican street food.

So, what is, in your opinion, the best Jamaican beer? Do you like Red Stripe Bold or some other type of Red Stripe? Perhaps you prefer Jamaican ginger beer? Tells us about it in the comments section below.

About Maxie DaCosta

AJamaicaExperience is a joint venture between two Jamaican brothers, Robin Treston Sr. and Maxie DaCosta Sr. Maxie and his brother hail from Walkerswood St. Ann, Jamaica. He loves sharing authentic recipes that have been passed down for generations in his family. Maxie also enjoys writing about the rich culture and history of Jamaica (and the rest of the Caribbean islands for that matter).

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