Sunday, April 8, 2012

Experience the Bahamas

Bahamian Beach
I think it is time for another awesome guest post... so, here is one from my sweet sister. Enjoy!!

As an idealistic anthropologist who is plagued with perpetual curiosity in all things, I love to experience new places and new people.  I am also an avid subscriber to the belief that in order to experience a new place or understand a people, one must first try the local beer.  One of my first experiences testing this ground-breaking theory took place over the course of three Study Abroad trips to the Bahamas (2009, 2010 & 2011) in which I was part of an archaeological survey on the island of San Salvador.  During my multiple stays in the Bahamas, on New Providence, San Salvador, and Abaco islands, I had the experience of drinking  the Beer of the Bahamas.  While the Bahamas are synonymous with fruity rum drinks served in the slaughtered shells of coconuts (and Casino Royale), the beer of the Bahamas is noteworthy for its taste, history, and experience.

In the Bahamas, there are three beers that you will see well stocked in nearly every bar, whether its a tourist-packed club in downtown Nassau, or a smoke-filled shack kept hidden from the tourist’s eye.  Two Bahamian beers, Kalik and Sands, are standard.  Also surprisingly prominent throughout the Bahamas is Guiness.  

Of the two Bahamian beers I have thoroughly “studied” during my time in the Bahamas, Kalik is by far my favorite.  Pronounced “Kuh-lik”, its smooth and refreshing taste and texture compliments perfectly with the intense sub-tropical sun and salty ocean air.  There are subtle hints of Mexican cerveca in taste and light body, but there is something unique about Kalik that separates it from other beers.  Much like the Bahamas themselves, Kalik represents years of European influence, and a constant connection to the ocean sub-tropical climate.  The result is truly Bahamian.

The name Kalik itself is a reference to the traditional national festival of the Bahamas called Junkanoo.  Each Boxing Day and New Years Eve, thousands of Bahamians crowd the streets of downtown Nassau with drums, cowbells, and elaborate handmade costumes and parade throughout the entire night and into morning.  The festival has roots in traditional West African ceremonies brought to the New World by the slave trade.  The story goes that slaves were allowed a break from work during the holidays, during which they would meet under moonlight and celebrate their shared ancestry.  Resisting years of subjugation, they made do with with what they had readily available; long grass turned into costumes, goatskin stretched into drums, and cowbells became instruments.  Still used today, goatskin drums thunder during Junkanoo while tied cowbells ring out the sound “ka-lik-ka-lik-ka-lik”!  Hence the name of the national beer, Kalik. 

Today Junkanoo is a symbol of national identity, and Kalik beer proudly honors this history in its name, unique taste, and local distribution on the islands.  In a country that historically has been governed by powers abroad and whose people have triumphed and persevered through hardships, Kalik is truly a Bahamian symbol.  A symbol of generations of resistence and national identity, Kalik’s refreshing taste is perfect for long days under an intense sun and  near an endless rocking ocean.  After sunset, Kalik passes around friends in crowded bars, sways and spills on dirty dance floors, and attracts sand on condensation as millions of stars bounce and reflect off still waters.  The taste and history of Kalik makes it a unique beer, but it is the experience itself of having a Kalik while a world away is what makes it exceptional.

Thank you Christie for your very interesting take on some exotic beers. Next time, put me in your suitcase!

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