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Monday, April 20, 2015

Bahamas - Day 4 : Bahamian Brewery

After a much needed and well deserved good nights sleep we awoke to another glorious day on the island of Grand Bahama. Famished, we made our way down the brick path once more to the resort restaurant for breakfast. Chatting while enjoying the breakfast sampler, we decided we would try to avoid the sun for one more day and planned to check out the Bahamian Brewery.

After finishing breakfast we returned to the room to shower, since the night before we were so burnt that the idea of a hot shower didn't appeal to any one of us. Feeling clean and refreshed, we packed up for the day and took to the road once more in our Nissan March. The more I drive the "little shitbox" as we have become accustomed to calling it, the more I'm convinced it's just a riding lawnmower with 4 doors and at any minute we might loose a wheel.

When we arrived at the Bahamian Brewery, we paid for our tour and were greeted by our tour guide, Chrissy. The Bahamian Brewery is unique in that it is a 100% Bahamian-owned company, owned and operated by Jimmy Sands, who grew up on Long Island, Bahama. Chrissy immediately lead us to the sweltering loft above the factory floor, where we witnessed the newly made bottles of Sands, the Bahamian Brewery's trademark beer, being filled, capped, and labeled. Passing the assembly line, Chrissy lead us to the brew house, where the ingredients are mixed and fermented to make beer. 

 Bahamian Brewery's beers are made with the four traditional beer ingredients: hops, malted barley, yeast and water. They begin with the malted barley, milling it and adding it to warm water in the mash tin where it will be allowed to sit for three or four hours to allow the release of sugars from the barley. Following the steeping process, the mash moves to another tankard to for boiling and adding hops to the mix, with varying flavors added for the different types of beer. After the third tankard, the mixture moves back to the middle tankard, where a whirlpool is utilized to spin the mixture, separating the grains from the liquid and cooling the mixture so the fermentation process can begin.

After showing us the brewing process, Chrissy walked us through the loft that looked out onto the assembly line; where bottles of Sands from their bottle recycling program and from the factory are sterilized, filled, pasteurized, and sealed. Above the assembly is the laboratory, where inspectors take various bottles from beer batches and test the product for consistency and bacteria. Running 5 days/week, the Bahamian Brewery produces 18-40k bottles of beer each day, making for an average of 7.5 million bottles per year. After seeing the extent of the brewery, Chrissy took us to Jimmy's Top Bar, the brewery's tasting room.

Once inside the air conditioned tasting room, we were provided with samples of each variety of beer made at the brewery. We began with their light beer, the Sands Light, which contained only 90 calories and had an ABV of 4.2%. This was an exceptionally light beer, and our group had trouble tasting any beer flavor at all. Following the Sands Light was a sampling of the original Sands brew, with an ABV of 5.3%. Though the original was said to have more bite, courtesy of the extra hoppy flavor, the four of us could hardly taste the difference between the Sands Light and the original Sands. After the Sands, we sampled their malt liquor, Bushcrack, which had a lighter, sweeter taste. Chrissy made sure to inform us though the beer looked and tasted light, it was not, as the beer had an ABV of 5.8% and only comes in 16 oz cans.

Following the Bushcrack was their amber ale, which was commissioned by Atlantis resort on Nassau Island, as an exclusive beer to the resort. The amber ale is named Virgil's, after the person who commissioned it for the resort, and Chrissy informed us that the ale's smooth texture and higher ABV of 6% makes it a surprisingly strong beer. The last beer we tried was their dark stout, called Strongback. Similar to a Guinness in color, the Strongback was less bitter, a little lighter, and hinted at molasses. As an added bonus, Chrissy had us try the non-alcoholic beer made at Bahamian Brewery, called Triple B. Triple B is a malt drink, dark like a stout, and incredibly sweet. Our group tasted hints of raisin, sweet potato, molasses and Coke, ultimately deciding that the drink was not to our tastes. We were allowed to hang out for another hour and have full glasses of the beers we had tasted, with most of us sticking with the Virgil's and the Bushcrack.

Upon leaving the brewery, we decided to check out Deadman's Reef in the west end of the island for a future snorkeling trip. As we drove past the harbour, we entered the small west end towns of Bartlett Hill, Hannah Hill, Russell Town, Jones Town and Holmes Rock. The streets were crowded with youth dressed in a variety of school uniforms showing the islands religious tendencies. These town's also showed the abject poverty that many people on the island endure. 

After about 20 minutes we saw a sign for Deadman's reef and a small dirt road heading towards the water. The sandy/dirt road was flanked by mangroves and finally ended at a small parking lot next to a small building. We walked along the boardwalk to the check in window where we learned that since we had our own equipment it was $3.25 to have admission and access to all the facilities. With that information in hand we would surely return.

While early for dinner we were all hungry and decided to stop by Pier 1. Everyone we have spoken with described this place as the nicest restaurant on the island. It is also widely know for its daily evening shark feeding which unfortunately we were much too early to see. The menu was heavily stacked with seafood and I decided to pick Mahi Mahi with seasoned rice and fresh vegetables paired with a tropical piƱa colada. Grace followed suit, duplicating my order while Dan and Chris each picked the Chicken Parmesan as their entree. Waiting for the entrees, we had an opportunity to enjoy the view which included many Margaret fish, a lone sand shark, and countless other small tropical fish swimming below.

The entrees were served quickly since we were the only ones in the restaurant. The mahi mahi was so tender and delicious I could have easily had more. We were all fairly quiet during dinner which is typical for us when the food is so delicious. After we all greedily scarfed down dinner it was time to review the dessert menu. The dessert menu showed just as much promise with my favorite key lime pie listed and it definitely didn't disappoint. When the bill came I was surprised when the group decided not to let me pay my share and call it my Birthday dinner even though my birthday isn't until Saturday.

When we finally made it back to the resort we decided to don our bathing suits and enjoy the pool, hot tub and shuffleboard. Chris and Grace showed great improvement and e finished with a tied score of 2:2 when we decided to take a dip in the pool. The pool was refreshing and we all enjoyed a good long soak with great conversation before we shifted to the hot tub. While still recovering from the sunburn we all managed to enjoy the warmth of the hot tub.

After a long day we head back to the room for some tv before turning in for the night. 

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