I was born in Jamaica, and specifically Negril, which is fifty minutes to the west of Montego Bay. Negril was once an untouched paradise featuring seven miles of white-sand beach, but by the time I was in my teens, it was an unabashed tourist/beach town in which everything was available. I spent a lot of unsupervised free time in that city pretty much every summer until I graduated from college. I experienced a lot of firsts there.
But my first beer was boring. I don't even remember it. Some sip at my mom's restaurant of something. Some memory of a Red Stripe, which is pretty much just Jamaican Budweiser. Some beer, some time.
Then there was that Burning Spear concert where I decided to have the other most popular beer in Jamaica. Dragon Stout. It might have been Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, those two run together in my memory. Both were thick, syrupy, sweet, full-bodied (I remember them as often flat, but it's been a while) -- good stouts that survived rough conditions. Both stronger than Red Stripe. Both the biggest beers I'd ever tasted before.
I tried a few.
There was this one young girl at the show that was my age. I could see her inching away from her mother. So rare, an orange-bellied parrot just sitting there. During intermission, after a few stouts, I went to make my move...
... and dropped my damn beer bottle. Right on a rock. Seemed like the only rock in the concert venue. Thing exploded like a gun shot and everyone turned and was looking at me as I was obviously trying to walk up on this girl. Did I mention I kind of hit puberty late, that's relevant here. I was about 5'2"/105 freshman year in high school.
Nothing drastic happened. They didn't kick me out. They should have, but they didn't. There's not really a drinking age in Jamaica. Or not one that I was aware of or one that was enforced.
A security guard came over and told me to "Clean up ya damned mess" and the girl's mother hugged her tighter and I cleaned it up and retreated back in the crowd for the second set.
Really, that was one my earliest salvos in dating.
Desnoes & Geddes' Dragon Stout
Appearance: 3.5/5 Dark brown with a sandy head.
Smell: 3.5/5 Chocolate, coffee, a bit of fruit maybe.
Taste: 3/5 Sweet, milky chocolate. Since, I've had stouts with more robust taste. Back then? Blew my mind.
Mouthfeel: 2.5/5 Sweet, again. Is that a mouthfeel? Okay, full mouthaste with a bit of flatness near the end.
Overall: 3/5 Not your best stout. But maybe your best native Jamaican beer.
Thanks to SFCoverArt for the picture. If you like fantasy baseball, come try to beat me in a free-to-enter $300 tournament -- all you have to do is pick eight players to play on Friday to play.