Some locals sniff that Red Stripe is for tourists, and when we were present at Scotchies green Heineken bottles inhabited the rustic bar in company with the red and white labels. But Red Stripe is indisputably the most iconic symbol of Jamaica aside from Usain Bolt smiling from a green and yellow T-shirt. Red Stripe beer appeared in the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, filmed around Ocho Rios.
Red Stripe is classified as a North American Adjunct Lager, in the same family as a Coors or a Bud or a Pabst. A moderate 4.7% ABV.
One beer reviewer writes that Red Stripe is the beer equivalent of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.” “Everybody knows it, but those with more discerning taste know there are better Marley songs.” But Jamaica’s national beer partners perfectly with jerk chicken and a hot beach. I like Red Stripe. Which is fortunate because Red Stripe has a virtual monopoly at the bars of most major resorts (where you can sometimes find Heineken behind the bar). Skip the Red Stripe Light. Unkind critics describe its taste as like classic Red Stripe mixed with water in a dilution of 5 to 1. I can’t disagree—thin and flavorless.
I stick with Red Stripe in Jamaica, but for those who seek alternatives there is Dragon (a stout made by Red Stripe), Heineken and Guinness. Both Heineken and Guinness are locally brewed in Jamaica.