Brewery: Cervecería Nacional Dominicana, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
|When a beer isn't very good, it is best served cold to mask its rank flavor. See: the marketing strategy of these guys.|
Hispaniola is one of the few islands in the world that are divided between two or more countries. Ireland, Borneo, Tierra del Fuego, New Guinea, and Timor are the only other major examples, but there are a few more. Anyway, Hispaniola is divided almost evenly between two very, very different countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Dominicans speak Spanish (spicy!), while Haitians speak French Creole (sacre bleu?). Dominicans excel at baseball, while Haitians excel at… well, not soccer, which is their favorite sport, but has seen them in only one World Cup, almost 40 years ago. The Dominican, while still a developing country, has long been stable politically and economically and is a booming tourist destination, while visitors to Haiti are typically sequestered in a cruise-ship-owned enclave, never to see the squalor of the rest of the country caused by the idiocy of the Duvaliers. The Dominican is still largely forested, while there are approximately three trees left in Haiti.
|While Haiti's natural resources have been terribly mismanaged for years (cutting down all their trees being the most visible problem), the Dominican government has been espousing good environmental policy for a long time. Next step for the DR: make a better beer.|
And yet, despite its sad deficiencies relative to its next-door neighbor, Haiti makes the far superior beer. In addition to winning a medal at the World Beer Cop in 2000, it’s Crap National Lager, Prestige, wins the Best Beer on Hispaniola Award (presented by me) by a wide margin,because Presidente, from the Dominican Republic, tastes like complete and utter ass. There’s not really a more polite way of saying it.
|Sometimes I like to translate the non-English words on beer packaging for my dear readers. I'll let y'all figure this one out for yourself, though.|
In the past, when drinking pale lagers from tropical countries, I’ve remarked at how not bad they are (there have been exceptions, of course). Presidente is just bad. It has that skunky, corny flavor to it that can found in such fine concoctions as Natural Ice and Coors Light. The green bottle and its spot on the sunny shelf at the package store probably contributed to its skunkiness, so it might taste better in different circumstances, but the stuff I had was up to no good. While its name is surely intended to lend it an air of sophistication, this president is much closer to George W. Bush than Abraham Lincoln.
|Danilo Medina, the actual presidente of the Dominican Republic. I have no idea if he's any good or not.|
Despite its rank flavor, Presidente is available all over the New York Metro area, including in my hometown in Connecticut, because of the massive Dominican population there. I guess if you grow up drinking the stuff, you get nostalgic for it. Also, perhaps enough people with bad taste in beer have stopped off in Punta Cana while on a cruise and picked up a taste for it Regardless, it’s pretty easy to find in the Northeast. So be warned.