Bermuda Triangle mystery
August 31, 1998
By Kurt Epps
- Bermuda's first brewpub
First the good news.
The PubScout found the first and only microbrewery (Bermuda Triangle
Brewing) in Bermuda, and the beers that come out of it are exceptional.
The bad news is that you can't get them here in the US, and even if you
go to Bermuda, you might have trouble getting some of them, unless you
know where to go.
Bermuda Triangle's boyish president, Paul Mason conducts the daily tours
which include unlimited free samples. Paul, a former CPA who jumped the
corporate ship to help his brother Phil launch Bermuda's first
microbrewery, is an energetic spokesman for not only his brews, but
quality craft beer in general. Clad in a damp T-shirt (it's hot in a real
brewery), holding a pint of his brew aloft (there are perks to this
business), he goes into a spirited presentation about his beer and how
it's made. His lively animation during the talk may have been a defense
against the swarms of beer-and-sweat-loving gnats which descended on the
brewery that day, but he left no doubt about the commitment he has to
And quality can be an expensive proposition. Start-up costs were pegged
at between one and two million dollars. Bermuda's logistics demand that
BTB import everything but the water, which is collected Bermuda
style -- from the roof. The tax on imports is considerable.
BTB produces five regular brews that include Hurricane Wheat (a
sentimental favorite with the brewery visitors this day whose Bermuda
visit was sandwiched between two real hurricanes named Bonnie and
Danielle), Spinnaker, Full Moon Pale Ale, Wilde Hogge Amber and
Paul's Hurricane Wheat was refreshingly crisp and tart with just a hint
of raspberry, as opposed to some brews that OD on the stuff. The
Spinnaker, a German-style Kolsch Bier, was clean and flavorful with a
splendid citrusy nose and floral finish. Spinnaker earned a prestigious
Silver medal at the 1996 World beer Championships.
The Full Moon Pale Ale was immensely satisfying and came close to being
a Sierra Nevada clone, albeit a bit smoother in mouthfeel. Head brewer
Jamie Schier smiles, shrugs and says, "Hey, I'm an American." With the
temperature in the 90's and the gnats doing their best impression of
living ear muffs, the PubScout saved the award-winning (1997 World beer
Championships) Hammerhead Stout for another day, though Paul indicated it
was a great favorite of the locals.
But the PubScout's favorite was Wilde Hogge, unavailable from the tap
this day, but sold in select pubs, supermarkets and convenience stores on
the island. This malty, medium-bodied altbier has a wonderfully
coppery/amber color and is delightfully complex in aroma and flavor.
I bought mine in a little convenience store at the King's Wharf near
where my ship was docked. Pretty good deal, too, ($1.60 US / bottle)
considering Bermuda's high prices for most things. The store, like the
brewery, offered a ten-pack of BTB's beers (two of each) for just $15.00
BTB's website (www.trianglebeer.com) posts a list of all Bermuda pubs
and restaurants that serve its beer, and while the list looks impressive,
I wondered aloud why beers of this quality are not generally available
everywhere on this tiny island.
That led to an interesting discussion between reviewer and brewer. With
Bermuda's traditional links to Great Britain, a beer lover might expect
homegrown brews to be available in most of the local liquor stores and
pubs on Front Street in Hamilton, Bermuda's capital. But they are not.
Two very powerful families, who import the likes of Heineken, Amstel and
Beck's, see BTB beers as competition rather than a chance for local
promotion. Hence, they do not allow the sale of BTB beers in their liquor
stores or in the many pubs who lease space in their buildings.
can still get a fine pint of McEwan's, Bass or Newcastle, but you won't
find a Bermuda beer to compare them to, unless you know where to go.
Ironically, the locals' beer of choice seems to be Heineken. Go figure.
Flanagan's Pub on Front Street in Hamilton is one such place. Flanagan's, being Irish, knows good beer, and BTB beer is on
In fact, BTB contract brews Flanagan's flagship beer called
Gallagher's Real Ale. This is an outstanding brew, ruby red in color and
big on flavor (kind of like its namesake, Tom Gallagher). It seems to be
a hybrid of BTB's Full Moon (also on tap) and Wilde Hogge. Whatever it
is, it's delicious.
Some initial doubters questioned the wisdom of the Mason Boys' selection
of the name Bermuda Triangle for their company, fearing the name and what
it connotes. But Paul says, "We're slamming, especially in summer. And
we're looking to expand our markets. The Bermuda triangle Omystery' isn't
all that powerful these days."
From this perch, the only mystery seems to be why the big distributors
haven't accepted these quality beers into the family fold of Bermuda
Bermuda Triangle Brewing
#2 S.A.L. Middle Road
®Kurt E. Epps 1998 All Rights Reserved