By Janelle Chanona
Every visitor to Belize shares the common experience of enjoying a product of Bowen and Bowen Limited. After all, it bottles everything from water and Coca Cola products to energy drinks and fruit juices and it is the only national bottler of local beer and Guinness Stout. When Prince Harry of Wales arrives in Belize on Friday, he’ll get the royal treatment from the beer company. At the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Block Party, company executives will introduce Prince Harry to all their products and allow him to sample and savour their prized Belikin beer.
The name Belikin is rooted in Mayan language, loosely translated to mean “road to the east” and is a term some people believe is the origin of the name Belize. The Maya connection continues on the company’s label which features a Pre-Columbian drawing of the archaeological site Altun Ha. Belizean businessman Sir Barry Bowen established the Belize Brewing Company, a subsidiary of Bowen and Bowen Limited, in 1969 and started producing beer in 1971. The recipe is the same as it was on day one: a unique blend of imported American hops, Canadian malted barley, German yeast, Belizean sugar and purified water from the Maya Mountains. The only difference is that now that recipe is executed by a computer program in a state of the art facility and entire process is supervised by Belize’s first Belizean brewmaster—Nolan Michael. The company’s attention to detail also ensures that every batch has exactly the right color and taste. The resulting lagers have been enjoyed by tens of thousands of people from around the world…but this week, Belikin will get royal approval. “It is a privilege when a member of the royal family visits, and we are honoured to participate in Prince Harry’s visit by having ice-cold Belikin beer at each of his stops,” says Michael Bowen, CEO of Bowen and Bowen Ltd.
Bowen is also elated that Belikin beer, not champagne, will be the bottle of choice on Saturday morning when Prince Harry christens the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Canoe. The canoe will be manned by three teenaged winners of a special competition organized by the British High Commission in Belize. Those teens are members of a junior team scheduled to participate in the annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge on the weekend of March 9th. The more than one hundred and seventy mile race starts off beneath the Hawkesworth Bridge connecting the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Over the next three days, teams will battle the clock and each other to reach the finish line in Belize City first. Now in its fifteenth year, organizers say the gruelling event is meant to “highlight the ecology, history and tourism potential of the Belize Old River as one of the great natural resources of Belize.”
The race will end on Monday, March 12th, a national holiday in memory of one of Belize’s benefactors, British sailor Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, also known as Baron Bliss. And at all the holiday celebrations, Belize Brewing Company products, especially ice cold Belikins, are sure to be in high demand.