At Long Last: A Refreshing SOLUTION to the Sargassum Problem in Belize


The mere mention of it instills dread in vacation travelers not just to Belize but up and down the Yucatan Peninsula and throughout the Caribbean.

Downtown San Pedro in Spring, 2018

While beneficial in modest quantities (sargassum serves as a floating nursery for much marine life),  in large quantities, well…it becomes problematic.  It’s hard to put a positive spin on hundreds of tons of decomposing seaweed clogging shorelines and washing up on beaches. 

Starting in 2014, the Caribbean began experiencing record blooms of sargassum.   Masses so large they are now tracked by global satellite – so burdensome, that the Mexican Navy has been called in to tackle the problem in the Yucatan.

And every year since, I’ve received countless well-meaning emails suggesting solutions:   “Why don’t people use it as fertilizer?”  “Why doesn’t someone make building materials out of it?”   “Why don’t we use it as fuel?” “Have you tried eating it?”

Sigh…Why don’t we turn it into gold or shoot it into space? 

Leave it to the flagship company of Belize to come up with a refreshing solution to this seasonal plague.  Belize…we can heave a national sigh of relief!!!

Released just in time for Easter, Belikin Beer is proud to introduce Sargassum Stout.  Beach fresh, aromatic, heady…delicious! 

“We’re always trying to incorporate local flavors into our seasonal bottlings,” says Nolan Michael, Belikin Brewmaster.  “Our Sorrel Sout has become a Christmas holiday favorite. Sargassum was an obvious choice for The Easter, when persistent Easterly winds bless us with thousands of tons of decomposing matter.”  

“The sea giveth and we bottleth”, Nolan chuckled, ”or so we here at Belikin like to say.” 

Belikin’s standard Stout blend is used as the initial base, then it’s masterfully blended with a proprietary Sargassum extract, adding a lingering, sulphuric note. 

I caught up with Gary Grief on the beach earlier this week. 

“For years we struggled with solutions,” said Gary, the former Deputy Mayor and former member of the San Pedro Sargassum Task Force.  “We were not thinking big picture.  Our focus was simply on quantity… containment and removal.  With the introduction of Sargassum Stout, now the focus is on both quantity and QUALITY.  Cheers Belikin!”

In a joint initiative between the Belize Tourism Board, the Belize Hotel Association, the Belize Department of the Environment, and Hattieville Correctional Facility, locals in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Hopkins, and Placencia are being invited to sign up for training in the sorting and grading of the endless truckloads of sargassum.  Only the choicest, most flavorful sargassum ends up making the cut.

“I used to look at the sargassum and just see mountains of decomposing sludge,” says Hilberto “Sugarfoot” Martinez, a laborer in San Pedro, “I now see opportunity.  I’m proud to stand for 10 hours a day in fetid water, knowing that I’m the very first step in making a drink that makes Belize proud. Go deh strong!”

When asked for his thoughts about Belikin’s historic announcement, our current San Pedro Mayor, Wally Nunez said:  “A $150,000 donated backhoe…

…and tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars of discretionary budgeting might momentarily give you the tools to simply remove sargassum, but it does not teach you to embrace and enjoy sargassum – to find a long-lasting solution,” says Mayor Wally Nuñez.  “For that, we need training and education.  We owe a big thank you to Belikin”.

The new Sargasso Stout will be available today in San Pedro town and the villages of Caye Caulker, Placencia, and Hopkins – but look for it to spread all over the country by Easter.   I have a feeling that this won’t be just a seasonal offering but will be available nationwide in unlimited quantities.

Please Note, Sargassum Stout is 13.5% alcohol by volume and may contain up to 2% micro-plastics. Please drink responsibly.

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