Kalik vs. Sands – Which Bahamian Brew is Better?

Bahamians know their beer. Kalik and SANDS are the beers of the Bahamas. Whether you are cruising around the islands in a boat or sitting on a white sand beach, you’re going to crave an ice cold beverage to cool you down. Which of these beers are you going to choose?

Last week I was in the Bahamas and took an unofficial beer poll from the locals and did a little taste testing myself. Here’s what I found.


Kalik BeerKalik is the best selling beer in the Bahamas. It got it’s name, “Kalik” by the sound made by cowbells, a key instrument used by the bands in the Bahamas annual Junkanoo Festival. Interesting. The staff at Commonwealth Brewery Limited views brewing Kalik as a matter of national pride. They also produce Heineken, Guinness and Vitamalt. Currently there are three variations of Kalik beer: regular Kalik with 5% alcohol, Kalik Light (4%), and extra-strength Kalik Gold (7%).

Sounds like a heavy hitter in this Bahamian Beer challenge doesn’t it? Let’s check out the new comer, the underdog…SANDS.


SANDS beer launched on December 15th, 2007, and was brewed to quench the Bahamian thirst, creating a specific definitive flair that the owner thought was missing in the beer market. The combined knowledge of both the German brewing experts, local Bahamian Brewery team and owners has helped this newly launched beer become the hit of the islands.  SANDS was due to be distributed in Grand Bahama only, but by early January 2008 – it was a national brand!

Which is Better?

When I polled the locals on which beer they preferred the answers where complicated. But once narrowed down I would  say 6 out of 10 Bahamians said they preferred SANDS. Remember this was an unofficial poll and I’m guessing if I did it again the answers would be different. Why were the answers complicated?

The two beers are completely different. In my opinion, Kalik has more flavor and is a heavier beer. SANDS on the other hand is smoother, less flavor and is a lighter less filling beer. That’s why it’s hard to pick a winner. Each beer is perfect for different situations and different beer drinkers. I was going back and forth the whole time with SANDS and Kalik and had a hard time choosing which was better. But if you were going to twist my arm and make me choose, I would have to say SANDS. That’s only because I’m a light beer drinker though.

Have you tried both of these beers? If so please let us know what you think. Are you a Bahamian? Please let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section below.

Kalik or SANDS, either way you can’t really go wrong. I’ll say it again, Bahamians know their beer.


About the Author:

Just a salty pirate looking to explore and document the wonders of the Caribbean. Professional blogger, rum judge, consultant, marketer, and consumer of blue water beauty.


  1. Camels & Chocolate October 14, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Will you still be my friend if I admit I didn’t actually try EITHER of them while there…? *bows head in shame*

  2. RumShopRyan October 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Kristen Kristen…shame on you. I guess that’s just another excuse to go back!
    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Angie October 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    My answer would be different if you asked me tomorrow – I like them both! Go Bahamas!

  4. just jon October 19, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Gotta say I prefer Sands.. But, I’ll take either on the beach!

  5. mm
    RumShopRyan October 19, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I’m with you Jon. I’m a Sands man. Thanks for the comment!

  6. John Bahamas November 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Of the two, I prefer Sands. But the new beer by Bahamian Brewery, High Rock is a stong contender in my beer quest. FYI I am a Bahamian.

  7. mm
    RumShopRyan November 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the comment John. I hadn’t heard about High Rock. I’m heading to Nassau in January and will have to give it a try. Thanks for letting us know about it. Cheers my Bahamian friend!

  8. Bonefish Charles December 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I tried Sands for a week the last time I was fishing the Marls back to back with Kalik…and I’m still a traditional Kalik drinker! But have to admit, after 20 or so barley pops of any kind, Sands is a little refreshing since it is lighter. Start with Kalik on the flats until mid afternoon and then swithch! And when the sun goes down, switch to your favorite umbrella drink, rummy!….just don’t fall off the dock like some of my fellow fishermen did.

  9. mm
    RumShopRyan December 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks for the comment Charles. I like the idea of starting off with the Kalik and then switching it up. Cheers!

  10. Brian C. Jankow January 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Kalik is my favorite! I have has Sands when they run out of Kalik, and I don’t like it!!!

  11. mm
    RumShopRyan January 22, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Thanks for the comment Brain. I’m going to get a chance to do some more taste testing next week. The battle continues!

  12. JohnLiv February 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    We tried both plus another local beer, Eclipse, during our recent stay on Grand Bahama. Kalik is heavier with a slight funky smell and after taste. Sands is much lighter and crisp like an American Light Lager. We prefer Sands but Eclipse is similar and much cheaper if you are picking up a few at the market. I’m curious of what others think of Eclipse.

  13. chico March 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    i love sands beer that all i drink, i dont like kalik

  14. robert pritchard March 30, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I luv Sands products but then again people think I’m very bias…they are correct,lol

  15. Steve March 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Speaking from a Daily-Life-in-Nassau perspective: I tend to prefer Sands. I think it’s *usually* the better beer, with more flavour. However, Sands tends to be less reliable than Kalik, which is more consistent in delivering the same product, day after day, month after month. On most days, Sands is better, but you do run the risk of getting a bad batch.

  16. mm
    RumShopRyan March 30, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I’m a SANDS guy too Robert. Just wish they would export to Florida. Why so bias? Do you work for them?

  17. mm
    RumShopRyan March 30, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Good tip Steve. I found it a little upsetting that SANDS is actually hard to find in downtown Nassau. I was told Kalik had rights to that area or something.

  18. Nippernaked May 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Kalik! I really like Heineken!

  19. Dave Larsen June 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Kalik, for sure,not the light but the other two,sands has adifferent flavor,many time Kalik at Nippers,Tipsy Seagull–oh!!!

  20. Nads June 28, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Both great products! Which is better depends on taste buds. Personally I prefer Kalik but High Rock is also an excellent beer from the Sands company.

  21. mm
    RumShopRyan June 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Thanks for the comment Nads. I’ll have to give High Rock a try next time I’m in the Bahamas. Cheers!

  22. cmb22 July 8, 2011 at 8:51 am

    I lived on Grand Bahama Island for two months. I choose SANDS 100%. But most of the locals were still drinking Kalik. I got the “are you sureeee you don’t want Kalik” comment a lot!

    P.S. if you’re ever on Grand Bahama Island you can take a tour of the SANDS brewery…worth it.

  23. mm
    RumShopRyan July 8, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Thanks CMB22, I’ll definitely have to take that SANDS tour. Cheers!

  24. tunaman September 3, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Sands is really just for the lightweights that go for well, light beer. Kalik Gold is far better in my opinion and brewed in a much safer environment. Sands is know for brewing bad batches and making people sick. If you have spent any time in the Bahamas over the past 3 or 4 years drinking beer, you would probably know this or run into someone that has had a bad experience with Sands.

  25. Fritz September 4, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Drank alot of Sands and never got a bad batch. I buy a case as soon as I arrive. Much prefer Sands over Kalik, no headache. Smooth taste. Normally a Guinness drinker but Sands is a great other beer. I still need to try Strong Back though.

  26. mm
    RumShopRyan September 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Tunaman, I’ve spent a several weeks in the Bahamas the last few years and haven’t had anyone say they’ve gotten sick from SANDS. I’m a big fan of both SANDS, Kalik and Kalik Gold. Drink the gold quite a bit here in Florida. When I did my casual poll of the locals, SANDS and Kalik were pretty close to the same popularity.

  27. Carib Girl September 8, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I am Bahamian who is a way from home. I must admit, when I saw the reviews of our national beer I got too excited. To me, I actually can’t pick which one. I would prefer SANDS when I am eating a nice bowl of scorch conch as SANDS doesn’t fill me up as quickly. But for a night chilling with the family, I would prefer Kalik, because it gets the party started quicker lol!! Thanks for your review.

  28. mm
    RumShopRyan September 8, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the comment Carib Girl! Always good to hear the opinion of a Bahamian on this matter. Cheers!

  29. Russ September 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Kalik Gold is my favorite beer in the world

  30. mm
    RumShopRyan September 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I’m a big fan myself Russ, especially now that I can buy it in the store! Cheers!

  31. Michael from The Bahamas November 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Drinking sands is drinking a light beer for anyone who drinks beer. Kalik still sells a whole lot more than Sands, where as High Rock is not a bad beer at all. The new Kalik Lime is really taking over the market share quickly thought

  32. Michael from The Bahamas November 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Drinking sands is drinking a light beer for anyone who drinks beer. Kalik still sells a whole lot more than Sands, where as High Rock is not a bad beer at all. The new Kalik Lime is really taking over the market share quickly though

  33. Chris January 8, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I just got back from the Bahamas a few days ago, and let me just say, Sands tasted like the Bahamian version of Natty Light. I had a hard time finishing it, and honestly, when I got it, I thought the locals had taken a cheap beer and slapped a self made label on it. Im going to have to go with Kalik.

  34. mm
    RumShopRyan January 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    Natty LIght? Ouch! Thanks for the comment Chris.

  35. jbbugin January 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    OK, admittedly I come from Northern California where there are almost as many brewpubs as there are Starbucks. I’m very much looking forward to sampling the best that the Bahama’s has to offer since this April will be my first visit there since 1981 and back then I found the rum to be more to my taste. Looking forward to casting my vote once I can sample them all.

  36. mm
    RumShopRyan January 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Cheers to the Bahamian beer challenge. Looking forward to hearing what you think Jay.

  37. Ray Lindsay June 17, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    very pleased you fond the time to visit our small islands in the Bahamas.i am a grand bahamian and this has been the hot topic of conversations within my peer group.i find that most older or seasoned bahamians still stick to the traditional beer whick is kalik.me personally being a consumer of many beers find that the sands brand has a smoother taste and is a remarkably refreshing beer,especially ice cold,nothing beats it..so in my opinion and amongst my friends we select sands as our beer of choice.

    p.s if you are ever back in the Bahamas please give high rock beer a go,it is delightful as well..

  38. Peter H. Coffin November 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I’m only an occasional visitor, but of the two, I much prefer Kalik.

  39. Scot March 8, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    Just bought a six pack of Kalik when I got to Florida, it was gone shortly after. Definitely my favorite..I like heavier beers. Yep, from the north… my usual is an IPA, but Kalik will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll be bringing some to the KC tailgate Ryan. See you there!

  40. mm
    RumShopRyan March 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks for the comment Scot! You got me thirsty for some Bahamian beer now. I might have to bring some to the KC tailgate as well! We will raise our Kaliks high!

  41. Bob Van de Vrande March 15, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I enjoyed both while visiting Exuma but probably prefer Sands. It reminded me of TsingTao, the Chinese beer that is one of my favourites, along with Keo, from Cyprus, that no longer seems to be available in Canada. Like others, any beer is enjoyable in the Bahamas and it is great that such excellent quality local beer is actually available in two choices.

  42. mm
    RumShopRyan March 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I’m a SANDS man too Bob. Cheers!

  43. Carl March 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Just back from the Bahamas and discovered Sands on my last day there. Wish it had been on the first. Preferred its lighter flavor over the Kalik.

  44. Chris P April 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    They are both good, but I like kalik way more. Especially kalik gold which you can’t get on all the islands. Kalik beats any beer from anywhere in my opinion. I’ve tried to find a beer that comes close available in the US but I just can’t. Also I have seen some people mentioning high rock, as I recall it was a lot like Heineken. I only spent two nights in nassau during my two trips so those where the only times I got to try the other beers because I was in san salvador and they pretty much only have kalik, but I never felt like I was missing out as long as I had kalik to drink. even that last sip in the bottle is good, where most other beers I just leave it and go on to the next.

  45. Chris P April 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    also don’t go by any beer reviews when it comes to Bahamian beer (or really anything but dark beer for that matter) beer snobs tend to shy away from beers like kalik I find that many pilsners, lagers, and malts are rated very low despite their popularity and drinkablity. try them for yourself! don’t be turned off by bad reviews, unless you only like dark beers with overwhelming amount of bitter flavors. I’ve also noticed that beers not widely available in America tend to do poorly on those kinds of sites.

  46. mm
    RumShopRyan April 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for the comment Chris! Even though when I’m in the Bahamas I prefer to drink SANDS, I do drink Kalik a lot more because I can get it, and Kalik Gold here in south Florida. Love most of the Caribbean beers. Cheers!

  47. scot April 3, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    When I was in Tampa, kalik gold was in cases at total wine. Literally I saw a few stacks of cases. Were kinda low on regular

  48. Kaysee April 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve had them both and to me, Kalik is the winner hands down. Sands is too similar to every Miller Lite / Bud Lite clone out there. But some people are actually looking for that (i kno, it boggles my mind too)… This year heading to Aruba instead of Nassau –for a bit of change. Heard they’ve got even better beers there! We shall see….

  49. mm
    RumShopRyan April 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Enjoy Aruba and thanks for the comment Kaysee!

  50. Mike April 30, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Stopped in Nassau on a cruise this past Sunday and went into Atlantis casino to play some blackjack. Waitress comes around and we ask her to bring us a local beer since we didn’t know what to order. She brought us a Kalik in a can. It was a little bitter, but not bad. Couldn’t see drinking a lot of them. We went to play some slots and another waitress said she’d check to see if they had any more Kalik. She brought out a couple of Sands Light. Jackpot! I loved the Sands Light! We left and went to Senor Frogs. I think I downed another 3 or 4 there. Great beer! Light on the stomach, good on flavor and great with a lime! We got back on the ship and wanted more Sands Light. They didn’t have them. That was a bummer. It would be great if Royal Caribbean would sell it on board. They would have made a ton of money off me if they did!

  51. mm
    RumShopRyan April 30, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I’m with you Mike, when I’m in the Bahamas I’m definitely a SANDS man. Cheers!

  52. Capt ArtmSchmidt May 29, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Definitely Kalik, long time fan, Sands is good beer, but Kalik is my choice for favorite

  53. Ben July 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    We’re headed to the Bahamas in September an being an unbiased beer drinker I will definitely be trying them all! We’ll be in Freeport and Nassau. Any recommendations of little spots near the cruise port for food and beer? I’ve heard mixed reviews about Junkanoo beach.

  54. mm
    RumShopRyan July 31, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Have fun Ben! Haven’t been to Freeport, but in Nassau there’s a a lot right by the port. Senor Frogs, Conch Fritters, Fish Fry a little down the road and a bunch of places one block from the port on Bay Street. Cheers!

  55. Ray Lindsay July 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

    @ Ben: when you get to Freeport you have to try out Pisces restaurant in Port Lucuya.they have some of the best seafood pizza’s and other delights on the island ,plus their equipped with a bar so you can try out the local beers.if you happen to be there on a wednesday then head to smiths point for dancing and good food mate.cracked conch,fritters,peas and rice,bake mac etc etc like Ryan said .we also have a Senor frogs here as well at the harbor.a lil pricey there but it is what it is.

  56. thekahuna December 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Was recently in freeport and stopped at RUM RUNNERS and tried A couple of different Sands Beers and was knocked out ! Great beer ,Sands reminded me of Heiniken and loved it ! Hopping to find some Sands in NY !

  57. Tim January 11, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Just got back from Nassau; rented and car and toured the island for the first time. For better or worse it happened to be the first celebration of a new national holiday called “majority rules” – so I didn’t get to tour any breweries… however I did get to try both Sands and Kalik. While I enjoyed both, Sands was much crisper, cleaner with excellent taste. Kalik is unique though, and thoroughly enjoyable. It may be that freshness gave an unfair advantage since I got the Sands at Stuart Cove which is just down the street from Sands, while Kalik I got as a single bottle from a duty free shop in Nassau.

  58. Mike February 25, 2014 at 9:51 am

    We just got back from Nassau. I tried, and liked both Kalik and SANDS…I bought a case of SANDS for the room/beach and usually ordered Kalik Gold to have with meals. We also tired Bush Crack, which seemed like a nice mid-flavor beer right between the two.

  59. Limbo Man May 8, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Kalik! Sands could compete with Coors and maybe then come out on top.

  60. Larry July 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Ben, went to Nassau and Freeport in December 2013 and tried both beers for the first time. Here’s the kicker. My wife (who isn’t a beer drinker) tried a sip of each and when she tried the Sands I couldn’t get the bottle away from her. Winner Winner Sands with Dinner. Got to try to find it at a Florida liquor store. Will settle for Kalik though if I can’t find Sands. Enjoy!

  61. Jeff July 30, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve been to the Bahamas several times I’ve the last few years and have tried both. Sands hand down is my favorite. We usually are on Grand Bahama Island I have no clue why I’ve not gone through the tour. Have gone by the brewery dozens of times and didn’t think about it. I could kick myself. I guess I’ll have to go back just to go through the brewery and eat at Sire’s!!!

  62. Marco January 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I have tried both, I prefer Sands. It is the most refreshing beer with the right tast. It is perfect for its climate. If any one knows where I can purchase Sands beer in Canada please let me know.

  63. Nan February 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I’ll be in Nassau in 2 weeks! Looking forward to trying both!

  64. Mike February 15, 2015 at 8:21 am

    High Rock is the best beer made in the Bahamas. It is made by the only true Bahamian beer company. Kalik is made by Heineken and is owned by the Dutch. Bahamian Brewery is owned locally by the Sands family and it also makes Sands, Sands Light, Bush Crack, and Strong Back. There are preservatives in the Kalik beer that give me a headache, especially the Kalik Gold which gives me a migraine. Heard that Sands is available in Florida at Total Wine stores, but not 100% sure.

  65. Gil September 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    I had both sands and kalik while in Nassau I thought both were very clean full bodied beers. Perfect for the hot humid weather In fact I would buy both if they were available in my neck of the woods. My carribean beer used to be red stripe until they sold out and brewed it in Pennsylvania of all places. I will probably have to look for this in Maryland or in jersey/New York where there are sizable Bahamian populations.

  66. Gil September 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I also wish they would sell more of these beers instead of the usual corona and other crap

  67. Shar February 16, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Sands is cheaper 🙂

  68. Jay April 28, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I don’t usually drink such light beers but definitly prefer Kalik Gold.

  69. Deb May 16, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Anytime we visited GB we went straight for Kalik Gold! We haven’t been in 11 years though BUT we recently found Kalik Silver in Houston, TX so now we can at least “feel” like we are back on the island. SANDS launched after our last visit – maybe it’s in a liquor store here too and we can give it a try. 🙂

  70. Marcie June 15, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    I just got back from an Out Islands tour and I loved the Sands Pink Radler. I’m not a huge beer drinker but the Radler had a great flavor to it and it went down easy. We went to a beer store/patio across the street from the North Eleuthera Airport and had a couple cold ones while waiting for our flight. They didn’t have Kalik there, just Sands.

  71. Craig Brown October 30, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Been going to the Bahamas for almost 30yrs, Freeport and Nassau,love Kalik but last two yrs,been drinking more sands,the twisted lime restaurant in Nassau has sands on tap,loved it. so right now my choice is sands,

  72. Dennis Michael November 25, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Up front: I am slightly biased since the beautiful sales rep from Sands took me to my condo on Paradise Island when my son’s wedding turned into an almost nightmare because of Jetblue refusing to get me on my booked flight in Ft. Laud. Just about everyone going on Bahamasair, my only way out, found out my plight Thank you , lord , for Bahamasair and their manager on the ground there..a wonderful woman..who got me on the last flight out!! On the plane, the Sands rep listened to my tale and the fact I was going to cab it as it was getting past 10Pm ETA.. At the airport , a friend met her and the two went out of their way to take me to Paradise Is. WE , meaning all in the wedding party, drank Sands all that week!! OK, gratitude aside, I have been going to the bahamas since 1983 to my condo and always had Kalik, switching to light for the past 15 odd years. I find Sands to be more in taste for the girls and light beer drinkers. My skimpy, nosey poll, BTW, of native bahamians say they like Sands better as well. But, oh, how nice to judge on the lovely beaches and turquoise waters.

  73. Jamie November 29, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I enjoyed both SANDS & Kalik. Just to contribute to SANDS, add vodka to your bottle after the first couple sips…

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