BALASHI, Aruba -- If visitors haven't been to Aruba in a few years, they might be surprised when ordering a Balashi.

For years, Balashi was the name given to water from the area where the island's water plant is located.

In 1996, the Hamburg, Germany-based Brewtech brewing company came to the island and set up shop near the water plant.

Brewtech spent a few years perfecting its beer before opening the brewery to the public in 1999.

The Balashi Brewery offers free 30-minute tours every half-hour between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

Tours of the brewery show how the beer is made.

Visitors are taken past the malt, barley and hops vats; the containers filtering the beer; the cylinders holding the final product, and the bottling and sanitation areas.

The minimum age for touring the brewery is 15 years. Younger children can wait in a playground.

When the tour is completed, visitors can stop at the Balashi Gardens & Restaurant for a light lunch or dinner, served from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and of course, sample the beer brewed on site.

"It's a big tourist thing," said Gerben Tilma, general manager of the plant. "Everyone wants to know what the best local products are. Now we can tell them."

When ordering a Balashi, visitors can get a regular or a light version of the product.

For more information, call (011) 297 854-805.

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