For over 65 years
Red Stripe has embodied
the spirit, rhythm and pulse
of Jamaica and its people.
Easily the most exported Jamaican beer, and also the most popular there (read: dirt cheap and dirt common) from what I've heard. It has been said that Red Stripe is the Budweiser of Jamaica, but that doesn't do it justice, as Red Stripe tastes orders of magnitude better than any of the popular-but-foul American beers. It's a light and sweet lager that comes in a squat brown 12 oz. bottle, printed with a red stripe and vaguely reminiscent of a hand grenade. Red Stripe for export is 5% alcohol, and no 3.2% "grocery store" version is produced. In the UK and elsewhere in Europe the bottles are shaped like regular beer bottles, presumably to make them fit in standard holders and dispensers.
Red Stripe is produced by Desnoes & Geddes Ltd., which was formed in 1918 by Eugene Desnoes and Thomas Hargreaves Geddes. D&G (as it is printed on the packaging) opened its Surrey Brewery in Kingston in 1927, having both produced soft drinks and distributed imported liquors before that. Today's light lager was first brewed in 1934, created by Paul Geddes (Eugene's son) and Bill Martindale.
The new lager was cheap, good, and popular, and quickly started outselling the English imports. Since Jamaica was at the time a colony of England, there was an excise tax placed on local beers to encourage people to buy the imports. Public outcry ensued, and the tax was withdrawn. During World War II, another tax was placed on local beer to help pay for Britain's war efforts. Fortunately, WWII also brought large groups of American and Canadian troops through Jamaica, and Red Stripe sold enough to them to stay in business until the end of the war.
D&G was passed to the Eugene and Thomas' sons, Peter Desnoes and Paul Geddes. They phased out the Surrey Brewery and constructed a modern new plant in Hunt's Bay. The company also had a public offering in 1970, though the controlling interests stayed with the Desnoes and Geddes families.
In 1993, the majority of the company was acquired by Guinness Brewing Worldwide, who sold the soft drinks division to Pepsi. D&G's exclusive focus is now beer, and they make all of the Heineken, Dragon Stout, Guinness, and Malta beer for Jamaica.
As a fun fact, "red stripe" is also Jamaican slang for a police officer, from the red stripes running the length of their pants.
Much of this information is from http://www.redstripebeer.com/aboutus/index.html , and other places on the internet. The quote at the top is copied from the back of the Red Stripe bottle sitting in front of me, and is copyright Desnoes and Geddes Ltd.