My daughter (Angie) and I recently went on a trip to Costa Rica to experience this beautiful Central American country, and break away from the intense cold and snow of Minnesota… at least for a week. Well, what kind of a Beer Guy would I be if we didn’t try to sample some of the brew available in this small country? So, I informed Angie that we would have to try some beers, while she was really upset about that idea (yeah, right), she agreed to help taste test some of them. So, the following are the beers we were able to sample in our week of travel. I must say up front that none of them rivaled the coffee… that was quite tasty but then you would expect that there now wouldn’t you? I also have to say that because of the tour we were on etc we were unable to find any truly ‘craft’ beers and just had to try what we could. OK, so beer… I mean here goes.
Imperial Pale Lager. We saw signs for it everywhere. I thought that this beer was either going to be really good or really bad. Well, it wasn’t anything to brag about but it was better than some of the other options. It poured a golden yellow and was light bodied and fairly carbonated. Picked up on some light malt and adjunct grains with a faint hop taste. Pretty smooth and wasn’t too bad in the heat on the beach or by the pool. Angie and I along with our fellow tour group vacationers drank our share of this brew (due to the lack of better options). This beer is very popular in Costa Rica and is pretty much appears to be the Budweiser of CR.
Pilzen, another Pale Lager from the same Brewer. We saw a lot of signage for this beer as well and I would say it appeared to be about the second most popular, judging from the signage and availability. This beer too was pretty blah, a touch of sweetness to it and a bit of malt and had a slight bitter finish to it. If Imperial was the Bud, this was the Miller of Costa Rica.
Imperial Silver, Angie picked this one as it also had a cool label and was made out to be a cut about the regular Imperial. It poured a very pale yellow and again, you could pick up on the adjunct grains with the nose and taste. This beer was very much like it’s mainstay but perhaps just a tick smoother, another blah offering from this brewer. This would be the Coors Light of Costa Rica.
Bavaria Dark, OK as we stopped for a late lunch at the Tree House Restaurant in Monte Verde, I noticed they had what looked like a couple of interesting beers behind the bar so we had to try one! I saw a dark beer and thought perhaps there was hope! Well… not so much, while it is dark in color with a touch of ruby hue to it, I found it to be another disappointment. It is very thin and fairly watery. Not much mouthfeel although it does have some carbonation and a touch of sweetness. It certainly isn’t the hearty brew I was hoping for.
Bavaria Light, Angie chose this one and as you can imagine, it was pretty thin. While it poured a big, fluffy white head, it turned out to be pretty much just another tasteless pale lager. Florida Bebidas is the brewer of all of the beers we tried so far, man, for the sake of the beer drinkers in Costa Rica, I hope they have some real craft beer somewhere!
Brahva, so we go to the local grocery store to pick up a few things (that was fun in itself) and I decided to buy a six-pack of Brahva in cans. It’s 5% ABV and is brewed by AmBev of Guatemala (maybe we have a chance here!). Guess what? Not! LOL it tastes pretty much just like the other beers we tried. I offered one up to one of our fellow vacationers (who is a beer lover from Portland, OR) and he pretty much concurred. Pale yellow in color and once again lots of adjunct grain smell and taste. Thin mouthfeel and watery… surprise! It was OK on a sunny day by the pool but then so is Gatorade.
Tona, last chance to try a redeeming beer as we had lunch at the airport before heading home. I ordered up a Tona (I don’t know how to put the squiggly line above the N lol). This beer is brewed in Nicaragua and is another pale lager. OK, this is it, will I finally have a beer to brag about when I get home… un, no. Another watery, blah, not much to it beer. Man, these people have no idea what real beer is supposed to taste like! But then again, they have the tropics and something on the watery side probably goes good in the heat.
When it was all said and done, Angie and I along with Chris, Steve, Jason and some others (fellow vacationers) agreed that Imperial was probably the best of the worst. But when you are on vacation in Costa Rica while it’s below zero and snowing back home… it wasn’t half bad!