QCOSTARICA – It is official: there is a beer revolution happening in Costa Rica. Craft brewing has arrived in my country in a big way, and I’m excited to taste all the new flavors. There are so many options available, and in Costa Rica we’re celebrating the creativity of this phenomena and the sense of community that it is building.
The U.S. and the U.K. are largely responsible for this movement, as craft brewing has been popular in those countries for some time now. The U.S. and the U.K. are experiencing rapid brewery growth, and when Ticos travel abroad, they are experiencing the growing passion these brewmasters.
Ticos have been able to turn that inspiration into a local economic venture, and have been experimenting with this newfound hobby.
History of Costa Rica Beer: A Mass Market
Historically, the beer industry has been strong in Costa Rica, but it has been focused on larger, mass-produced bottling. A few breweries began to surface in Costa Rica in the 1860s and the 1880s. As more companies began to produce and bottle its own beers, a few main players emerged and some of those beer brands are still popular, and world known, even today.
As time went on, the biggest company, Florida Ice & Farm Co., acquired all the other beer brewers. This placed a severe limit on the types of beers that were available to the general public.
Florida Ice & Farm Co. was producing Lagers, and there was no easy way for Costa Ricans to access other types of beer. Florida Ice & Farm Co. remains a dominant beer force in Costa Rica, leading with its Imperial and Pilsen lagers.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, new restaurants and microbrew companies started to appear and brought the idea of craft beers to their establishments. Some of these businesses have since closed their doors, but their beers were so popular that they have maintained brewing them.
Even Florida Ice & Farm Co. recognized the growing trend of craft beers, and added a division to its company just for craft brewing. Many brewmasters have begun to operate from their homes as the craft brewing movement continues to grow. Who knows – any one of these brewers could be the next big thing in Costa Rica! Today, Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company is the biggest microbrewery, and makes some popular flavors, including Libertas and Segua.
Today, there are even craft beer festivals and pubs that host competitions for home brewers. I love to go taste all the great flavors that our creative locals have come up with! It’s so refreshing to have so many choices.
Many of the brew masters in Costa Rica aren’t in the game for competition; they just want everyone to be able to enjoy choices and flavor.
While this is a new movement in Costa Rica, the locals are motivated to educate themselves and continue producing. Those that have been successful so far have been sharing their knowledge with the community, and spreading the word about how important it is to have variety.
It can sometimes be difficult to find all of the ingredients locally, and equipment is very expensive; but in true Tico fashion, there was not a sense of defeat. Instead, a store was opened to help import ingredients and equipment, and to offer classes to help teach the ways of brewing.
Many of the movements leaders are even coming together to help shape and form the craft brewing industry in Costa Rica, starting with the creation of an association to oversee operations of craft brewing. While this new economic venture still needs to find some mainstream support, Ticos are working hard to free the country from their days of choosing lagers because that was all that was available.
Costa Rica Craft Beer Tours
If you are a beer lover, beer enthusiast, or just beer-curious, you should consider taking a beer tasting tour while you are in Costa Rica. These tours are fun, informative, and of course, tasty!
You can choose just one microbrewery to tour, or in places like San Jose, you can take a guided tour through several microbreweries.
The San Jose pub crawls last for a few hours and are limited to small groups around 10 people or 12 people. During the tour, you’ll visit several spots and taste about 10 samples of beer, including IPAs and stouts. As a bonus, you’re also deep into the local culture, and you get to experience Ticos hanging out at their favorite spots. You’re also walking through the neighborhood and gaining a genuine sense of what life is like in San Jose.
Craft beers are a little more expensive than the commercial beers, but trust me, it is worth it! My favorite places to go even let you create your own beers and buy beer kits! I’ve haven’t quite mastered brewing my own beers at home, so I’m going to stick to drinking beer that others have made for now. I hope to hop into you along a tour one day!
Via: Visitcostarica.com Javi the Frog’s Travel Blog