Cerveza Tica goes Artesanal
Craft beer makes strides in Costa Rica
The draft accounts also offer seasonals, including a stout, Scottish ale or IPA. One of the most popular temporadas was a 4.5 percent-strength wheat ale made with cas—a green, sour guava that might be Costa Rica’s signature fruit. It gave refreshing acidity to a session-weight beer, and since the fruit is rarely seen outside the region the drink was almost totally unique. The word terroir is tricky, but that one had it.
Among places that serving CRCB ales, there are several around the country that might be of interest to travelers.
The Hostel Galileo, in one of San José’s safer areas near Sabana park, is a possible overnight stop between the airport and other destinations, or between those destinations and home. Beer lovers on a budget will appreciate its Rugged Pineapple Bar and prices: dorm beds start at $9, private rooms at $24.
Manuel Antonio National Park, with its lively monkeys and livelier beaches, is one of the country’s most popular spots. The road from Quepos town to to the park is strung with bars and restaurants, the pirate-themed Barba Roja being the only one with CRCB on draft. Farther down the road is the Agua Azul with Libertas and Segua in bottles, a sweeping sunset view, and some of the country’s best scratch-cooked pub fare. Behold the tower of patacones: plantains smashed, fried and providing shelter for shrimp, avocado and tomatoes, all drizzled with a lime vinaigrette.
On the Carribean Coast, the Punta Uva Lounge near Puerto Viejo offers laid-back beachfront atmosphere and ceviche. And on the Pacific Coast near Nosara’s pristine beach, and where plans for the brewery first hatched, both Casa Tucan hotel (rooms $45 to $115) and Marlin Bill’s restaurant have CRCB on draft, as does the remarkable Black Sheep Pub (see below).
Finally, back in the Central Valley, one of the country’s most acclaimed seafood restaurants is Escazú’s Product C, a champion of the fresh and sustainably caught. Besides selling a lot of beer and emphasizing pairings with its creative dishes, Product C co-sponsored the country’s first Festival de Cerveza Artesanal on April 21. Brewers both pro and amateur worked side-by-side to serve more than a dozen different styles to drinkers who paid $30 a pop for tickets. Proceeds went to the coffers of the fledgling Asociación de Cerveceros Artesanales, which aims to foster the culture of craft beer in Costa Rica.
Those who go pro will face many of the same struggles that CRCB has faced. Back when he and Gilman were fighting through red tape in 2010, Nappy said some words that might be taken to heart by the next wave:
“You just have to be thick-skinned and level-headed and go with it,” he said. “Here in Costa Rica, it’s always something, man.”
Joe Stange is co-author of the forthcoming Good Beer Guide Belgium, 7th edition (2013), with Tim Webb.