Episode 39 — Costa Rica’s Craft Brewers — Good Beer Hunting

// INTERVIEWS WITH

  • Mick Guttierez of Perro Vida Cerveza Artesenal

  • Ignacio Castro Cortiñas of Treintaycinco Fabrica de Cervezas

- Chef Eric Saenz of El Gaff Gastropub

- Alonso Brenes of Domingo 7 Cerveza Artesanal

  • Gustavo Arroyo of El Buho Cervecería Artesanal

  • Manuel Donarte of Café del Barista

// OVERVIEW

We were in Costa Rica with Tristan Coulter of Gaslight Coffee Roasters in

Chicago, and Andres Araya of 5 Rabbit Brewery. We were there to see about

some coffee. Tristan and Andres are making Yodo con Leche again, their

imperial porter blended with cold brew and con leche, and this year they

wanted to go to the source. I was fresh off of hosting my Uppers & Downers

coffee beer festival, so this little tagalong seemed perfectly timed. We

climbed high into the mountains, as high as 1,900 meters at one point,

pulled fresh cherries off the coffee trees, and tasted through a myriad of

impressive coffees in search of the beans for Yodo. 

Along the way, we met home brewers, nano-brewers, and macro brewers around

the city of San Jose, and some far out in the countryside who are working

to get Costa Rica’s craft brewing scene off the ground. It’s very much in

its infancy with only a couple of legitimate brewers producing any

meaningful amount of volume. It’s a lot like the US 30 or 40 years ago as

these men and women struggle to produce a quality, consistent beer, and

then sell that beer into a monopolized distribution and retail system to a

customer that doesn’t know what to think of it. But there’s another

important factor in Costa Rican craft beer that the US didn’t have in the

70s, namely, the US itself. Costa Rican’s are heavily influenced by what’s

happening in the US right now. They see the styles we’re producing, the

recipes, the beer flavors, and they’re working to get their hands on those

things every chance they get. And that means that Cost Rican craft beer is

in the earliest stages of Ken Grossman’s Pale Ale, combined with the 3rd

wave of brewing ambitions. It’s a bizarre confluence of factors. 

Most of the beers I had in Costa Rica that week were far off style, begging

for fresh ingredients, and simply not fairing well in a hot climate with

almost zero refrigerated infrastructure in distribution or even retail. But

whatever they lack in ingredients, and infrastructure, these men and women

make up for in ambition.

https://www.goodbeerhunting.com/gbh-podcast/2015/3/28/episode-39-costa-ricas-craft-brewers