Beers of Colombia

Club Colombia

‘Club’ is the thinking man’s beer in Colombia, and is usually the more expensive of the two or three beers most bars have available, but is worth the extra 30p or so. It’s as good as Beer Lao or Filipino San Mig – two benchmarks for 8/10 beers I keep in mind. It is a fairly full bodied and smooth, rounded beer with malt, yeast and hops coming through. Club Colombia beer in a small way makes Colombia a better place to visit, because it means that in 9 out of 10 establishments you know there will be a decent beer available.

8/10

Pilsen

Pilsen is the beer of Medellin, but we have noticed it less commonly on the coast and elsewhere. It’s an okay attempt at a pilsner, but just lacks effort in the flavour department.

5/10

Redds

Not sure this should really be in a beer review, as it tastes somewhere between a lager and lime, and a shandy, with a hint of green apples. It is infused with citrus flavours, and so it perhaps technically a fruit beer. It’s quite tasty and refreshing, as shandy tends to be, but as a beer can’t score too high a mark.

4/10

Aguila

Probably Colombia’s most popular beer, this is the Quilmes of Colombia – i.e. their common and standard bland pale lager.

4/10

Club Colombia Rojo

The Rojo is Club’s malty beer, and is a mahogany colour with tasty bitter and malt flavours. Fairly widely available too.

8/10

Aguila Light

There is only one Colombian beer more tasteless than Aguila and that is Aguila Light.

3/10

Club Colombia Negro

Club’s dark beer is a decent stab at a stout, avoiding the pitfalls of making it overly sweet and overly malty. This is like a poor man’s Guinness, but still pleasant to drink.

6/10

 

Apostol Tipo Weizen

Apostol is Colombia’s leading artisan brewer and their beers occasionally pop up in cool bars, but at almost double the price of a Club Colombian. Their weizen beer is a tasty number, smooth and wheaty.

8/10

Apostol Marzin

Apostol’s Mazin beer tastes rather like an English ale, with a good bitter-sweet balance and nutty flavours. Pick of the Apostol bunch so far.

9/10

Apostol Helles

A metallic taste at first puts one off a bit, but after a while you get used to it and the bitter hoppiness becomes a joyful mouth waterer.

8/10

Sam’s Pub English Ale

Sam’s Hostel is one of the more popular backpacker’s haunts in San Gil, and Sam has a bar down the road with a microbrewery that produces four beers. We selected two and the clueless barman battled with the draught system before announcing that one was off, but after scraping off more and more foamy head he served me the English Ale, but we could tell he knew something wasn’t right about it. This was absolutely disgusting, and once again came down to the fact that South Americans can’t seem to keep or serve draught beer. This tasted of cleaning fluid mixed with vinegar.

1/10

Poker

Outside of Medellin Poker is probably the second most consumed beer after Aguila, but it’s much the same – straightforward boring lager with little going for it.

4/10

Costena

For some reason Colombia’s giant brewer, Bavaria Brewery, who make Club Colombia as well as less flavoursome beers such as Aguila and Poker, must have decided that two bland beer brands wasn’t enough, and produced a near-identical ‘rival’. Costena refers to the people who live on the coast, but it’s made in Bogota we didn’t see any of it when we were there – it was just in Bogota.

3/10

Bruder’s Blanco

The Bruder microbrewery is from Tunja and produces four tasty foreign-style beers. Their weiss beer does taste a bit amateur it has to be said. It’s perfectly pleasant but nothing special.

6/10

Bruder’s Amber

This is much better, and tastes like a not-bad English ale. Nice and bitter.

8/10

Bruder’s Stout

Their stout is very nice – charcoal and nutty bitterness, and not too heavy or sweet. By the way, so sweetly amateur is Bruder’s that they have almost identical labelling for all four beers – just the colour of three rings differs between them.

8/10

Bruder’s Imperial Stout

This wins the award for the strongest beer sampled on the whole trip, weighing in at a massive 9.3%. However the strength is well hidden, with the alcohol lending itself instead to accentuating the burnt flavours, making it surprisingly drinkable.

7/10

Bogota Beer Company (BBC) – Bacata Blanca

Bogota Beer Company is the premier artisan brewer in Bogota, and they run nine pubs (and they are more like pubs than bars). Bacata Blanca is their Belgium style Weiss beer and is a fresh beer but perhaps lacking a little umph (it’s only 4.1%). There are also no herby or citrus flavours which could have improved it.

7/10

Poker Ligera

It must have taken the very best beer scientists many years fiddling with test-tubes to successfully remove the miniscule amount of flavour residing in Poker beer in order to make and even more watery beer. But they seem to have succeeded here. This is Poker’s light beer, which at 3.1% reminds me of the Asda Farm House no-frills lager that I once bought at uni.

3/10

Apotstol Dubbel

Apostol’s dark brown ale is almost British in character. It is balanced and bitter, with a hint of burnt caramel. Very tasty.

9/10

Apostol Bock

Oddly, Apostol’s bock is darker than there dubbel, and is more like a light stout or porter. It’s a nice drop of beer too – more burnt biter flavours, and not too sweet.

8/10

Bogota Beer Company (BBC) Monserrate Roja

At last a bar in South America that can serve draught beer! BBC’s own pub / bar serves up four of their repertoire on tap, and this is their best one. The Roja has won awards and it shows. Styled on English ale, it has fantastic bitterness combined with a smooth maltiness and the right amount of fizz.

9/10

BBC Chapinero Porter

This is a proper porter that tastes like it could come from Kent rather than Bogota. It’s fairly light and so easy to drink, but keeps a nice charcoal flavour. Delicious.

10/10

BBC Candilaria Classic

Named after the trendy Hoxton-esque district we were staying in, and where this BBC pub was located, this is apparently supposed to be modelled on a light English ale (although its’ not quite as pale as the photo would suggest), but it comes across much more like a lager. It’s a good beer but doesn’t pack the flavour punch of its stable-mates.

7/10

BBC Cajica Miel

Made with honey apparently, though it’s hard to tell. The Cajica is a good but not great lager.

7/10

BBC Policarpa El Fuerte

It certainly is fuerte! BBC’s Policarpa is a Belgium style strong lager of 8% proof. However, unlike the even stronger dark beer we tried in Colombia, this does have an overpowering taste of alcohol. It is a nice beer though, but perhaps with a bit too much wellie.

7/10

BBC Bogota Lager

This is BBBC’s flagship lager, and it’s a tasty straw coloured beer with slight fruity suggestions, but a nice bitter finish.

8/10

BBC Don Rufino

This a commemorative special edition beer made in honour Mr Rufino (didn’t read the label – no idea who he was). It’s another good but not amazing lager, which is certainly above average for South America.

7/10

BBC Zipaquira Abadia

A strong (6%) Belgium style beer, this has the body and full flavours to convince you that it could be from Belgium. Slightly sweet, but balanced with hoppy bitterness.

8/10

 

 

The average score out of ten for Colombian beer is 6.4 from 29 beers.

 

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2 Responses to “Beers of Colombia”

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  1. Continuing On To The Colombian Caribbean « outofofficetilaugust2012 - May 12, 2012

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  2. ¡Ay, Caramba – goodbye Colombia! « outofofficetilaugust2012 - May 18, 2012

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