I’m a man of simple pleasures: music, books, football, travel… These are the things I think about during my spare time. One thing about these interests that frustrates me, however, is that I can’t drink them. That’s where beer comes in. I can drink beer. Delicious, delicious beer.
One thing I was worried about before coming to Colombia was the quality of beer, since South America isn’t really notorious for its beers (although, of course, there are some exceptions). So imagine my relief upon arrival when I was told by some reliable sources that in actual fact Bogotá has a great selection of international-standard beers in a number of different pubs.
And it’s not just the posh joints that serve you a decent bit of booze. From the cheapest on offer (Aguila, Poker) and upwards, the standard is always pretty high.
I’ve specified Bogotá here because many areas brew their own beers (Boyaca, Medellin to name just two) and it’s beyond one post’s scope to try and name them all.
So here’s a run down of some of the beers in Bogotá (and around the country):
It’s fair to say that Aguila is the beer of Colombia. Just watch the video. Colombians everywhere are proud of this beer and it’s ubiquitous presence is testament to that. It’s a pretty innocuous flavour, but good for a summer’s day.
Poker is my regular drink. It’s got a slightly darker taste than Aguila, but still goes down pretty easy. As in, 6 bottles after football kind of easy.
Club Colombia is supposedly a step up from Poker and Aguila, and in my humble opinion you can taste the difference. The Roja, particularly, has a very distinct flavour. Generally this lager costs about $500 – $1,000 more than your cheaper brands, so if you’re feeling flash this may be the tipple for you.
Sierra del Tigre (Britannia Pub, Salitre)
One of the best beers in Colombia, Sierra del Tigre is made in Bogotá by a few beer aficionados, and it shows. Refreshing and complex, it’s a light and slightly bitter (but still fruity) beer that can only be found in La Britannia (as far as I know) which is a pub run by a Welsh guy. So you know it’s going to be good.
Bogotá Beer Company
All the beers of Bogotá Beer Company are of a good quality, but a couple stand out. The Usaquen Stout is, for me, easily the best stout I’ve tried in South America. While it might not rival the pint you’ll get pulled in Dublin, it’s still a valiant effort and one I come back to whenever it’s available.
With the aroma and taste of the Septimazo IPA I’m immediately transported back to my local pub, The Chequers, in England. I see myself sitting across from my friend, chatting about the football that happened at the weekend or glancing longingly at the quiz machine. We’ve got an open bag of crinkly McCoys and a pint in our hands. We’re happy. For this I rank this IPA as one of the best in South America.
Irish Pub/Bogotá Beer Company
I’ve included Bogotá Beer Company again here because the Irish Pub and BBC both pour the same beers by the pint (although using different names). The standard pints are good, but the mixes, like the black and red mixture, are where it’s really at. Mixing two beers would normally be my idea of a nightmare, and is something I only used to do at university when I lost a bet. Both The Pub and Bogotá Beer Company do it, however, and the results are surprisingly good. Out of all the standard beers on offer at The Pub, I prefer to take a nice mix of the red and stout beers. Shouldn’t work, but it really does.
Apostol might not look South American, but it’s a Colombian brand that has become increasingly popular recently. Along with BBC beers it’s become known as the premium brand of bottled beers for hipster cafes and bars thanks to it’s rich flavour. Definitely worth seeking out.
Costeña is usually priced along with Poker and Aguila but lacks the flavour of either of those beers. Not really worth, I’m afraid to say.
What are some of your best beers in town?