Friday, May 28, 2010

Beers of Costa Rica

I just returned from my fourth surf trip to Costa Rica, so it was time to do a review of the Cervezas de Costa Rica. I have enjoyed many beers in Costa Rica, though really haven’t tried all the brands. So I was tasked with finding the best Costa Rican beer. I have a theory that most beers in Central and Latin American are basically equal with a few exceptions. I am not talking about the occasional craft beer but what is generally known as the national beer. Such as Imperial in Costa Rica, Presidente in the Dominican Republic, Pilsener from Ecuador, Polar from Venezuela, etc. I believe all of them are good after a long day of touring in the hot sun, or surfing but not necessarily something you would seek out at home.

In Costa Rica there is one main beer manufacturer, the Florida Ice & Farm Company, aside from producing cerveza they also produce Pepsi Products, Heineken, Juices, etc. There are two main beers in Costa Rica and you’ll see their signs everywhere, Imperial and Pilsen. I have to preface that most of my time has been spent in Guanacaste so this may be different in the south of the country. Well it t turns out that Florida Ice & Farm, makes both beers, as well as Rock Ice, the Bavaria line up and others.

For fun I did a few blind taste tests through out the week with my friend Tony. We each did a blind taste test between Imperial and Pilsen, the first time in cans the second time out of the bottle, eyes closed both times. To me both beers tasted identical, maybe it was the water used, and I failed the bind test both times, and Tony failed it as well. I also failed the test between Bavaria Gold and Imperial. We used Imperial as our constant as that is the beer we are most familiar with.

On with the ratings, I am not good with tasting notes but to me Imperial, Bavaria Gold, and Pilsen where all very good, after a hot day in the sun and a great day of surfing, I give Imperial a 9, the others an 8 (this is due to my love affair with Imperial after surfing) on the BBA scale, but I have to be in Costa Rica. If I am at home, I give it a 6, as really it’s just a lager no bells or whistles. Stone Brewery would probably classify this as a fizzy yellow beer, and I would agree. So I call this a “vacation beer”, it’s like meeting a girl on vacation, you have a short fling with her, think she may be the one, but when you go home, and somehow try to keep the relationship going, well it just doesn’t work, the magic is lost. I will say the second thing I do after going through customs is finding the airport store and get a couple of coldies for the road to Tamarindo.

Rock Ice, I 'd have to give it a 3, as it was really bad in my opinion, kind of like the others but really skunked, I could not finish it (sorry Joby, you have to know when to put a bad beer down). The best beer by far was the Bavaria Dark, it was the only beer with flavor other than corn and rice. Though a dark beer, it is not too strong tasting as one would think, I had a hard time pinpointing the flavors, perhaps a hint of chocolaty malt? I would give this a BBA of 7, I would want to try this at home to see how it stacks up, drinks as smooth as New Castle, or maybe Shiner Bock.

Imperial make s a Lite Beer and a Silver (regular tasting but higher alcholol) I did not feel a need to taste these two. Bavaria also make a decent light beer. All in all Costa Rican beer is average but after a day of overhead waves, and pure stoke, anything will do. Don’t expect much and you’ll be just fine, if not you can always do shots of guaro.


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