Colombia is famous for many things. Football players with impressive perms, High quality emeralds, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the C-word….yes, that’s right, Coffee!
What is less well known about the great Republic, is it has a decent selection of Colombian alcohol; and by ‘decent’, I mean drinkable.
Colombians usually drink beer, or their national liquor which is clear spirit called Aguardiente. Lets start of the with Colombian beer, and leave the aguardiente until the end. If you are wise you will have bounced by then.
Bavaria Brewery, Bogota
The two most popular lagers in Colombia are Poker and Águila, made by the deceptively branded Bavaria Brewery (Cervecería Bavaria). This Colombian brewery was founded by German immigrant Leo S. Kopp in 1889. The beers themselves are both described by the company as ‘Pilsners’, but to me they are more like pale American adjucnt style lagers, than traditional Bavarian pilsners. When somebody says Bavarian lager, I immediately expect a well hopped beverage. What we have here is teabag in the cup skullduggery. The hops didn’t stop; while passing through the brew.
Why are they so popular? probably the fact they are so cheap. In a normal shop you can pick a 237 cm³ bottle of Poker or Aguilla for about $1,500 pesos. In a bar, restaurant or nightclub, you can expect to pay anywhere from 100% to 600% mark-up, depending on the establishment. In my local supermarket recently I managed to buy 473 cm³ cans of Poker for about $1900 pesos each in a six pack.
For Europeans with an ignorance of foreign volumes; 473 cm³ is exactly the same as 473 ml. This odd measure is just a conversion of the U.S standard 16 ounce beer. That’s right you have guessed it, 237 cm³ therefore is the 8 ounce.
With some research I discovered that the multinational brewery SABMiller bought the Bavaria Brewery in 2005. SABMillers track record with lager, may go some way to explain what happened with Aguilla and Poker. Think Carling and Miller. However, this is pure speculation on my part, as I never tasted these Colombian beers before 2005. My research will continue on this matter, and I will keep you posted.
Águila and Poker
I won’t waste too much of your time telling you what they taste like. The equivalent analogy would be a Colombian visiting Dunfermline, and giving tasting notes on a can of Tennants.
This stuff gives you a hangover with a dirty synthetic profile
Now for the Good News
Firstly, the Bavaria Brewery also makes my usual tipple….Club Colombia!
Some will say this is only a marginal improvement on their economy brands, but I beg to differ. For sure it is a similar style, and if you dont like American style lagers then Colombia will disappoint you in general.
Club Colombia is Bavarias premium range and they produce Dorada (pale lager), Roja (red vienna), Negra (dark brown dunkel)
Club Colombia Dorada
Club Colombia is a range of premium beers and lagers from the Bavaria Brewery. T
Bogota Beer Company (BBC)
I never thought I would be drinking a beer made by the BBC; but here we have it.
The Bogota Beer Company was one of the new breed of artisan Colombian breweries, started as an independent craft beer maker. It was bought by Belgian multinational AB InBev in 2015.
They make a range of light and dark ales, named after Bogota locations, or towns close to the city.
Cajicá – Cerveza Rubia / Tipo Honey Ale
Cajicá is a pale honey ale named after a small town north of Bogota.
Pours light golden, with a thin head.
Supposedly brewed using honey, but what little honey flavour is overpowered by the bitterness. Marginally sweeter than usual Colombian ales, but tastes more like a corn syrup sweetness.
Price: Supermarket – $4,500 (COP)
Hangover Rating Hangover Rating = 2 Mushroom Heads
A beer with a big mouth. Threatening to ruin your head. Then does turn up the next day. Coward!
Bogota Beer Company Premium Lager (5%)
Pours pale yellow, with a thick white head that clears rapidly.
A very sour watery flavour. Dry and lacking depth. An attempt at a cheap mainstream lager with a taste to match.
I still prefer the Club Colombia
Price: Supermarket – $3,500 (COP)
Sickly Arequipe aroma. Not pleasant smelling. But still one of the better BBC ales in my opinion.
colombian alcohol aguardiente