Monday, January 31, 2011

The Beers of Bogotá

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Seriously, he did.

A Greek philosopher once said, “A country’s true character can be measured by the quality of its beer.”

Okay, maybe I made that one up.

At any rate, I am an American; therefore, I love beer. Naturally, I conducted a thorough investigation of Colombia’s beer culture, taking it upon myself to acquire first-hand data from the field.

Here are my results:

Poker—“Bogotá’s Budweiser”
With a suggested retail price of a mere $1,300 pesos (75 cents), this is every Colombia’s go-to beer. Whether you stop by a small-town tienda or visit one of Bogotá booming discotecas, you will find many a Colombian hand accompanied by a bottle of this popular brew. In this gringo’s opinion, Poker is, in fact, superior to Budweiser. Call him a communist, but it’s true. If you are pinching pesos but still want to have a good time, order a few Pokers and you will soon be fiesta-ing like its 1959.
Aguila—“Colombia’s Coor’s Light”
As Poker’s primary competitor, Aguila is also a popular go-to beer throughout the land of El Dorado. Although some might disagree, this gringo believes Aguila’s electrifying taste to be superior to Poker’s homeliness. It also comes in a cooler-looking bottle. Regardless, a few bottles of Aguila will have you impressing the senoritas with your gringo salsa moves in no time.

Redd’s—“South America’s Smirnoff Ice”
During this gringo’s first week in Colombia, he entered a small tienda and asked for a cerveza. The tienda owner, knowing he was a gringo, served him the most expensive beer he had—Redd’s. He took his first sip and was immediately reminded of the summer Icings of ’10. It was sweet, like cider, but with a hint of alcohol. It wasn’t until this gringo was halfway finished with the beer that his suspicions were confirmed when he learned it was actually a girl beer. Tired of Bros Icing Bros? Then come to Colombia and try Bros Redding Bros. It’s the next big thing.     

Club Colombia—“The Boston Lager of Bogotá”
While the lager known as Club Colombia is more expensive than its counterparts, you get what you pay for. It tastes almost like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but is advertized as a lager, and therefore must be classified as thus. Club Colombia’s superior taste and potency make it a popular choice for the Bogotá elite; however, gringos living off a volunteer’s stipend tend to avoid it.

A BBC Giraffe
Bogotá Beer Company
If you are a lover of freshly-brewed beers and also happen to be in Bogotá, then you are in luck. Bogota Beer Company is chain of brewery-restaurants throughout Northern Bogotá that offer the best beer in the country, hands-down. They offer a variety of house-made beers, from darker stouts to lighter golden beers. This gringo’s favorite is the Roja, which is reminiscent of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which also happens to be his favorite American beer. If you are thirsty, be sure to order a giraffe, a literal tower of cerveza that will ensure everyone goes home happy.

Most Colombians will tell you that their beer is, in a word, shit. After many nights of exhausting methodical research, this gringo must disagree. While Colombia’s beers may not win any international awards, they still get job done more gracefully than Keystone, Natural Ice or PBR and that counts for something.

PLEASE NOTE: Although beer-lovers will be happy in Colombia, connoisseurs of fine wines should probably just go to Argentina or Chile.

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