Wow. No, really…wow. I know I have a tendency to be overly upbeat about things but it’s tough not to be optimistic here. At least for me. But when I heard about the Festival Cerveza Artesanal, I dare say I was worried. I wanted it so much to be good that I was even thinking about not posting about it if it was bad. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that. It was fucking great.
Not only was it great, it blew my expectations out of the water, especially since it’s the first EVER here in Costa Rica (maybe even in Central America). I have gone to my share of beer festivals and some have come to near riots when beer ran out midway through the event, so when Rafa and I finally got there, nearly four hours after it started, I was a tad panicked. People packed under a long sprawling tent lined with beer vendors, most of which I never heard of. I was vibrating with excitement.
The event was organized by Product C, seafood restaurants, and Costa Rica Craft Brewery. Both highly successful and perfection driven companies that broke into the new market of Costa Rica. Many of the brewers that participated were just fledgling businesses, with no distribution yet, and even others were only personal brewing enthusiasts. With a limited amount of tickets being sold, it made the whole event quite intimate. People where there for the love of good beer.
Ticket holders were given one of two booklets to rate the beers. The “VIP” tickets allowed access to the full selection of beers, while the rest were only allowed to sample eight. Since the “VIP” tickets were already sold out, Rafa and I were relegated to the lower class. Based on past beer festival experience, I told Rafa not to offer the booklet unless asked. We pretty much weaseled our way into all we wanted to try. I guess it also helps to tell them you are going to give them free advertising too. What really surprised me the most was the variety of beer. Each vendor went out of their way to produce some unique and amazing brews. There were porters, stouts, reds, divine pale ales, and a delicate petite saison by fellow blogger and beer lover Thristy Pilgrim. I was blown away. There was a cacao stout on the VIP list who initially refused my request, but I got it anyway in the end (nah, nah) and malpais pale ale by La Perra Hermosa, that was out of this world. Look for Treintaycinco to break into the market on creativity and sheer enthusiasm alone, not to mention they swept up many of the awards in the festival.
Volcano Brewery looks to be the next big craft beer on the market and will be giving CRCB a run for their money. Competition is good. It keeps quality up. I could go on and on about these brewers but I am going to let you in on a little secret. I plan on trekking to and posting about each one. What better way to get the word out there?!
In the meantime fellow Costa Ricans and parched expats, should you have the initiative to try brewing your own batch be sure to look into La Bodega de Chema for all your beer brewing needs. I can think of no better way to learn Spanish than taking a class on how to brew beer. I feel truly sad for those of you who missed this opportunity BUT fret not! All it takes is for you to demand good beer and well, look for it. If you drink it, they will brew it. Check out the links I have posted and make connections. Life is too short to drink crappy beer, especially in paradise. Stay thirsty my friends.