Every good revolution starts as a crazy idea. When the first dedicated brewers began making cerveza artesanal in Costa Rica, they were met with legal and logistical roadblocks and widespread indifference from consumers who were content sipping on Pilsen and Imperial.
But pioneers like Peter Gilman of Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company and Adolfo Marín of Cervecería Primate, Stiefel Pub and CASA Brew Garden continued to make beer, undeterred by the challenges.
About six years into the craft beer movement, Costa Rica’s brewers have turned a once black-and-white scene into a kaleidoscope of options. From American IPAs to Saisons to Witbiers, they’ve opened up a whole new, hop-infused world to Costa Rican beer drinkers.
Their products are slowly creeping into supermarket coolers and completely transforming areas like San José’s Barrio Escalante, which seems to add a new brewpub every few months.
And though the scene here is young, it’s already well-accomplished. In last year’s Copa Cervezas de América Latin American beer competition, five Costa Rican beers took home medals, proving that the craft beer movement is not only here to stay, but also demands the attention and respect of the country’s thirsty patrons.
Marín’s San Jose IPA won silver at last year’s awards in the American IPA category.
“If you’re making something that you like, half of the battle has already been won,” Marín told The Tico Times in November. “And then if it tastes good, even better.”
Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company also won a silver medal for its Malacrianza in the Strong Scotch Ale category, and Costa Rica Meadery won two silvers for its Passiflora and ChiCheMel Caribeño meads. The latter also won a silver medal in the sweet mead category at the Mazer Cup in 2015.
Three other Tico beers won bronze medals at the Copa Cervezas de América competition last year: Calle Cimarrona’s Mascarada in the Wild Specialty Beer category; and Treintaycinco’s Pelona and Treintay© in the American IPA and English IPA categories, respectively.
But receiving international recognition for their quality brews is just icing on the cake for local brewers, who through sweat and stamina are staking out their territory in Costa Rica’s beer market and winning over a steady stream of consumers.
Don’t miss The Tico Times’ upcoming event “News and Brews: A Conversation about Costa Rica craft beer” on Saturday, May 14 at 5 p.m. at El Steinvorth in San José. Tickets are ₡10,000 ($19) and can be purchased in advance through our online store, by phone at 2258-1558 or at our offices in Barrio Amón, on Ave. 11, between calles 5 and 7. Tickets will cost ₡12,000 at the door.