Part 1 of 3 – Craft Beers with a Tropical Twist
Do you know that according to the 2011 Food and Lifestyle Report from the Kirin Institute, Panama ranks 11th in the world for beer consumption per capita? This is four spots ahead of the United States which came in at 15th, and far outstrips the next Latin American country on the list, Mexico, which came in at 31st. With each adult in Panama consuming an average of 80 liters of beer a year, it’s no surprise that master brewers are starting to take note of this area.
Panama is home to two major breweries and four domestic brands of beer: Panama and Soberana, which are brewed by Cervecerías Barú-Panama, and Atlas and Balboa, offered by Cerveceria Nacional. While each of these brands has its own characteristics, they’re all considered fairly light and generic fare.
Enter the microbreweries, however, and things start looking up for serious beer drinkers. Panama’s first Micro Brew Fest took place in March 2013 and by all accounts was a rousing success. Offering more than twenty different styles of craft beer, the festival highlighted both local and international brewers and is planned going forward as an annual attraction.
Why craft beer? According to aficionados, it’s the care with which it’s brewed that makes all the difference, and the brewers opening shop here have decades of experience. While taking into account the tropical climate and Panama’s corresponding preference for lighter beverages, these master brewers are introducing new tastes and textures without the extra additives required by mass production. The freshness is unmistakable, even though for the most part all their ingredients must be imported – Panama’s climate is just not conducive to growing malt and hops.
Part Two of this series introduces some of the latest craft breweries calling Panama home. And in Part Three we take a closer look at La Rana Dorada, the Golden Frog. Salud!