In Colombia, cerveza flows freely. Typically you’ll find four ubiquitous pilsners that are all made by the same company and they go down as easy as water. Some are slightly better than others and the best of the bunch, Club Colombia, offers a bit more variety with two additional styles, an amber lager and a dark lager. The main brands are mild and drinkable, but I generally like my beer crafty, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that micro-brewing culture has reached Colombia and is growing steadily.
Bogota Beer Company (BBC) was my first introduction to craft beer in the country. With a reliable mix of regular and seasonal beers and its trendy and eye-pleasing packaging, it’s the Colombian craft brewery that has gained the most popularity and attention.
I first tried one of their brews with a couple of my roommates while we watched a Colombia versus Argentina match at the bar-restaurant attached to our hostel. We asked one of the hostel owners for a recommendation and he told us the Cajica Honey Ale was his favorite. It was summery and refreshing, but too light in flavor for my taste. Comparing it to a sip of Club Colombia put it into perspective though. The BBC honey ale was miles ahead and much more crisp. If airy, subtle beers are your style, this could be a good choice.
After finding out that the BBC has pubs in Bogota (twelve locations), the following day we recruited one more hostel roommate and kicked off our Saturday night at the local La Candelaria branch. The dark wood interior clearly draws inspiration from a traditional pub environment and it has a modern edge in keeping with the BBC’s overall aesthetic. Our waitress spoke English in addition to Spanish and could help explain the menu if there was something we didn’t understand.
We ordered different beers and sampled each other’s. I had the Chapinero Porter which was by far my favorite. It’s robust and evokes the flavors of coffee and chocolate. It’s lighter bodied than a typical porter which I gather suits Colombian tastes and makes it a nice option for sipping it in the chilly highlands as well as on the steamy Caribbean coast.
In addition to beer, BBC has a menu of pizza, pub food, and small plates. The food was pricey and we weren’t too hungry, so we decided to split a pizza. It was definitely tasty, but if you are hungry and on a backpacker budget, consider eating before you arrive.
Bogota Beer Company was a great find, and it’s easy to get the sense that a lot of love went into starting it and growing it into the biggest little brewery in Colombia. It reflects the spirit of Bogota, a city that feels grounded in roots while it rapidly evolves and experiments with its identity. Most of BBC’s beers are named after places in and around Bogota — a stately porter for the fancy Chapinero neighborhood, a classic beer for the old town La Candelaria, and so on. In a glass of beer, you get more than a tasty beverage, it also gives you a little taste of the city.
More craft beer in Colombia: 3 Cordilleras Brewery in Medellin