Here Are Some Of The Craft Beers Coming From Latin America Worth Trying Out
Latin America is one of the best foodie paradises in the world. As we recently reported, Latin America houses some of the best restaurants and most creative chefs in the world. The foodie revolution in the region is not limited to restaurants but expands to artisanal products such as wines and beers. Yes, classics like Quilmes, XX and Corona still dominate the market in the region, but other smaller breweries are doing their best to bring some variety to the market. Yes, international brands such as Budweiser, which is the most valuable in the world and is going strong in key Latin American markets like Mexico and Colombia, still dominate the market, but cheleros are finding out that not all beer tastes the same.
But cerveza is important in Latin America for economic reasons as well. In Mexico, for example, beer is one massive industry both locally and in terms of exports. According to C.E. NAFTA 2.0: “Mexican beer brands reach more than 180 countries. The United States received 72 percent of exports; the United Kingdom 3.3 percent, China 2.8 percent, Canada 2.8 percent and Chile 1.8 percent.” Mainstream Mexican beer labels are also leading the way in terms of sustainability. As reported by The Swazi Observer: “Green beer used to be a St. Patricks Day gimmick, but a sustainability movement seems to be taking off in the beer packaging industry. Diageo, the manufacturer of St. Patricks Day favorite, Guinness, announced in April that they will eliminate plastic from their beer packaging. In the two months since the Guinness announcement, the brewer of Mexican beer Corona has introduced a new can that doesn’t require plastic ring carriers”. Not bad at all! All these best practices filter down to smaller producers who are starting to make a mark.
Here are some beers that are worth a taste and that showcase the renewed creativity and commitment of Latin American beer makers. You can find some of these in the United States, and you can try others when you travel to Latin America (it is always a good idea to get to know the region).
Country of origin: Mexico
Type of beer: lager
Pairings: seafood, particularly Sinaloa style mariscos (did anyone say taco gobernador?)
The new star of the Mexican beer landscape. It has an alcohol level of 3.6 percent so it is light and refreshing.
What critics say: “Bottle in CDMX. Clear gold with a small white head. The aroma is nice, grassy, hay, bread. The flavor is slightly sweet, crisp, slightly bitter. Medium-light body, crisp. Good for the style” nickd717 in Rate Beer. This beer is growing in popularity in Mexico City and top-notch restaurants such as Pujol often have it at hand. There are other notable small breweries in Mexico such as the now-classic Casta from Monterrey, but Colimita is leading the way in the integration of these small labels into the mainstream.
Beer: Lumpen (birra arte)
Country of origin: Argentina
Type of beer: Dude (oatmeal stout) and Quiroga (gose), Jaco (Belgian blonde) and Guaica (lager)
Pairings: Honestly, these are better enjoyed by themselves, as they offer very specific notes
Argentina is one of the foodie epicenters of the region due to its many influences. Argentinians call beer “birra”, which is Italian rather than Spanish and shows how engrained European culture is in the country, particularly in the capital Buenos Aires. Rather than a brewery that fits the mold, they are a sort of beer laboratory where they experiment with European styles such as the Belgian wheat beer or the very heavy and honeyed oatmeal stout. Their branding is super fun and even le rinde honor to pop culture symbols such as The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Now, can you imagine yourself having one of these after a day walking under the blistering sun in the Rio de la Plata? We certainly can!
Country of origin: Argentina
Type of beer: red, black and honey
Pairings: a good asado argentino, of course, pibe!
We love a good, chunky beer can. This boutique brewery in Buenos Aires has gotten a sort of cult reputation. Distribution is still limited, but they are favoring quality over quantity. They are not trying to be fancy or pretentious: it is a true cerveza de barrio that goes well with a traditional Argentinian asado (BBQ). The Argentinian craft beer industry is living a great moment. As reported by The Korea Times, some Argentinian beer labels are breaking into the Korean market: “’I am honored to see to premium Argentine beer imported to Korea for the first time,’ Argentine Ambassador Alfredo Carlos Bascou said during the campaign at E-mart headquarters in Seongsu-dong, Seoul, July 25. ‘I hope to see other Argentine beers in the very near future.’” Argentinian wine is loved all over the world, and beer might be the next big thing coming out of the South American country.
Beer: Cerveza Guin, Vanushka
Country of origin: Guatemala
Type of beer: stout
Pairings: meat-based dishes (did anyone say tacos de arrachera?)
Guatemala is living a tourism renaissance thanks to the vibrancy and beauty of its population, its Mayan ruins and the ventures started by expats from the US and Europe. Out of Quetzaltenango comes this recently released stout that is chocolatey and light at the same time. Don’t be surprised if Guatemala becomes a small chelera powerhouse in the future. After years of social unrest, Guatemala is slowly but surely becoming a viable and interesting tourist destination, and it is important to support small local businesses.
Beer: Cerveza Cuello Negro
Country of origin: Chile
Type of beer: Stout
Pairings: chocolate truffles, strong cheeses, beef pies
Chile has had constant flows of German immigration, and that has transpired into the outstanding craft beers. This one has a nose and a taste of chocolate and coffee, like any good European-style stout. You can also get tinges of caramel that warm you up in a winter night. User Grumbo says in Rate Beer: “Aroma of chocolate, roasted malt, sweet aniseed, coffee and black treacle with a hint of tamarind. Moderate sweetness with medium to heavy roasted bitterness”. We love a good dark beer on a rainy afternoon.
Beer: Green Hops
Country of origin: Colombia
Type of beer: pale ale, dark ale, red ale
Pairings: strong cheeses, charcuterie, a nice crusty loaf of sourdough bread
The design in their bottles is as hipster as it gets but also reminds us of the great golden pieces that Colombian craftsmen have perfected since before colonization. This Colombian craft brewery is located in Bogota. They specialize in ales, which is a type of beer brewed using a warm fermentation method. The result: a sweet, full-bodied and fruity taste. Yes, please.
Beer: Cusquena Roja
Country of origin: Peru
Type of beer: Amber lager
Pairings: salty and spicy food
This Peruvian beer is a classic in the South American country. It is not fantastic, but it will do the trick if you are looking for something a bit more sophisticated than the average beer. User lutton says in Beer Rate: “Bottle in Lima. Small foam. Slightly richer red-orange body, slightly in the Vienna territory. Slightly richer, caramel malt. Not too sweet but much more than the regular Cusquenas.”