Chile isn’t the only South American nation that is taking to craft beer. Colombia, which is better known for mass produced lagers like Aguila and Club Colombia, is taking big steps towards cerveza artisanal. In Medellin, craft brewery 3 Cordilleras is causing something of a scene. On Thursday nights, from 5:30-9pm, they open their brewery doors to the public hosting brewery tours and a lively bar area with live music and the incredible deal of five beers for CP$15,000. The later the evening gets the more crowded it gets. It’s standing room only. During the brewery tours, sometimes lead by the owner Juanchi Vélez, there are groups of 20-30 people, few of which have ever tried anything other than a basic lager. Still, they’re asking questions. What makes a beer dark? Where do you get your hops? It’s the start of something.
3 Cordilleras (Medellin):
They offer a Stout (Negra), Belgian Wheat (Blanca), Amber Ale (Mulata), American Pale Ale (Mestiza), and various seasonal and special brews like a Saisson and an India Pale Ale. The owner began his interest in artisanal beer while living in Atlanta. He discovered Sweetwater and soon took a job there, learning everything he could for the next six years. Launched in 2008, Tres Cordilleras has quickly become the Medellin’s go to beer. 3cordilleras.com
Bogota Beer Company (Bogota):
Not long ago I could remember having a pint at the Bogota Beer Company, at the time just a small brewpub in central Bogota. It was good, but that was the only place you could find it. They’ve expanded. Their slogon is now “La cervecería pequeña más grande de Bogotá,” or the “biggest small brewery in Bogota.” There are small BBC bars all over Bogota, 12 of them to be exact, their own Radio station, and brewery tours with food and transportation. They have six regular beers on tap (lager, ale, honey ale, red ale, porter, and an oatmeal stout), each named after a different Bogota neighborhood such as Candelaria or Monserrate. Some of their seasonal brews include a Strong Ale and an IPA. Most of the beers have 5% alcohol. Their Chapinero Porter is, at least in my opinion, the country’s best beer. bogotabeercompany.com
Microbreweries Apostol (Medellin):
Formerly known as San Tomás, Apostol, which also launched in 2008, follows the lead less of American craft beer than traditional German styles, ranging from Hefe Weizen and Märzen to Dubbel and Bock. The very name and logo of Apostol beer is a homage to the traditional Trappist beers, which were brewed by monks under extremely strict conditions in Cisterician monasteries. apostol.com.co
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.