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Monthly Archives: October 2008

One of the most crucial questions for any person traveling to anywhere is what beer you drink… while in many countries you have a choice from a huge variety of beer, this is quite different in Central America. Most countries have between 2-3 beer brands to choose and mostly they are produced by the same brewery. This is the case with Balboa and Panama in Panama, Toña/Victoria in Nicaraugua and it most definitively is with Pilsen/Imperial in Costa Rica. Although the producing brewery Florida Co. has released some further beers, the question of faith is still: Imperial or Pilsen?

Truth be told, there is not much of a taste difference between the two. Pilsen contains a bit more alcohol (5,1%, compared to Imperial’s 4,6%) and is a bit more aromatic. But on a hot day when you’re just thirsty, wanting to enjoy a fresh cerveza you might hardly tell the difference between the two. Neither you will after having had a couple already. Nevertheless, Pilsen drinkers look down on “Imperialists” and vice versa. Imperial, also called “aguila” (the Spanish word for the eagle depicted on the bottle) is known as a gringo beer in some parts of Costa Rica, apparently because its design appeals more to tourists, uncertain which of the two beers to choose. Hence, they end up drinking Imperial.

I just want to point out that this war of believes is nothing short of pointless. Compared to the varieties of taste in European beers, there is not much of a difference between the two. However, the only Costa Rican brewery mentioned above has released a new brand of beer a couple of years ago, called “Bavaria“. There is a dark and a light one and, for Central American standards, this beer is a real revelation. As the name foretells, this beer is aimed towards the German brewing tradition (rather than the North American) and the result is definitively one of Central America’s best – particularly if you compare it to the light-beer water of Panama (with max. 3,5% alcohol)!

So I do recommend to drink Bavaria when you do have a real choice. If not (as in most parts of the country) and you can only choose between the two classical brands Imperial and Pilsen: I recommend you adapt to your environment and drink whatever they drink, assuring them that this is clearly the better beer than the other one…



I have just found another blog entry of an overt alcoholic 🙂 which leaves a bad taste in my mouth full of Flor de Caña. That fellow is writing about the Guatemalan Zacapa rum and singing its song of praise. Much better than I sang mine. Unfortunately, I have to admit that Zacapa is without the shadow of a doubt the best rum that ever crossed my palate. As the writer rightly states, Zacapa is not distilled from molasses, but only from the first sugar cane syrup pressing. This and its slow aging on 1500 metres above sea level contribute to its taste. This puts me in a (typical?) Central American conflict… one small Central American country’s product against the other…

Well, I am honest enough to admit that Zacapa is the shit. But no wonder, the youngest rum they offer is 15 years old (only 16 and 21 year old rum is sold as export and of course the older stuff I cannot afford). Still, what makes Flor de Caña special is the way you drink it: at the beach, with friends, in the dark (when electricity has disappeared) and out of the bottle. No, that’s not what I wanted to say. Again: Zacapa is the best rum I know to drink straight. Flor de Caña has a fabulous taste too, but it’s not quite the same category. It is, however, the best rum I know to mix with. I have to say that I don’t mix it so much with Coke anymore. Being in Costa Rica, you get used to the daily availability of fresh fruit and that’s what I love mixing it most. And then, mixing Zacapa with all this fruity stuff would be nothing short of waste. So check out for an exclusive tour of this Guatemalan wonder distillery. But remember: Nothing beats Flor de Caña in spirit…