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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…

Salud!

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One Comment

  1. My dad lives in costa rica, and when I visit him, it’s always Pilsen. I think it has a lot more flavor, and I like how it’s kind of unknown in the states where as imperial can be found all over here (southern cal), so it feels like a treat when I’m down there.


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