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Colombian Beer

So, you're going to Colombia for a couple of weeks or months. You're probably going to end up throwing back a few cold beers every now and again. So what exactly is the beer in Colombia like? Colombia is no Germany or Czech Republic, but you'll probably find that with the wide variety of domestic beers and the extremely reasonable prices, Colombia is a great place for a beer lover.
Aguila Girls

A few points: First of all, going out to bars and night clubs, drinks are generally much cheaper than in the United States or Europe. Additionally, in more run-of-the-mill type spots, there is very little difference between the cost of a beer in a bar, or what you would pay in a grocery or liquor store. In a typical bar, expect to pay anywhere from $1.500 to $2.500 pesos per domestic beer. That's between $.75 and $1.25. Not bad, right? When was the last time you got a beer for a dollar in the US?

However, if you want to impress that girl you met yesterday at the bus stop, you'll probably want to class things up a bit. While college students and working/middle class Colombians like more "cantina" type bars, there is a whole other world of nightlife where you can expect to pay more per beer. I, personally, like mid-range bars that you'll find in most major cities like Bogota, Medellin, and Cali. These places are a bit more exclusive, trendier, and attract a more upscale caliber of patron. Here you might pay anywhere from $2.500 to $5.000 a beer (or more or less $1.25 to $2.50).

Club Colombia

But if you really want to live it up in Colombia in a fancy bar or night club (say in Calle 82 in Bogota, El Poblado in Medellin, or Menga in Cali), get ready to open up your wallet. Beers will go for $8.000, $10.000, or perhaps even $12.000. But that's still better than you'll find in that bar in Manhattan frequented by pretentious assholes!

Poker

Then again, if you're on a budget, there is no better way to have fun and make a few friends than enjoying a few cold frosty brews in a park or on the street. Ask locals first though, to make sure the authorities don't mind. While laws about drinking in public do exist in Colombia, they are almost never enforced. As long as you are not causing trouble, the police have better things to do that bother you for that Aguila you're drinking.

Beer is probably the second most popular alcoholic beverage in Colombia, after the ubiquitous aguardiente, an anise-flavored liquor. People typically drink both at once, washing down shots of aguardiente with beer.

So what are your options for domestic beer in Colombia? There are the big five: Aguila, Poker, Costena, Club Colombia, and Pilsen. They are all priced about the same, but Club Colombia does offer some premium beers as well.

 

Aguila is probably the most popular beer nationwide. It's pretty smooth and flavorful, perhaps comparable to a Budweiser in the US. It's the beer that you will consistently find just about everywhere in the country.Costena

Costena is also widely available but not quite as much as Aguila. It has a stronger, slightly bitter flavor, but not overwhelmingly so. I think it's the best of the bunch.

Pilsen is a beer that is sold mainly in the Medellin/paisa region. Like Costena, it's got a stronger, slightly bitter flavor.

Poker is probably the second most popular beer in all of Colombia, after Aguila. While it may have the best label design, I think it's the worst of the bunch.

 


Club Colombia is Colombia's premium domestic beer, and is available in red (roja) and black (negra). It typically costs a little bit more than the other four.

Interestingly, all of these beer brands are products of the same company: the Bavaria Brewery (Cerveceria Bavaria) which is one of the largest companies in Colombia, employing over 16,000 people, and trades on the Colombian stock exchange.

 

 

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