Journey Latin America client Michael Loveday shares his advice on where to find the best artisanal beers in Central America.
Prior to a recent perambulation around Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, I spent a fairly fruitless few hours surfing the Internet only to find that the beer prognosis was ‘it’s all tasteless lager’ or something even less complimentary! Committed, on the ground research, however, revealed a very different picture.
Big supermarkets generally have a remarkably good representation of craft beers; In Granada, the excellent Garden Café offers Moropotente beers, the Nectar Bar has a decent range, as does O’Shea’s Irish Pub. I also got quite excited about ‘Beers and Pallets’, the tap room of Cerro Negro but it was closed every time I went and apparently only opens at weekends! The excellent French Bakery Café Pan e Paz (the original not the new one near the Cathedral) had an excellent beer selection, wines, nice food and a courtyard. In Managua, La Estación Central and Pasolion are the best options.
Poneloya Gose Maracuya Ale
Again, supermarkets aren’t a bad option but the best retail outlet I could find was Beer Station in the Zona Rosa (Bulevar Del Hipodromo) in San Salvador with an enormous selection and very helpful staff. Take care though, the Google search said it was shut on Saturday afternoons (it wasn’t) and took me to its old site rather than its new one which is further down the same street. Cadejo Brewing is the most prolific craft brewer in San Salvador. They have nice bars in the main centre and the Zona Rosa; in Suchitoto Hotel Los Almendros bar also has all the Cadejo beers.
Cadeja Brewing's Hija de Pooh which is a Honey Blond at 4.3%
Honduras – Copan Ruinas
LA20 Cerveceria produce packaged beers including La Jefa, a very drinkable Citrus IPA, and a Gose de Mora made with local fruit! Carnitas Nia Lola, with very friendly staff, offers all the LA20 beers plus various crafts from El Salvador.
Experientially though, a visit to the Sol de Copan Brewery (run by a German) will reward you with some very decent German style beers including a nice 6% Dunkelweizen and the braumeister confided that he sometimes turns out the odd non German style including an IPA – all draughts, no packaged beer.
In Antigua, the taps for the two in-town breweries are atmospheric but Ruta Catorce’s tap takes the prize for best sunset views! For range, the unlikely sounding Pappy’s BBQ probably has the widest selection of draught and packaged crafts.
In Isla de Flores, Cool Beans offers an impressive range with all of the beers from Ruta Catorce, Xaman and Zapote as well as a dozen from Rogue and Abita in the US. Plus their owner is enthusiastic and the service is good.
In Panajachel, for Lake Atitlan, I struggled with the Google search yielding Kaalpul Artesanal Ales which appeared to be shut or gone but eventually found a decent bottled selection of Catorce & US beers at the excellent Japanese restaurant Hana & some Guin beer at the Circus Bar.
In Guatemala City, my top pick would be the tap of El Principe Gris – one of the best restaurants in Central America (Flor de Lys) lives in the same converted colonial house.
Taps at Pappy's BBQ, Antigua.
Follow in Michael's footsteps and explore Central America with Journey Latin America. Join our Alcion Group Tour to discover the highlights of six countries, or speak to one of our travel experts to design your own bespoke Central American itinerary.