Saturday, June 5, 2010

Now Let's Talk About That 3 Percent.

That sliver of market not owned by the monopoly's marketing departments is — for the moment — entirely comprised of imports. That doesn't include familiar faces like Heineken and Corona, handled here by the aforementioned monopoly. It would include Guinness, Leffe, Duvel and Oettinger, which are all becoming more common on supermarket shelves here. Which is not to say that they are widely popular.

Oettinger is really an odd one. I'll have to tell you about that another day.

Our first big surprise was finding Sam Adams, brewer and patriot, about a month ago at an upscale supermarket here in Escazú. But that was nothing compared to the most recent discovery — a chunk of North Coast's stable, out of Fort Bragg, California. So far we've seen Scrimshaw Lager, Red Seal Ale and the Belgian-style Pranqster. I saw a shelf tag for the Acme IPA, but no bottle yet. The prices range from the equivalent of $3 to $5 per bottle. We've only found them in one place: the American-owned Fresh Market supermarket in Santa Ana.

What does it all mean? Besides the news that you can stop weeping for hop-starved gringos in paradise, it might say something about the global reach of American craft beer. And we can thank a corporate supermarket chain for daring to smuggle in the contraband.

We are not the only ones who've noticed. North Coast's shelf space was nearly decimated when we found it — and we did our best to clean out the rest — while other pricey ones like Duvel and Leffe looked untouched.

With luck the masters will get the message: Send more contraband.

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