Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Drinking Local in Costa Rica at That Craft Brewery.

So they threw a couple old sofas, tables and chairs into the warehouse half of the brewery. They posted up some visiting hours. The taps for tasting include the two flagships plus an experimental brew or two. Now, rare is the weekday that there aren't customers or clients or tourists or other interested parties stopping by Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Company to have a look-see and sample the wares.

OK, maybe I'm a touch nostalgic for the days when I was one of the few who knew how to find the damn place. But the tasting area more than makes up for having to share it.

"That craft brewery," which is what folks around here seem to call it for lack of a better nickname, opened just seven months ago. Today it counts more than 80 bars and restaurants among its bottled beer accounts. Its most prolific clients are 17 or so keg accounts whose beer add up to about 65 percent of the brewery's sales, according to co-owner Peter Gilman. Draft beer wins again.

At the moment, would-be accounts are on a waiting list to get the beer. The brewery is selling every last drop of red, hoppy Segua and golden, Kölsch-like Libertas, and it wants to make sure it won't run out of beer for existing clients. Additional fermenters are on the way to widen the bottleneck and allow more production.

The Missus and I popped in there last week to say hello and buy a case of Segua. While there we sampled a few of brewmaster C.S. Derrick's latest experiments. They included a ruddy, fruity Scottish ale made with a touch of smoked malt. (That one may appear as a seasonal at the draft accounts this fall.) We also tried a couple of tart saisons, including one with pepper and flor de jamaica, a.k.a. hibiscus (pictured). More refreshing than I would have expected, given that spiced beers can raise my hackles a bit. Meanwhile a dusty-hopped session-strength bitter hit my sweet spot.

If you go: This map shows where to find the brewery, outside of Cartago. It's open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m to 5 p.m., but tours are possible Wednesday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., by appointment only.

If you come to Costa Rica and want to find the beers: Bottle accounts here, draft accounts here. Plenty of options these days.

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