Which beer is worthy of gracing your new singlet? Here’s your guide to the beers of Central America.
Now, I’m not an expert beer drinker but between myself and the rest of the tour group, I think we drank enough bottles to be able to tell you what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what the best beer in Central America is.
For me, there’s nothing I’d rather have in my hand watching the sun go down than an icy, local beer. Beer always screams summer at me. Although you’ll find me with a pint in a pub at home, something about it (okay, the budget price) always makes it my holiday drink of choice. Unless rum is also cheap. Then rum, rum all the time.
In Belize, everything is brewed by the same company, in the same factory. You can order something other than Belikin (Red Stripe and Guinness are your limits), but be prepared for it to taste nothing like the same beer you would order at home. Belikin is nothing special, the stout and premium versions only marginally improving on the original. The most interesting part we noticed is the difference in flavour across various bottles – I guess quality control isn’t their strong point! The official description is “a full-bodied beer with a medium golden colour”.
There seemed to be three most readily available beers in Guatemala – Gallo, Brahva and Victoria. Gallo, a pale lager, is definitely the most common. Whilst it wasn’t my favourite in Central America, it marginally improves upon Belikin. According to the website, you should be able to taste the eucalyptus and citrus notes.
Salva Vida, Port Royal and Imperial seem to dominate here. I would say Salva Vida (it means lifesaver, which I feel is appropriate) was the most commonly available. It’s a lager with not much taste. Imperial is darker with a little more flavour and Port Royal sits somewhere between the two.
You generally have two choices in Nicaragua – Toña or Victoria. They are both lagers. My personal choice was always Victoria, although it’s a different Victoria to the Guatemalan or Mexican varieties.
The two most popular beers in Costa Rica are Imperial, followed by Pilsen. Personally, I found Imperial to taste fine when it was icy cold but by the time you were halfway through the bottle it had lost all taste. However, its popularity is clear to see on all souvenir merchandise. Pilsen has a stronger alcohol content (which I was often reminded of when ordering it) and was one of my favourites throughout the whole of Central America.
Bavaria is also widely available but I was so taken with Pilsen, I never bothered to taste my way through the three different varieties – Bavaria Gold, Bavaria Light and Bavaria Dark.