From our roaming beer idiot in Central and South America
“Beer can take you places a Boeing never could.” – David Deubelbeiss
I’ve traveled the world during the few days I’ve been allotted by my sweet Lord, Jehovah, Allah, Tao – whatever you call him, her or it. And everywhere I’ve been, I’ve enjoyed picking at or pounding quality pints. I’ve drank Kozel with Hrabal in the Zlaty Tigr, Prague. I’ve downed Gold Asahi outside Family Marts in Korea until the plastic chairs beneath me melted, I’ve drank banana beer with the locals until I howled like a monkey…. I won’t drone on and on about my adventures but will get straight to the point. I’ve finally found beer heaven. Beers with a view.
I’ve landed in Antigua, Guatemala, a mile high between huge volcanoes and endless coffee “fincas” – plantations. I’m at Cerveceria Catorce 14 (it’s on Highway 14 – go figure), a brewery in Ciudad Vieja, Sacatepequez. I’m working on a beautiful coffee stout. I’m looking up at a view to kill for. I’m licking my lips. I’m not moving….
Central America has really been on a craft beer binge of late and it’s great for those of us who pray each night to the beer gods. When I first got here six years ago you had to settle for the normal swill. The Gallos, the Brahvas (that’s not a spelling mistake – it’s actually called that here in “Guate”. Brahma refers to a dog in heat (bitch), so the big pussy breweries couldn’t go with that.), Moza, Victoria and so many others. They are good for hot afternoons and poor pocketbooks. Just telling the truth. I’m not trashing these beers but they just don’t “get you there”.
It’s all about craft beer these days in Central America. You got Antigua Brewing Co. and Cadejo in El Salvador. There are many others and time will tell who survives and I’ll be writing about them in the coming weeks, months and years ….. But right now, I’m in heaven, I’ve got a beer with a view.
Cerveceria Catorce is a cool place. It’s out in the countryside and there’s a kid’s play area to kill for. There’s corn hole and dogs running around, free and easy. Cool music and an amphitheater for afternoon and evening music. Campfires. Food cooked by locals and that tastes local. You even get a free tour of the brewery. It’s right there where you drink. Oh, and did I mention the view?
The idea is to make good beer and build a quality place where people can enjoy amazing beer. For me, it is about the view. You see, beer is a thing that takes you places. It’s a quality of mind, good beer that is…. And with a view, you can get there, get where you can never go by plane, train or automobile. You see, good beer (and bless those Catholics that added the hops and made it meditatively so), is a view. Put that together with Cerveceria Catorce’s view and you get a big BANG.
But back to the beer. Here at Cerveceria Catorce, they’ve got five kinds for all tastes and temperaments and some killer stuff fecundating in mora (blackberry) whiskey barrels. The brewing process is state of the art with everything sourced from the best ingredients and imported. No skimping. Real deal. The brew master and investors are here for the long term. That’s a joy to behold in this throwaway, try this, get in and out pretentious world we live and drink beer in.
But again, it’s all about the view. And the “Pinchazo” (8.2% ABV. 51 IBU.). If you like a coffee stout, you gotta come. Get here if you can sang Oleta Adams. “Just get here when you can.”
There is nothing like drinking coffee stout in a land of coffee, looking up at the godly Fuego belching and spewing red hot stuff right before your eyes. And I’m not kidding you. Mere kilometers from here people did die, hundreds this July – but you’ll be ok – just order the Pinchazo, the flat tire. The world is and will always be a “deadly” place but the beer makes it beerable.
Listen. I’m not a big fan of beer tourism. “Beer there, drunk that.” Especially the European kind. Fuck that. Crowds. Pretentious twats …. I’d usually advise you to stay home and enjoy the good stuff with a few good friends at home. That’ll get you there. Or at least halfway there. But here in “Guate” you can hang out free as the wind, drink great craft beer, warm yourself before a roaring fire, relax to some good music and look up, look up to that view that beer makes possible.
Come. If not tomorrow, yesterday. Get here yesterday, when you can.
Find out more about Cerveceria Catorce through their Facebook Page.