Craft Beer in Costa Rica: Where to Drink the Best Beer at the Source
In a country once completely dominated by the typical industrial players—where beer meant an Imperial or Pilsen—things have changed. For the past few years craft beer has been growing in popularity and it’s not only imports that are popping up at bars around the country.
The Costa Rican craft beer scene has really blossomed, with both locals and expats crafting both traditional and innovative brews that pay homage to the country’s natural wonders by using its crystal-clear waters and local ingredients. It’s an exciting time to be a beer lover, so check out our favorite taprooms and brew pubs to get a true taste Costa Rica.
The craft beer mecca of Costa Rica, it’s an essential destination for anyone who wants to explore the scene. San Jose has loads of breweries and brewpubs to choose from, and unlike other parts of the country, many breweries here are run by native Costa Ricans, so it’s the ultimate place to check out the local take on craft beer.
If you’re eager to get drinking straight out of the gate (the airport, that is), your first stop should be nearby Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Co. Opened in 2010, it’s become one of the most famous craft breweries in the country, and for good reason. They have a solid selection of mainstay beers (our favorite is the spicy and hoppy Segua Red Ale), as well as seasonal brews like a maracuya pale ale or an oatmeal stout. From their taproom, you can even look through the windows into the massive brewery area.
Another must-visit in San Jose is Wilk Craft Beer. This brewpub has a huge number of taps, both of their own brews as well as other local and imported craft beers. Their homebrews are fantastic, though sometimes unavailable because of high demand, and the restaurant’s spacious, homey atmosphere makes it tempting to spend the whole day here going through their entire beer list.
Not too far from Wilk is Stiefel Pub, named after the famous German beer glasses shaped like a boot. Uphold tradition and drink a German-inspired house beer from one, or go for one of their many other draft or bottled craft beers from both Costa Rica and abroad. One thing that sets Stiefel Pub apart is that they serve up local Costa Rican food in addition to normal pub classics, so you can wash down your casado with a black IPA.
Just a mile away from Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Co. is also Treintaycinco Fábrica de Cervezas S.A. Instead of a stylish tropical terrace, here their spacious taproom is smack in the middle of the brewery, so you can drink surrounded by bags of grain and fermentation tanks. Their beers run the gamut from a crisp Bohemian pilsner to a rich coffee stout, and they also serve many beers from other local craft breweries as well.
With so many expats setting down roots in Costa Rica with a house or villa on the Nicoya Penninsula, it was only a matter of time before they brought the art of craft brewing here as well. While the breweries here aren’t packed together tightly like in the capital, all are worth the field trip. Here are a few of our favorites:
The first craft brewery in Tamarindo, Volcano Brewing Company was started in 2011 by the guys at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. They have a great open-air taproom on the beach with large windows looking into the brewery, so you can see where the action takes place while taste-testing their three house beers—a citrusy pale ale, warm and malty southern brown ale, and their powerful Volcano IPA. All are worthy thirst-quenchers after an afternoon of sand and salty waves.
Inland in Libera there’s the slickly-designed Numu Brewing Company. They produce three solid mainstay beers—a kölsch, a saison, and an IPA—that all taste as great as they look and are available in cans to take home. Their brewery taproom often showcases experimental and seasonal brews, and if their location right across from the airport doesn’t do it for you, they’ve also opened a beer garden in the center of town at the Liberia Social Club.
Back at the seaside, Cerveceria Independiente is located just a few minutes away from beautiful Playa Potrero. They produce a rotation of seasonal beers along with their easy-drinking wheat, powerful IPA, and even stronger stout. The brewery now has an excellent shady beer garden they share with several pop-up food vendors, and for those who want to take their beer and run, they even offer growler fills to go.
On the southern edge of the Gulf of Nicoya is Puddlefish Brewery, a fun brewpub renowned for their buzzing atmosphere, live music, and of course great craft beer. They create a number of brews that span a variety of styles, from Bikini Bingo Blonde to Lights out Chocolate Coffee Stout, all of which can be imbibed in AC-cooled comfort within view of their towering brewing equipment or out on their streetside terrace.
The title of coolest-looking brewhouse in Costa Rica would probably go to Fuego Brew Co. and their funky multi-level brewpub made of wood and bamboo. They brew a large number of highly-drinkable beers, but our favorite is the fruity and refreshing Guanabana hefeweizen. The brewery is not far from the Nauyaca Waterfalls, making it the perfect place to soak up the atmosphere and recuperate after a day of hiking.
Puerto Viejo’s Bri Bri Springs Brewery is one of the rare Costa Rican breweries on the Caribbean side. Located at Kaya's Place Hotel, their excellent beers are served in the hotel restaurant overlooking the Playa Negra. They use locally-sourced fair trade ingredients to create Caribbean-inspired beers, like a porter with cacao and roasted coconut, and a wheat beer infused with seasonal local fruits. They also endeavor to produce their beer sustainably through methods like feeding spent grain to the animals on their farm, which in turn produce methane to power their beer production. Brewery tours are held at 4:20pm every day!
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We had so much fun at Buena Vista. Thanks for arranging that with Memo.
I also want to say many thanks for all that you have done. We have enjoyed Costa Rica and I have found you so helpful with everything and a pleasure to deal with that it was a very stress free vacation. When I do come back here hopefully you will still be doing what what you do.
Our last couple of days will be spent enjoying the sunshine and eating at great restaurants. Sincerely,
While my computer is still running here, I'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for your help during our stay.
When we first came to your office, we were in dire straights and in desperate need of assistance. Andrea was extremely compassionate, spoke with candor, and had a "can do attitude" that was of immense help.
In addition, Andrea has put us in contact with Steve, with whom we are working, preparing to view a little property that might be just what we are looking for at this particular time.
In addition, having gotten to know Andrea personally as well as professionally has been our great pleasure. I wanted to let you know what a tremendous asset she is to your company. She is a great treasure -- a one in a million.
Laurel and Tony,
The both of you were fantastic with us throughout the property search and purchase process. As we had mentioned, two other attempts to find thorough, attentive, responsive agents to work with in Tamarindo were failures. I expect that we are more work to deal with than many others as we asked a lot of thorough and analytical questions and expected responses to all of them. You two never failed to deliver. The organization and execution of our condo shopping trip in January was excellent and the fact that you two devoted 2 full days to us, around our schedule, to get this deal done was key to our success. The selection of properties that Laurel planned out, including a few places above and below our target zone helped us to refine our interests. We truly appreciated your interest in our success. This could easily have been very stressful for us, and yet, it wasn’t. Thank you very much.
As a side note, when we walked into the Coldwell Banker office randomly with no appointment in November had we not found your office staff patient and accommodating from the start we would have simply walked on to the next agency. Your staff deserves special mention for getting us interested in the agency to begin with.
We will give you some advance notice before we make our first trip down so that we can plan to get together for lunch or dinner. We are tentatively planning on somewhere in the last 2 weeks of May, as soon as our son gets out of school for the summer.
We are- UNHAPPILY- home safe. Would much rather be back in Tamarindo. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING you did to make our stay a joy ! We look very much forward to seeing you on our next trip to Costa Rica. PURA VIDA !