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A Brewery Guide to Puerto Rico, the New Craft Beer Capital of the Caribbean

Medalla accustomed be the king of beers in Puerto RICO Act. for many years, if you wanted a neighborhood cold one, there have been few choices besides the ever present (very, terribly light) cerveza.

Today, brewage lovers will get pleasure from a far wider kind of native brews because of AN unexampled boom in craft production. “There has been a growth of breweries on the island,” says Rafael J. Marquez, a craft brewage enthusiast from Hatillo, World Health Organization runs the Instagram account @RoadtoCraftBeer. “And the established ones square measure increasing their distribution and providing additional selection in designs and flavors.”

Zalika Guillory lagoon, businessman of los angeles Taberna Lúpulo — San Juan’s leading craft brewage bar — says she was recently “shocked” once she realised that nineteen out of the bar’s thirty four draft beers were brewed in PR. “When I bought the bar two-and-a-half years agone, I struggled to stay four locals on.”

Both lagoon and Marquez note that the trend is driven by demand. As lagoon points out, “people on the island square measure taking cues from the US craft brewage scene,” that she says is at its saturation. “There is far additional space for growth in Puerto RICO Act. And brewage drinkers here currently desire a kind of brewage designs, that is inflicting island brewers to build up production and experiment additional. As a result, they’re creating higher brewage.”

Echoing a sentiment that we’ve detected from creatives and business-owners round the Caribbean, lagune additionally says that hurricanes Irma and Maria caused a “weird reset” within the production business. “There was AN energy that came from the devastation. Since the hurricanes, there has been a form of entrepreneurial spirit and want to take a position a lot of in what’s occurring within the island,” she says. “I’m finding that my customers — natives and tourists — square measure gravitating toward native brewage and supporting the local economy as an attempt to assist Puerto anti-racketeering law recover.”

Several new breweries have opened within the wake of the cyclone, together with Del Oeste in Mayaguez, on the West Coast, that is impressing locals with its coconut-and-honey scented Bucanera whisky lager. Pura Vida, Puerto Rico’s initial women-owned-and-operated distillery, in Cabo Rojo, is beloved for its honey-brewed Hyggelig amber beer — most so that they square measure ramping up production capability from ten to one,343 gallons per month. the latest brewer on the block, The Aviator’s distillery, simply opened in San Lorenzo within the eastern a part of the island, and is obtaining attention for its fruit Zapote-ton Witbier.

Pura Vida Brewery Puerto Rico

The Beers

We asked Liman, a certified cicerone, and Marquez, who runs craft beer seminars around the island, for their favorite Puerto Rican breweries. Here are their top picks:

Ocean Lab Brewing Co., Isla Verde

One of the most widely distributed craft beers on the island was “born on the beach,” as the owners say, just two years ago. (Ocean Lab, attached to the stylish Vivo Beach Club, fronts the Atlantic Ocean.) This brewery holds the distinction of being the first in Puerto Rico to launch a cask ale, which is real beer-geek beer: unfiltered, lightly carbonated, and re-fermented. A deep, rich flavor comes through in their Boricask, a dry IPA.  “Their line-up tends to be easy drinking with really clean flavors,” Liman says. Ocean Lab is currently producing 13 beers. Hop Diver double IPA is a popular favorite, and they use locally grown coffee beans for the Baraka coffee stout. Try them on a brewery tour, one of the few offered on the island.

Zurc Brauhaus, Coamo

This brewery favors German and Belgian styles. “I love that Juan Carlos, the brewer at Zurc, doesn’t pay attention to beer trends. He just makes what he likes,” Liman says, highlighting his Kolonia kölsch, the first of its kind brewed on the island, as her favorite. Marquez cites La Kabra Maya maibock lager as a winner. Recently, Zurc collaborated with California-based Stone Brewing Co. to release Ráfaga IPL, an India pale lager; it’s the first time an island brewery has partnered with a major mainland brewer.

Boxlab at Del Barril, Aguadilla

Two popular craft brands merged last year to create a powerhouse brewery and one of the best tap rooms on Puerto Rico’s west coast. “They are really expanding and constantly improving their quality,” Liman says. Marquez recommends the Sol Invicto Belgian pale ale; the Cocotero, a milk stout with toasted coconut, is the perfect fairing for a beach breeze.

Rebl, Utuado

Liman is a fan of this brewery’s Cassava IPA, which, for a while, was the only beer they made. Their “radical experimental brewing lab” is now turning heads with its Hogaza beer, crafted with bread from local bakeries. In an effort to reduce food waste, the brewers toast leftover bread and incorporate it into the barley to make what they call “liquid bread.”

Señorial Brewing Co., Ponce

Established in 2013, Ponce’s first brewery produces El Polvorín, a smoked beer that both Liman and Marquez are wild about. “It’s smoky and lovely and it sells like crazy even when it’s hot outside,” Liman says of the hearty pour. Señorial is also known for a sour beer made with quenepas, a tangy local fruit.

Dragon Stone Abbey Brewery, Caguas 

Specializing in experimental Belgian-style ales, Dragon Stone aims to be “as close to an actual Belgian brewery as possible.” Marquez hails the Ghost Sour Project sour ale as a “don’t miss” and their Belgian strong golden ale, La Prémiere, as a favorite.

Boquerón Brewing Co., Cabo Rojo

One of the veteran small-batch breweries on the island, Boquerón brews are notable for their freshness. Crash Boat IPA is a widely-distributed crowd pleaser; Marquez especially likes the Gripiñas Coffee Porter.

La Taberna Lupolo, Puerto Rico

The Bars

The Puerto Rico Beer Guide website has maps of breweries and beer bars. Here are our favorite spots around the island to enjoy local brews:

La Taberna Lúpulo, Old San Juan

This divey-cool Old San Juan beer bar always has 50 beers on tap — and another 150 by bottle or can. It’s a fun stop for beer lovers, whether you’re taking a break from touring the historic cobblestone streets or grabbing a pre-dinner draft.

La Taberna Boricua, Hato Rey

At this business district favorite, the main draws are the lush back garden, live music, and a beer list that’s 300 brews long.

El Tap, San Juan

46 taps flow at this spot on trendy Loiza Street. Beer pairing dinners and “meet the brewer” events are especially popular with locals.

Dylan’s Biergarden, Hatillo

With over 200 beers on offer, there’s truly something for everyone at Dylan’s — and it’s a great spot to watch the soccer match, too.

Al Lado, Arecibo

A new hotspot on the north coast, Al Lado features 20 beers on tap. Hipsters love the “tranquilo” vibe here.

Rincon Beer Co., Rincon

This is where the surfing-and-cerveza set belly up to the bar — or linger the evening away at the sidewalk tables, telling tales of catching tasty waves. Check the chalkboard for popular local offerings (there’s beer brewed right on the premises, too).

Rock & Go, Cabo Rojo

With a selection of over 100 beer styles (bottled, canned, and on draft, with three dozen local offerings), this beer and burger joint has won a solid following. Their playlist is well-loved, too: only the classics.

El Grifo, Caguas

While it’s best known as one of Puerto Rico’s leading plant-based restaurants, the beer list within this bright, Colonial-style building should not be overlooked. Keep an eye out for craft beer specials, like two-for-one “Hoppy Fridays” and “Dark Beer Takeover” nights.

Birriola, Ponce

This cozy wood-paneled spot is worth visiting for its flights and tapas — ropa vieja sliders, fish tacos, bacalao fritters — which are as refreshing as the all-tap beer list. There’s live music on occasion, too.


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