For the next three hours, visitors are treated to a comprehensive beer tasting, consisting of Apóstol’s five standard beers, plus two seasonal varieties.
Each beer is carefully presented, its characteristics fully explained, from the color and taste, to the proper glassware to use, as well as how to pour it.
Finally, everyone is given a sample to try it for themselves, and they’re more than generous when it comes to serving sizes. I’d estimate at least a six-ounce pour per beer, which is enough to ensure everyone gets a good buzz by the end of the night.
But the tasting doesn’t stop with the beer alone. There are food pairings in the same way cheese is paired with wine. Fruity seasonal beers are paired with strawberries, while the stronger, darker beers are paired with sliced sausage.
Throw in a brewery tour and the whole experience makes for one of Medellin’s best nights out.
It was only recently that I learned about the Apóstol tours from my friend Bob.
Together with friends Karen and Eric, as well as Ryan, we made plans to check it out on the last Thursday in October.
I arrived fifteen minutes late, the result of taking a taxi which immediately got stuck in rush hour traffic, only to later have trouble finding the address.
[Note: I recommend taking the metro. The brewery is a short, well-lit, two block walk from the Sabaneta metro station.]
Karen and Eric were already inside, sampling the second beer of the night.
I was quickly served the first beer, a seasonal brew called Tropical, which had a yellow color and strong maracuya flavor, along with hints of pineapple and mango. I usually avoid fruity beers because they can be overly sweet, but this one agreed with me. It was served with a small sandwich on white bread.
The second beer was called Frutos Rojos (red fruits) and tasted of blackberries, strawberries, and grapes. It has a reddish color, and was served with fresh strawberries to help bring out the flavors. Between the two, I preferred the Tropical.
By this point, Ryan had joined us two, and we took a break from the beer tasting to go on the brewery tour.
I haven’t been on a lot of microbrewery tours, but Karen and Eric have been to many, both in the United States and Central America.
They said the equipment Apóstol is using is top of the line, which is uncommon for new microbreweries, as they often start off with limited funding, and thus rely on the purchase of cheaper, second-hand equipment.
During the tour, we learned Apóstol imports 100% of its malts from Germany. The only ingredient sourced locally is the water (and the fruit pulp used in the seasonal beers).
The tour lasted 30-45 minutes, and was in Spanish, along with the beer tasting. English tours are available for private groups of 20 or more people.
Back at the bar, our next beer was a lager called Tipo Helles. It was served along with some bread sticks, and was what I’d consider a neutral beer, both in terms of color and taste.
It’s hard not to like it, but it wasn’t my favorite either.
Beer number four was Tipo Weizen, an ale which turned out to be surprisingly sweet.
In fact, it was my least favorite of the seven beers we tried that night.
Seeing as how it was October, and the brewery was celebrating Oktoberfest, it was especially fitting for us to taste their amber-colored Tipo Märzen.
With 5.3% alcohol by volume, it’s their third strongest beer, and quite a step up from the typical 3% you get with Colombia’s national beers like Pilsen.
Tipo Märzen was my favorite beer of the night, and the one I’d also be the most likely to purchase at the supermarket.
By this point, we were being served a different kind of sausage with each beer.
Interestingly, the sausages started out mild, and grew more flavorful as we progressed to the darker beers.
I’d skipped dinner, so all this finger food was a welcome surprise.
Our sixth beer was Tipo Bock, a lager in the style of Einbeck in northern Germany. It features a dark black color, creamy head, the smell of caramel, and a taste of chocolate.
I’d tasted their Bock for the first time earlier this year, during a weekend trip to Guatape with my other friend Ryan. I wasn’t an instant fan, but after trying it again on draft at the brewery, it started to grow on me.
At 6% alcohol, it’s double the strength of the national beers.
The seventh and final beer of the night was Tipo Dubbel, the strongest beer at 6.3% alcohol. It was a Belgian-style ale with a brown coloration.
It was clear to us that the focus of the beer tasting wasn’t just to get customers buzzed, but to educate them on the varieties of beer being brewed by Apóstol. This was as good a beer tasting and tour as one could ask for and to have it here in Medellin was an unexpected surprise.
My first and only previous experience with a microbrewery in Medellin was the Thursday night happy hours at 3 Cordilleras.
I’d been several times in 2009, before the Apóstol brand had even been born. It was a mostly young crowd, and while the cost of admission included free beers, there were no presentations, no education aside from the optional brewery tour.
What struck me at Apóstol was the demographic of the visitors. It was an older crowd, more working professionals versus the university students you’ll see at 3 Cordilleras. It wasn’t a free for all, but a carefully choreographed beer tasting. I appreciate both approaches, but for different reasons.
Apóstol’s beer tastings and tours are held every Thursday, from 6:30 to 9:30 PM. The cost of admission is 25,000 pesos ($13), which includes the beer tasting, snacks, and brewery tour.
Everything is in Spanish, but don’t let that stop you. Beer drinking is universal.
I received complimentary admission. Special thanks to Jose Manuel Vanegas and everyone at Apóstol for a great time.