Having just moved to Medellin from Denver, Colorado, home of the Great American Beer Fest and where craft breweries are almost as prevalent as coffee shops, we were really missing craft beer. And so were many of our expat friends. Where could we find something other than what’s offered in the grocery stores? Surely someone is brewing beer in Medellin! You guessed it, it’s here and thriving!
In the U.S., any grocery or liquor store carries countless choices of local craft beer and many craft beers from other states. It may not be as easy as the corner grocery store in Medellin, but, with a little effort and knowing where to go, you can be drinking craft beer that’s every bit as good as the stuff you’ve been missing from wherever you come from!
Those that Brew and Serve
What a great combination: a place that brews its own beer and serves it to the public! What’s a little different here from the U.S. is that the smaller craft breweries that make and serve their own beer also serve other beers brewed in the area – and gladly.
Carrera 44 #25 – 31
Hours: Wed. 5pm-11pm; Thurs. 5pm-12am; Fri./Sat. 5pm-2am; closed Sun., Mon. and Tues.
The idea for Cervecería Libre was germinated from a passion for beer and a home brewing kit. Owners and longtime friends John Restrepo, Andrés Osorio, William Brito and Jaime Arango started brewing beer at home for themselves and friends. It was a hit! Their first beer, Pasión, made with lots of love and a hint of passion fruit, was entered in a local beer festival and won first place for home brewers. They soon outgrew their home space and opened Cervecería Libre four years ago. Even though they now employ a full-time brewer, Juan Daniel Barba, they still brew beer in small batches and with the same level of enthusiasm and passion. In fact, you can still get a pint of their first beer, Pasión, when it’s available. You’ll find anywhere from 3 – 6 house beers on tap as well as other craft beers such as Madre Monte, Aburra Valley, Espiga, Folklor and Prostbier.
Carrera 35 #7-83
Hours: Daily 4pm-12am
Family owned and operated, Brew House was opened two years ago by brothers Jonathan and Erik and dad Oscar Sanchez. Jonathan and Erik started home brewing in 2012 and decided to build their brewing skills in other parts of the world. Erik worked in Edwards, Colorado (near Vail, Colorado), and Jonathan spent six months exploring the beer Mecca of Belgium. They serve their own IPA, stout, blonde and amber as well as a full range of other beers brewed locally and beers from Belgium, Spain, Germany and Russia. To keep up with the demand for their house beer, they’re opening a production facility in Cristo Rey. Until then, Brew House beer can only be enjoyed in Poblado. To accompany your beer, they have a full pub menu including pizza, nachos and chorizos made specially for Brew House and served on artesanal bread.
Carrera 40 #10-47
Hours: Tues./Wed. 4pm-12am; Thurs./Sat. 4pm-2am; closed Sun./Mon.
Mario Hazbun and Laura Mesa opened Cervecería Maestre in October 2017. Mario, a former lawyer, decided he would rather “spread happiness through beer” than spend time in an office. This latest addition to the Medellin craft beer scene is a cozy and comfortable, wifi-equipped space between Calle 10 and Calle 10a. Mario will begin brewing his own house beers in December, but, until then, come in and enjoy craft beer on tap or bottled from Madre Monte, Aburra Valley and Espiga at some of the best prices in town.
20Mission (coming soon)
Calle 16 #43F-66 (Manila neighborhood)
Owners Todd Morrill and Jared Kenna (Jared owns a building on 20th and Mission in San Francisco, hence the name of the brewery) are redesigning a space in Manila that will be the largest presence for craft beer in Medellin. The new space will include an open-kitchen restaurant and enough space for beer festivals or live music. The brewer, William Myers, oversees a state-of-the-art brewing facility next door. Chef Darby Butts will be creating a beer-centric menu with simple, good-quality ingredients. Their collective goal is “creating community spaces with great beer.” We anxiously await the opening!
No Brewing, Just Service
With no less enthusiasm for craft beer, there are a couple of cervecerías that serve local craft and international beers. Beer may not be brewed on the premises, but you’re still in for a great beer-drinking experience.
Editor’s note: El Cervesario is no longer in business
Calle 10B #36 – 30
Hours: Tues. – Thurs. 4:30pm-12am; Fri. 4:30pm-1:30am; Sat. 1:30pm-1:30am; closed Mon. and Tues.
Owner Sebastian Valencia channeled his enthusiasm for craft beer by opening El Cervesario fourteen months ago. The space is colorful and warm and includes an outdoor patio for an oasis-like feel while enjoying a pint of your favorite beer. What’s a little different in this cervecería is you can buy a sampler of 5 artesanal beers for 24,000 COP ($8.26). Served with any beer are El Cervesario’s signature toasted chickpeas with a curry seasoning. They’re so good, customers have begged to buy a bag! The beer menu changes every two to three days due to the nature of small-batch beer, and there is a full menu of food that includes a nice version of fish and chips.
Avenida Bolivariana #35-40
Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 10am-11pm; Fri./Sat. 10am-12am; Sun. 5pm-11pm
Patriarch of the family, Eduardo Costas, born in Uruguay but raised in Venezuela, opened this small but mighty cervecería three years ago. The name was inspired by the sandy beaches in both countries and invokes thoughts of sipping beer while running your toes through warm sand. It’s truly a family-run operation, with nieces and nephews Martha Jimenez, Diana, Yeny Diego, Mauricio Arias and Abdel León all working for the success of Punta Arena. They carry seventeen locally-brewed beers and a dizzying array of international beers. For the beer, ignore the written menu and browse the selection available as it changes almost daily. They also offer a full menu of delicious food in one of the friendliest places around.
The Big Three
These three beer producers may not be microbreweries, but they make quality beer and are worth a visit:
Carrera 34 #7-165
Hours: daily 12:30pm-2am
Locations also in La Strada, Avenida El Poblado, Laureles and Envigado
BBC was originally in Bogota only but has expanded to Medellin, Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena. They were purchased by Ambev, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Inbev, in 2015, and as with most AB brands, have maintained their quality while enjoying the benefits a large company with vast resources brings. The brewpubs offer a wider selection of beer than can be found in the grocery stores, refillable growlers, a beer sampler for purchase and a full menu. The Poblado location offers an open and breezy environment that’s perfect for sampling all their beers.
Calle 10 #36-16
Hours: daily 12pm-12am
With fifty types of beer available, a beer lover just can’t go wrong at Medellin Beer Factory! To accompany your selection, MBF offers the perfect beer foods: wings and ribs. Their vast beer menu includes MBF’s wheat, APA (American Pale Ale), amber ale and sweet stout, and local favorites like Tres Cordilleras, BBC, Club Colombia and Apostol. International selections include Miller, Coors, Budweiser, Grolsch, 1906 and Peroni, just to name a few. Pull up a chair and an umbrella on the deck and people watch in Poblado while sipping a beer.
Calle 30 #44-176
Hours: Thurs. 5:30pm-9pm; Fri. 6:30pm-11pm; closed Sat.-Wed.
Opened in 2008, Tres Cordilleras brews a wheat, APA, amber ale, sweet stout and a rosé that was European inspired with hints of red fruit and citrus. Tours and Tres Cordilleras beers are available Thursdays and Fridays. On Thursdays, a tour and five beers are 23,000 COP ($7.91) with “good” music. Friday’s tour includes five beers and live music for 28,000 COP ($9.63). If these hours don’t fit your schedule, Tres Cordilleras beer is available in grocery stores and other cervecerías, just without the ambiance and “good” music!
To say the research for this article was fun would be a gross understatement. Not only did I get to taste some of the best beer I’ve ever had, but I got to meet genuinely nice people who share a passion about beer and want to share that passion with the community. There’s a famous theme park that claims to be the happiest place on earth, but if you want to spend time with the happiest people on earth, join beer brewers and drinkers. Your outlook on life just may be altered – for the good!