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 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.
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.
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!
It’s the kind of article I LOVE!! Thank you for digging into the beer universe 🙂 – I’m going to live in Medellin next September. I’m excited to try them all. And I would love to share a craft beer.
Also, Did you hear about Apostal Craft beer and Hellriegel Beer Company?
Hi Thomas: thanks for the feedback! We love Apostal beer and it’s readily available in grocery stores here. Hellriegel, from what I could find on the web, is permanently closed. Keep reading and drinking! Cheers! Shelly
Can’t wait to try some of these in a couple months – coming from Salida, CO!
Michelle: you’ll have a great time exploring the beer here and the people are wonderful! Cheers, Shelly
Awesome post! Wish this had been online when I was there last year. I still managed to find some decent craft beer and really enjoyed a night at 3 Cordilleras, though. Might be back in the Spring City later this year so I’ll definitely be checking some of the other places out. Thanks, and salud!
Sasha: I hope you make it back. These places are so great to visit. I had a blast researching the article. Cheers! Shelly
I was there in Medellin last spring and checkout out Tres Cordilleras. Very impressed with the tap room and there was a tour going on when I was there. An unassuming entry door but once inside —Wow. I live in Seattle WA which is brewery heavy so it was nice to see the growth in Colombia.
I hope to get back to Medellin next month. Thanks for posting this! More adventures!
Good for recognizing that BBC is now owned by INBEV. I’m not sure about Medellin, but here in Bogota, they’ve wasted no time cornering the “local” beer market. You can’t walk more than a few blocks without bumping into a BBC bar or Bodega. Also, the fact that Carulla and Exito seem to have no interest in selling beer from the many new breweries popping up in Colombia, makes it hard for the smaller, real Microbrewries to compete and get their products out there. Finding stores with a good, comprehensive local beer selection is still quite difficult here in Colombia, and most of the bars with a large beer selection, waste half of the beer menu on adjunct and Euro Lagers (Heineken, Stella Artois, Warsteiner, Becks, Budweiser, Peroni, etc).
Hi Dan: thanks for the feedback! I agree, it takes a concerted effort to find local craft beer, but it’s so worth it when you do! hope my research sends you in the right direction for a good beer.
Many thanks to Shelly for doing all the footwork for us, although I’m sure it was pure fun for her.
I lived in Medellin for eight years and loved it all (except the traffic)!
I’m back on vacation for a few weeks and will be making the brewhouse rounds.
By the way Shelly, I’m an amateur baker and would love a lesson on baking bread.
If your interested, write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the feedback, Ron!
Great article. But you missed several small breweries, most notably, Madre Monte in Cristo Rey. Some of the best beer in town.
Also – metamorphosis in La Ceja is another great brewery.
Hi Nate: several of the places mentioned in the article serve Madre Monte, and I agree, it’s a great beer! The actual place in Cristo Rey doesn’t have regular hours on their Facebook page and if you don’t know exactly where it is, it’s difficult to find (no sign). As for La Ceja, thanks for letting me know about it! Cheers! Shelly
Tho I’m in Trinidad & Tobago now, I’ve spent the past two winters in Medellin.
Apostal does a special tasting night every Thursday. Includes every ale they brew, with complimentary snacks accompanying each selection. Also a tour (en espanol) of the brew room. All in all it’s a bargain.
Hi Michael: I’ve heard about the Apostal beer tour and would love to visit. Sadly for now, they’re not giving tours. As soon as they begin again (I’m hoping they do!), I’ll be there. Thanks for sharing. Cheers! Shelly
Lets set the record straight. Bogota Beer Company is horrible for international and especially American standards. It may be considered good beer within Colombia but outside Colombia or anywhere in the US BBC would fail miserably because their beer is below mediocre.
Well, Beer Man, I can’t say I agree but we’re all entitled to our opinions. As an avid beer drinker (from Denver, home of the Great American Beer Fest), I think they would do just fine in the U.S. There are plenty more breweries here to choose from so go out and drink some beer. It will make you happier! Cheers! Shelly
No, The Beer Man is right BBC is below mediocre beer and they dont have a very decent bitter ale or any IPA worth it’s weight. Believe it or not BBC used to be much higher quality and better tasting beer when they were just starting out and before INBEV bought them. If you tried BBC back pre 2012 then you know what i am talking about because it was just higher quality and better tasting back then. I also have lived in Denver, Northern California (the epicenter and where craft brewing in the US originated). BBC is very light and cheaply made beer with low quality hops and as little hops are used as possible compared to other breweries. hops are expensive in colombia relatievely speaking because of the transportation and shipping costs and dont grow there and need to import them from Pacific NW US, England and Germany). Why do you think there are no National beers of colombia that are hoppy and why do you think Club Colombia which is considered a premium beer in colombia has artificial preservatives to conserve the flavor because they dont use lots of hops in the beer ie. it is made cheaply and poorly hence why Club Colombia has that real funny preservative taste to it.
Thanks for this article, my husband is a huge craft beer fan and we are spoilt for choice in London. He will love the idea of stopping by to sample and support the local breweries as a treat when we are in the city.
Tanks for the article. I’m from Medellín but live in Los Angeles and you mentioned a couple of places I haven’t tried yet. I’ll have to check them out next time I’m in the city. I think it’s a shame they closed El Cervesario, it was a great spot with good food and an great selection of beer, but it was pretty expensive.
Do you know about The Capital Beer? They’re a service that delivers beer to your door. They carry local and international beers. You can check which beers they have at the moment on their Instagram page.
I am a graduate student at North Carolina State University Poole College of Management currently enrolled in the Jenkins Consulting Practicum. My team is working with a local client who makes craft beer and has an interest in conducting business with a local distributor in Colombia, South America.
We read your article from the Medellín Living from January 2018 and were very interested in your perspective in the quality and breadth of the craft beer market in Colombia. Our team is currently performing a market analysis of the craft beer market in Colombia and would like to ask you a few questions regarding the market, including if there is an interest in U.S. made craft beers.
Please consider taking this short survey regarding your experience with Colombian craft beer market.
On behalf of our client and our team, we appreciate that you took the time to read this any help that you could provide, which could help increase the craft beer market in Colombia.
Survey link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1sYoaQJ2L7muM625vVzrnaVchnhH4VE20QYYEg4m_fRg
NCSU Jenkins Consulting Practicum