3 Cordilleras was the first microbrewery to break the mold in Medellin. Established in 2008, they’ve continued to expand their distribution, and beer selection for the last five years.
I became a fan of 3 Cordilleras back in 2009, after visiting their brewery for one of their popular beer tastings. Ok, it was more like a giant happy hour, the closest experience I’d found to a US-style happy hour in Medellin at the time.
The deal back then was five beers for 15,000 pesos ($8), which was a no-brainer for everyone, Colombian or foreign.
Last month, when my friends Karen and Eric said they wanted to check it out, I decided to join them. I hadn’t been back to 3 Cordilleras since 2009, and wanted to see what, if anything, had changed about the experience.
The brewery is located in Barrio Industriales, three blocks from the metro station by the same name, and even closer to the Premium Plaza mall.
It was rush hour on Halloween night when I made the 15-minute walk from Ciudad del Rio to 3 Cordilleras.
The staff was wearing “Day of the Dead” make-up for the occasion, and later, many of the consumers in the bar that night would be dressed in costume too.
I arrived well ahead of my friends, but lucked out by meeting one of Medellin Living’s readers at the door. The cost of entry is now 20,000 pesos, and that gets you three beer tickets. The 2009 deal was too good to last, so I wasn’t surprised by the increase.
The brewery facilities are all located on the ground floor. A staircase runs up along the wall to the left, leading to the bar. Everything looked exactly the same.
We made our way up to the bar, and thanks to our early arrival, had no trouble getting our first beer.
Pre-packaged potato chips are an excellent deal at 4,000 pesos ($2). Skip the nacho chips, which come in a much smaller bag for the same price.
More and more people began to filter into the bar, including my friends. One thing I hadn’t done in my previous visits was to go on a tour of the facilities. I didn’t know any Spanish back then, so it would’ve been pointless.
I understood a good deal, but far from everything. One thing I did catch was the initial equipment for the brewery was bought second-hand from Portland, Oregon for just $40,000.
3 Cordilleras started out with three beers, and have since increased their offering to six, including a Rose, which tasted like Colombia’s overly sweet Postobon soda. More to my taste was the Limited Edition 6.47%, their strongest beer.
Other options include Blanca (pale), Mulata (medium), Mestiza (medium), and Negra (dark).
After the tour, we returned to the bar, where a singer and guitarist began performing popular Latin songs. We spent a little more time up there, finishing all three of our beers each, before calling it a night.
In 2009, I had nothing to compare the 3 Cordilleras experience against, as it was the only microbrewery in town. Now that Apostol has begun Thursday night beer tastings and tours, it presents an interesting contrast.
Both brewers’ now open their doors to the public on Thursday nights, but the experiences are very different. I like them both for different reasons.
While Apostol focuses more on education and attracts an older crowd, 3 Cordilleras is like a big party, attracting a younger, college-age crowd, and featuring live music on a regular basis.