Beer in Panama

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 26 September 2006 21:53
My toilet recently broke and I learned embarrassingly first-hand, the bother of planning one's day around his bodily functions. I have never been a fan of using public restrooms in that they have all the privacy and discretion of a CB radio plus I don't have many friends who allow me in their apartments, much less their bathrooms. This toilet dilemma led me to lament over various activities which I would be restricted from, most relevantly, drinking various Panama beers at my apartment. I am of the sincere belief that when you cut open a tropical country, cold beer runs out. Panama has a pretty wide variety of domestic brews to quench your dehydrational needs, among them, the country's four most popular in no specific order:

1. Panama: Personally speaking, it's easy to be a sucker for a good beer label and even easier to fall for a good name. When it comes to the name Panama, how much more original could you get? I guarantee that in rural Ohio, a beer called United States of America would fly off the shelves in no time, and in general, there's no more endearing sense of pride or identity than naming something you consume after your country. See: Polish sausages, French toast, Guinea fowl, Russian dressing and my personal favorite, Turkey. Score: 7 hops out of 10.

2. Balboa: This beer is also brewed by Cerveceria Nacional—the Kellogg's of Panamanian brew—and resembles most light lagers you'll see guzzled down at NASCAR races. Bottles of Balboa have this distressed and tired look to them after having recycled many times through industrial dishwashers—the kind that sucks in large quantities of dirty dishware then spits them out with a miasma of steam and soapy vapor. Balboa is popular at the beaches on those lazy Sunday afternoons, where sandy shack vendors sell frosty bottles for no more than a gumball. It's also available at almost any bar in the city where everyone, from businessmen to hobos, share in its splendor. If you're a beer snob then I'd steer you away from Balboa as well as my personal space, because I might punch you in the shnoz. Score: 7 hops out of 10.

3. Atlas: The name Atlas conjures up images of strong men carrying large heavy things like planets on their back. The beer here though is nothing breathtaking. It's a pretty mild lager more or less identical to Balboa—the only real distinguishable difference, in my opinion, being the label. It's got something like 3.8 percent alcohol, the same as Balboa, and has a pretty strong following in the countryside as well as the city. You may not be aware, but I am pretty strong and have won quite a few significant races. The reason I mention this is not to brag, but just to point it out and to make you aware. Score: 7.5 hops out of 10

4. Soberana: Brewed by the Cerveceria Baru (a brewery owned by Heineken), this beer doesn't have a whole lot going for it, other than its hilarious mascot, if you could call him that, who is best I can describe, albino caveman meets Johnny spring break. He likes girls, beach balls, and of course Soberana beer. Soberana is fun because the bottle holds a little more juice than the regular-sized bottles, if only a few ounces. I've heard guys who say they know what they're talking about with beers comment on this nip: “bitter finish, blond color, aroma of corn” they say, as they swash it around in their mouths as if they're experiencing a '68 Barolo. Come on guys, it ain't rocket science. Score: 5 hops out of 10.

There are a few more obscure Panama beers that are more sophisticated and probably better tasting, but the purpose of this article was not to talk about those. Its purpose was to inform you on the beers that you'll find served everywhere and the differences (if any), so that when you are ready to order your first, you'll have an idea what you're talking about. Beer prices will vary from the city buck-a-bottle bars to the countryside where you can find three and four for a dollar. Good luck and happy boozing.
Last Updated on Monday, 11 August 2008 23:45