In the News from Panama

Craft Beer Booming in Panama

Panama is embracing the craft beer craze in a big way. New breweries and brew pubs developed by a generation of cerveza artists are elevating the culture in Latin America, a new article points out.

Panama has always loved its beer, Asonta Benetti writes in Vine Pair, a site devoted to drinking culture. “The country consumes the most per person of any Latin American nation and 20th most in the world,” she writes in the article, headlined, “Panama’s Blooming Craft Beer Scene Is Shaking Up an Import-Heavy Market.” 

But Panama’s beer love was primarily focused on its local brands, Balboa, which was founded in 1910, and Panama, with its recognizable green bottles, which started production in 1959 and is currently a subsidiary of Heineken. Foreign brands were all over Panama, but that was it.

“But while [local] and import brands have historically helped quench the country’s thirst, the industry for many years lacked any kind of craft or microbrews,” Benetti writes. But now, “that’s all changing.”

The author tells the story of several entrepreneurs building the craft beer industry in Panama. There are now an estimated 35 breweries in Panama. Micro Brew Fest, an annual event returning this month, is one of the biggest beer festivals in Central America, attracting more than 12,00 people.

“And it’s just beer, no music or anything else,” says Jonathan Pragnell, who co-founded the country’s first craft brewery and bottling plant, Casa Bruja Brewing Co. “It’s a way for people to meet up, drink, and catch up.”

Several breweries have won top regional awards for their creations. But, at this point, the Panama breweries are primarily focusing on taprooms and quality, not exporting, the article notes. 

“For now, Panama City’s craft beer is a hidden treasure you simply have to be there to enjoy,” Benetti writes.

Read the full article here.