Surviving Costa Rica – Chapter MDXVI – Beer!
Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. – Benjamin Franklin
He was a wise man who invented beer.– Plato
I’ve never had a drink in my life. – Donald Trump
One of the first things they tell you at Columnist College is “write about what you know”. As I began pondering on what to write this month, and contemplating the rule of thumb from above, it came to me in a flash. “BEER”! Just to get me in the right frame of mind I have just consumed a six pack of fancy imported Old Milwaukee. It is now 8:29 AM.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I was a lush at the age of four, but I distinctly recall the taste of beer, which my father went ahead and gave me a taste of upon request. It was very sharp and metallic tasting to my unaccustomed taste buds, and was discouraging enough to keep me sober for the next fourteen years or so.
I can’t say exactly when I became a beer enthusiast, probably about the same time I became unchaste, but needless to say it was a long time ago, and I have become and remained an enthusiastic fan of ale, brew, stout, suds, cerveza etc. etc.
Beer first showed up on the world stage along with the written word and the wheel close to 5000 years ago when it was first mentioned in a Sumerian text.
Well of course by that time beer had already been around China for 2000 years, but ancient beer scholars aren’t really sure how good it was.
By the time the Pharaohs were employing their entire nation to build pyramids, they made sure that each slave…. err, citizen received five liters of barley beer for both nutritional and recreational needs, and even the Romans, who were better known as serious winos, came up with the root word “cerevisia” from which all future beers would be known, at least in Spanish.
Which brings us to here in Costa Rica. Beer in Costa Rica
One of the first decisions that the experienced and serious beer drinkers must decide upon is whether you drink an “Imperial” or a “Pilsen”.
Now there are doubters out there that think that it’s the same beer in two different bottles, and after all there’s only one beer company here anyway, the Florida Ice and Farm Company, so what do they have to lose?
Those of us who are Pilsen drinkers, and I must stress that I fall into this category, know that there is a vast difference in how the two beers taste. Just don’t ask me to describe them.
It has more to do with a “mind set”. Although I do have a passing familiarity with Imperial, also known as a “Pollo Negro” for the fierce black chicken on its label, you see a lot of real live surfers and cowboys in this neck of Costa Rica drinking the stuff, and there are probably more of them than there are of us.
But the fact of the matter is that we Pilsen drinkers, (also referred to as a “Rubia”, because of all the beautiful blonde Costa Ricans featured in the yearly Pilsen calendar), ARE JUST PLAIN COOLER!
It was the same way back in Texas when you either drank Budweiser or Miller Lite, although there still is a beer call Lone Star that was sort of the state’s official beer until it was sold to the Heileman Brewing Company of Wisconsin and kind of lost its luster.
Back in my Texas days I defied convention by enthusiastically imbibing Busch beer, Budweiser’s second-tier product named after the company’s founder and recent Super Bowl subject Augustus Busch.
Oddly enough back in my earlier hippy-dippy days I ran into Augustus Busch IV who was similarly inclined. He had a fabulously tricked out VW van and all the Budweiser beer you might need. It turned out he and I had the same birthday and…… he was a triple Taurus!
But I digress.
We beer drinkers here in the greater Tamarindo Cosmopolitan Area are lucky to have Auto Mercado if for no other reason that they have a fabulous beer selection. I was recently surprised when I found none other than my old friend Busch Beer stocked in the beer cooler. For old time’s sake I bought a couple but I didn’t let it interfere with buying our usual brand these days: Orangeboom 8.5, a pretty stout offering from Holland, not to be confused with their stronger models 12 (percent alcohol), 14 or the 16 also known as “psychedelic beer”.
Writing this column has made me thirstier.