There’s no question that craft beer is trendy. Microbreweries have been popping up all over in the past couple of years—there are now over 3,000 breweries in the U.S. and counting. More and more, folks prefer them for great taste and experimental flavors. Central America is more popular for its delicious rum than its diversity of hops, but luckily the microbrewing trend is now catching on in Nicaragua. ¡Salud!
Two companies dominate Nicaragua’s beer industry: Victoria and Toña. Both are very light beers with only slightly different flavors. They’re refreshing when served ice-cold, and are well loved in Nicaragua. Over time, I acquired a taste for these staples. Then came Cerveceria Moropotente.
Moropotente’s brews are only sold on tap in the European style with plenty of foam. (It’s extremely rare to find beer on tap here.)The brewery hit Nicaragua’s beer scene in 2014. Inspired by the wide variety of beer he found while studying in Seattle, young Nicaraguan microbiologist José Marcel Sanchez started Moropotente together with his brother-in-law Eduardo Mendieta in the hope of diversifying the local palate. “We’ve started breaking a lot of taboos in the [Nicaraguan] market,” he said recently in an interview with Nicaraguan news channel 100% Noticias. Moropotente’s brews are only sold on tap in the European style with plenty of foam. (It’s extremely rare to find beer on tap here.) The brewers import malt and hops from a few different European countries.
Moropotente currently brews three delicious craft beers: a stout called Lado Oscuro (a creative combination of flavors including chocolate and coffee), a Blonde Ale called 19 Días, and a Pale Ale called Citrus which incorporates local fruits. And they’ve got a stockpile of recipes just waiting to be rotated into circulation. The brewery, El Negrito, is located in Dolores, a small town near Jinotepe and Diriamba in Carazo (although they have yet to set up tasting facilities on site). Sanchez says Carazo’s high quality water—the principal ingredient of beer—is perfect for making beer.
Try it for yourself at either of two highly recommended restaurants near Jinotepe: Makimaki (De dónde fue la lotería, 1 block south, one block east), a reasonably priced sushi joint in Jinotepe, or Casa del Campo (Km. 61 Carretera Nandaime), a classy restaurant that uses organic vegetables from its on-site organic garden. In Managua, you can find Moropetente’s brews at Layha Bistro (in Altamira, from ProNicaragua, 1 block southeast), Pia Bistro, and Embassy Bar and Lounge (in Zona Hippos). In Granada: at Garden Café, and Oshea’s Irish Pub. In San Juan del Sur: La Carreta (in front of Iguana), and in León: at Ya Voy (50 meters west of Parque La Merced).
A couple of foreigners also brew their own beer in Nicaragua. Visit San Juan del Sur Cervecería (across from the market), run by a trio of guys from the northeastern U.S. and served on-site in their San Juan del Sur bar. Or try German-crafted Erdmann’s, sold in Managua at El Segundo, Ola Verde, and Stop&Go. In Granada, at Espressonista, El Tercer Ojo, Gelateria Italy & Co., and Jicaro Island Ecolodge (in las isletas), in Laguna Apoyo at Apoyo Lodge and The Monkey Hut, and in León at Hotel Azúl.
Beer-lover’s Nica vocab list
- beer – bicha (or cerveza)
- to drink beer – bichar
- hangover – goma
- cheers – salud
- brewery – cervecera or cervecería
- dark – oscura
- light – clara
- malt – malta
- hops – lúpulo
The sixth edition of Moon Nicaragua will be available in November 2015.