Time & Beer


We had some time to kill while we were waiting to sail the Carribean … the national beers were cheap and colourful, so we decided to have a sampling.

Panama has two big breweries each offering two products. The largest, holding most of the market share is Cerveceria Nacional which is actually owned by a Colombian company Grupo Bavaria which is a subsidiary of international beer giant SABMiller. SABMiller almost had the smaller brewery Cervacerias Baru too but the deal was blocked when they couldn’t show that the cost savings made from the transaction would be transferred on to the consumer, Cervacerias Baru has since been taken over by Heineken International.

To keep things fair and to remain impervious to whatever branding we had been exposed to we decided to have a blind tasting. Our only consensus was that the bottled beer tasted better.


ATLAS - from Cervaceria National
Ringing in at 3.8 % this lighter, flowery larger mainly drew comments concerning its lack of flavour. Atlas has a slightly sweeter taste that doesn’t last long, good fizz levels, not bad on a hot day after cutting the grass.

BEST COMMENT: Tastes a little like makeup.


BALBOA - from Cervaceria National
A fairly solid 4.8 % Balboa is the darkest of a light lot, not much scent but a little more depth. Pours well and pretty easy to drink – an all round contender but not very distinguished, good for a laugh.

BEST COMMENT: Fat bottomed beers you make the rocking world go round


PANAMA – from Cervacerias Baru
Surprisingly tasty and at 4.8 % not a complete lightweight but a little brackish on the backend. Makes up for its lack of depth with an evasive effervescence. Panama is that British friend who’s loyal but a bit of a prat.


SOBERANA - from Cervacerias Baru
A yeasty 3.8 % Soberana wasn’t our favourite. A pale, weak brew that needs a little more time mature.

BEST COMMENT: Ragwater and yeast burps

All said, the Panamanian beers leave a little to be desired but at around 40 cents each who´s complaining?

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  1. Austin’s avatar

    Now, this is the kind of reporting I can get into. :)
    Have you guys been able to get anything local on tap? If so, is it any better?

  2. Shreesh Taskar’s avatar

    Your article sums up the beer situation in most of Central America: deplorable! In my experience you won’t get good beer until you reach the German region of Chile. Cusquena in Peru is passable, but ultimately unsatisfying.

  3. kels’s avatar

    Beers on tap haven’t really presented themselves so we have not tried any, in fact I am not even sure if them have them. The options tend to be bottle, can or straight rum.

  4. kels’s avatar

    Thanks for the tip, Tom will be glad to hear that! I myself am awaiting all the wine that there is to be had in Chile and Argentina…any recommendations?

  5. Samantha’s avatar

    “Tastes a little like makeup.” <—hahahaha vommmm!

  6. Shreesh Taskar’s avatar

    The wines of Chile and Argentina is a subject on which both Neena & I can converse for hours! Overall Chile has very high quality wine at very low prices – look for reds from Colchagua, Maule, and Aconcagua valleys. Casablanca is producing very good Chardonnay and Pinot.

    In Argentina you end up paying more for good quality wines. The Salta region produces excellent reds and whites. Look for wines from San Pedro de Yacochuya – their Torrontes is one of the best wines I have tasted in South America. Colome is another excellent producer with aromatic wines. Others to look for are Humanao, Finca Las Nubes, and a small cooperative called Trasoles.

    Mendoza is a bit overrated IMHO, but Escorihuela Gascon and Chateaux Vieux (Produced by Bodega Lopez) are excellent. El Porillo makes a cheap but good Chardonnay.

    Hope that helps!

  7. Kait’s avatar

    Tastes Skanky—yummmmmmmmmmmmm!