Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How to stay cool near the equator

There's a one-word answer: Beer. Well, more accurately, cold lager.

In Panama, you have approximately four local options.

Balboa. Like all the beer we had there, it's best when ice cold. But it still has a nice lager flavor to it; not hoppy and fairly dry. We also were told it was the bourgeoisie beer among Panamanians. Which brings us to the U.S. beer comparison: Sam Adams. Like Balboa, Sam Adams is considered to be slightly above other mass-produced beers. And Like Balboa (the person), Sam Adams (the person) was partially responsible for the founding of a country. So there you go.

Next, Cerveza Panama. This is a tough one. It's just an everyday working-class lager, best when served extremely cold, pedestrian when it's room temperature. Rolling Rock has been suggested as an American analog, or maybe Michelob. It's a blue-collar beer for blue-collar Panamanians, which is pretty much everyone.

Atlas. Bleh. It tastes like... nothing. Water with a coppery smell. As one discerning taster put it, "it's like drinking a penny!" I wouldn't go that far, but it's certainly not like drinking anything good. And like its American counterpart, Budweiser, it's ubiquitous--available everywhere and on billboards wherever you look. My advice would be to buy water instead. It's cheaper.

And finally, Soberana. Other than the obvious hilarity of naming a beer after a teetotaling chick, it's not bad. It's cheap, probably the cheapest of the four. It's definitely better than Atlas, and has a little bit of added value for it. So I think we can draw a nice parallel between Ms. Ana and PBR/Old Style. A decent, cold beer with the added value (and street cred) of being cheap as hell.

There you have it. A guide to Panamanian beer. Although, looking back, I could have shortened this to one sentence: Drink Balboa, avoid Atlas. Cheers!

1 comment:

bobby love said...

Welcome back G! Let's toast your return with some good ole' 'Merican spirts...By which I mean european ales and lagers