Beeradise Lost

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As a seasoned world traveler I know that different destinations offer their own plusses and minuses.  When I did my stint in Antarctica I was surprised by how many women bemoaned the loss of their favorite hair stylist or manicurist.  Or the fact that extreme cold makes nails break.  I however missed my guilty pleasure of hitting up Taco Bell after an evening of drinking.  But the plusses were palpable; beautiful vistas, the shock and adrenaline of negative fifty degrees, the camaraderie that comes with being stranded on the edge of the world.  Everyone had something they missed.  Everyone had something that they would miss when they left.  Which brings me to my current predicament, primarily, Beer.

The first time I stepped foot in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica, I felt a liberating exhilaration.  The lazy pace of the people, the cool ocean breeze, the smell of jerked chicken, combined with being able to go topless on the pristine beaches left me feeling like I had finally found my home.  Indeed, I tried to make it my home, spent a year and a half in a tent on the beach until I had to leave due to extensive drug use.  When I arrived home in Medford, Oregon, my father took one look at my 90 pound body with scars and bug bites and for the first time, broke down and cried.  Coke is hell of a drug:  something I will write in a later post.  The plus side is that I seem to have developed an allergy to it, and even the sight of it leaves me nauseous.  That aside, I have developed another addiction that has put a slight dampener on my home town.  Again, Beer.

I fully blame my beloved boyfriend for my current dilemma.  I should have known, I met him in a beer store:  an oddly erudite and well dressed man with a curly handlebar moustache and a boyish smile.  I was a beer punk.  I wanted it cheap and preferably in a can I could crush on my forehead afterwards.  He introduced me to a line of high alcohol content beer, which was a plus for me because why drink if not to get drunk?  I slowly started discovering that I was put off more and more by the prospect of PBR.   When we moved in together in May of last year and the idea of moving to Costa Rica was raised one of the first questions he pressed was "What about beer?"  I was incensed!  How could he pose such a frivolous question when the purpose of life, we had both agreed, was to travel the world!  Beer, shmeer! I wanted to go back to Costa Rica and see it through sober eyes (coke sober, that is).  Now, after a year of him exposing me to the greatest beers in the world, I know what he meant.  Jerk.  If it were not for him I would not be sitting here craving an IPA or Stout, or Rogue's delicious Chipotle Ale.  If it was not for him I could sit with my ignorant bliss on the shore with an Imperial happily in hand.  Now I feel like I am forced to drink piss.  Ahhh, Beer.

We have found some gems, but all at ridiculously high prices.  Lindeman's Framboise is here, along with Duvel, Leffe, and Guiness Export Stout, a really delicious version of the usual we buy in the States.  The lack of taps is disappointing too, as an Imperial from the keg has got to elevate its flavor somewhat.  I haven't figured out the mailing system yet but as soon as I do, I fully expect my friends to send us some Dogfish Head, or even Nikasi, I need my hops!  So while loyal reader may be jealous of our stint in Costa Rica, know at least part of me is jealous of your delicious beer selection.  Enjoy one for me.  Beer.

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The beer situation in the Limón province of Costa Rica is a dire one, as Vera wrote the other day.  I believe the two largest are Heineken and Cerveceria Costa Rica, the latter being a huge state-owned monolith that produces such classic... Read More


Unfortunately, from what I've heard from locals and read in my research, there isn't going to be any way to get beer through customs and down to general delivery here. It seems customs routinely removes everything delicious from incoming packages.

The other problem is that since we don't have residency, we can't get a post office box, and at least in this part of the country there's no door-to-door mail delivery, so that also will stand in our way. I'm afraid we're just going to be without good beer until we make it back to the States!

No! I have a number of friends who have mail boxes, Rondini, Mario, etc. I can easily have it shipped to them. And I guess we just have to hope a non-drinking customs official runs it through.... I think I just solved that problem. I gotta get Mario's addy.

So you know Vera, there is a bit of sweet irony in your words. Not your typical revenge irony but the sort that reveals that the cosmos just may be less dispassionate about us than we, or at least I, often think.

Your beer dilemma is one I myself struggled with in my Pura Vida adventures. Though I was only forced dry for a few weeks (despite my imbibing of plenty of Pilsen, a few Imperials and all the Bavaria Dark I could find), the answer rang out like a Ted Nugent guitar solo in the middle of a harpists ensemble - Costa Rica + Homebrew = sublimity!

It's not a hard formula to work out: half a day of brewing (you're lounging on the deck anyways and this is slowed down to Tico time), a few billion really fungi's, a bucket and a dark spot. Not a whole lot to it. 4-6 weeks later bottle up your joy and become a beer ambassador to all your friends!

But wait, this all started out with irony. It basically boils down to Erik being a modern day Jonah. He was called long ago to brew; surrounded by brewers, owned the needed equipment, was blessed with a pretty decent palate... Instead, he was lazy and ran for the beer store. Hell, he decided to work there! But, he ran and now both of you are deep in the belly of the whale which would most definitely be OK, except you have no good beer. Maybe now he will heed the cosmos, accept the art and wind up bringing truth to the locals?

Then again, he may just say to hell with that and whisk the two of you off to Fresh Market in Santa Ana where they apparently not only have the imports you mentioned but a good collection of North Coast's offerings!

I say import some malt, hops, yeast, bottle caps and a capper and be happy in just a few short weeks. It's what the cosmos wanted in the first place. Besides, with some practice, some newfound friends and a little pura vida, maybe down the road Costa will wind up with a new cerveceria? Handlebar Ale? Gotee Porter? Bowtie Stout? Doublebreasted Wit?

But Kevin, the problem is that there's no easy way to get hops, malt, and yeast down here! Also, you're right. I am lazy. I don't know that I'll ever be a brewer.

Give me a few years, though, sir, and I will certainly give it a shot. I need to be settled and in a place for a good long while before I'll tackle brewing again.

Bowtie stout! I like it. If only we had thought ahead about bringing the homebrew supplies...

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