Craft beer in Ecuador

Discussion in 'The Rest of the World' started by unlikelyspiderperson, Dec 22, 2017.

  1. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,309) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Just got back from a ten day trip to Ecuador, spent most of the time in Quito, and was traveling with a friend who has been spending long periods of time in the country for the last 6 years. Quito's craft beer scene is decent and he tells me that it is really exploding and you can finally reliably get craft beer that is decent and occasionally legitimately tasty.

    The two best places we tried were ABYSMO brewpub which had, in my opinion, the best overall lineup of beers. Their stout was a proper stout (rare in a country where most dark beers taste like brown or black lagers), their dunkel was downright delicious, and their IPA was by far the best I had down there. Be sure to ask about beers they have on tap that aren't on the menu as we noticed a couple of enticing tap handles that looked like seasonals that we were never told about. (Ecuador as a rule seems to have a really hard time with the concept of the menu, many times we were given food menus that were about 80% erroneous and several places failed to mention that had beers other than Pilsener and Club until we specifically asked). The food looked good too but we didn't eat there. The other spot was Bandidos del Paramo which is a collaboration between Bandidos brewing (one of the more common bottled craft beer companies who make solid brews) and a german style brewer from the coast whose name I can't recall. They tap Bandidos brews as well as the house labeled Paramo brewing beers as well as some Hofbrau beers, they also had some other german imports in bottles and cans. Paramo beers were very good, the Cacao Stout was a really amazing and genuinely Ecuadorian beer just bursting with cacao and coffer bitterness and a slight peppery bite. They also made a delightfully smoothe oatmeal stout. There was a lot more on the board that I didnt get to try but that looked good. The food there is also tasty.

    In the more touristy mariscal foshe district there are a couple of gems worth stopping in at. Cerveceria Cherusker makes decent beers that are super fairly priced. A piquenito glass (12 oz probably) is 2.50 or 2.75 and the atmosphere of their space is great. Right across the street from them there is a place called Indie Beer co that does a little brewing but also taps and has bottles of a bunch of Ecuadorian brewers. It's a great spot to get a taste of everything Ecuador has to offer beer wise.

    Lastly, some bottles to look out for are the Quitena brand. Their stout was probably the single best beer I had on my visit and their IPA was decent as well (best IPA i had until I went to Abysmo, but there's not a lot of competition). And anything brewed by Caran. Caran says they use water from a special aquefer deep in the heart of some volcano and their labeling is pretty swank, their bottles are nice swingtops and their porter was another contender for best brew of the trip.

    There is also an annual festival at a place called Viva Cerveza (a pretty overpriced little bottle shop cafe thing in a fancy part of town) that looks like it would probably be fun if you are around in October. Quito is a great city and hunting around to the beer spots is a decent way to find different night spot districts. My guess is that within the decade Ecuador will be cranking out some world class beers.
  2. jfh

    jfh Devotee (430) Apr 25, 2008 California

    Thanks! will be there in a few days and can hopefully use your intel.
  3. jfh

    jfh Devotee (430) Apr 25, 2008 California

    Just got back. Stayed at Hilton Colon for a couple days (right next to Parque El Ejido). Walked to both Abysmo and Banditos de Paramo. Both worth investigating. Food at Banditos very good, we had a caprese salad that was tasty plus wings and fries. In both spots, a mix of english speaking likely US tourists and natives. Banditos is in an upscale neighborhood with nice looking houses and shops to look at as you walk. Didn't hit any grocery stores or bottle shops, we were headed to Galapagos. Generally speaking bottles of lager available everywhere. At the airport, I bought a Latitude Cero American Pale Ale that was more sweet malty than I would like.
  4. giediprime41

    giediprime41 Initiate (119) Nov 25, 2015 Florida

    If you ever return to Ecuador my favorite place is Shaman artisanal ales in Quito.
    Their vanilla stout (regression) and blackberry ale (elixir) are both very good.
    Plus you can buy bottles of all their beers at a good price.
  5. MorningDew72

    MorningDew72 Initiate (47) Aug 15, 2014 Washington

    This is bringing back some great memories.

    My wife and I were in Ecuador for 3 weeks in 2015 backpacking around the country. I think we tried maybe 3 or 4 "craft" breweries, nothing to write home about then. Quito>coast (Canoa, Puerto Lopez, Ayampe)>Cuenca>Quilotoa Loop>Mindo (via Quito)>Quito.

    We stopped at Bandidos in Quito first day, had a great time. Owners were from Portland Oregon. Also definitely caught a pretty good buzz after 2 pints and altitude, coming from less than 1000 feet. Those beers were my favorites. Had an IPA that actually tasted pretty decent.

    Went to some brewery in the downtown area of Cuenca that had terrible beer, but we had a fun time playing backgammon, cool space.

    Went to Cherusker the 1 night we stayed in gringolandia in Quito. Very underwhelming but the place was packed and it was in a cool building.

    Los 3 Monjes was apparently a Quito brewery but didn't have a tasting room. There was some place in an off the beaten path neighborhood that you could buy their bottles, so we went for the hell of it. It was on the 2nd floor of some ghetto looking shopping center and it took us a few back and forths on the sidewalk trying to figure out where this place was. Finally found it, it was basically a small convenient store. They were really surprised we were asking for the beer lol. Guess they didn't get too many tourists coming in there for the beer. The 2 bottles we had were pretty solid considering we were kind of expecting it to be bad.

    I'll try and upload some old pics when I have the time. Ecuador is such an awesome country.

    We did all our traveling on the cheapest public transit. We took a redeye bus to the coast to start off the trip. It was so nerveracking getting on the late night bus to the main bus center in Quito. We had our bigass backpacks on and almost had the back bus door close on it as it was pulling away. We weren't even sure we were on the right bus, but our compass told us we were going south in the right direction haha.

    I got so sick of Pilsener by the end of the trip...still am reminded by it every time I wear my El Nacional jersey!
    unlikelyspiderperson likes this.
  6. MorningDew72

    MorningDew72 Initiate (47) Aug 15, 2014 Washington

    Here's some pics I found

    The building in the back, and one of those units on the 2nd floor is where we had to go to find 3 monjes. I think we found out about in on Beer Advocate if I recall correctly. I completely forgot about this, but we were hanging out in the park and this bee man came and cut down a large bee hive. Quite a public spectacle, everybody cheered. Fun times!
    unlikelyspiderperson likes this.
  7. whatruDOINdragic

    whatruDOINdragic Initiate (154) Aug 22, 2013 Illinois

    In Guayaquil with the wife’s side of the family for the holidays and planning to go to Odisea tomorrow. I know that the beer scene, to the extent there is one in Ecuador, is bigger in Quito than Guayaquil. Family says there’s been an explosion of breweries here lately, though, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Will report back.
    Redrover likes this.
  8. Gowanusjay

    Gowanusjay Initiate (15) Aug 1, 2018 New York

    Find anything worth checking out? El tap and the beerman shop in Guayaquil get some decent stuff. El tap rotates a few times a week which is nice. Still tough to find much though after being spoiled with all the top notch beer back on the east coast in the states.
    whatruDOINdragic likes this.
  9. whatruDOINdragic

    whatruDOINdragic Initiate (154) Aug 22, 2013 Illinois

    Unfortunately did not make it to Odisea; instead we went to Republica de la Cerveza, which was . . . not good. I don't recall everything we tried but the worst were a DIPA that was either just flat terrible or so old there were no remaining hops, and some form of stout (Russian name indicating a RIS yet super thin with little malt taste). The best were some form of Belgian style they had on tap and Odisea's Kraken from a bottle. I'm no expert but I thought the place might have dirty/old tap lines--nothing we had on tap was good.
    unlikelyspiderperson likes this.
  10. puffdragon

    puffdragon Initiate (10) Feb 14, 2020

    Here's my take. Been here 3 years now, and I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable in beer...

    Really, Abysmo? I've gone there 3 times already (keep trying to give them another chance), and always fail. Every single time I leave there with a super bad stomach ache, and I can taste it in the beer. Idk if the lines are dirty or what is going on, but i've tried and i've tried, because I've met the owner a few times and is super knowledgeable plus he's also head of the brewers association. Maybe it's mental at this point. The food... ordered food twice and did not like it at all. The wings... IDK what that was. The sauce was just awful. Ordered some other stuff, and did not like it at all. Seriously, I want to give this place a chance, but it just never seems to work out. Especially since many of my drinking buddies like it there, so whenever they want to meet up there, I just pass and wait for them at the next stop. It's probably me, but I have spoken to other brewers and beer lovers I meet along the way, and many of us have the same thoughts about this place, so IDK.

    Anyways, their IPA is NOT an IPA. At best, I will classify it as a hoppy pale ale, and nothing more. For anything closely resembling an IPA my first choice would be Pagano Brewing or Valkyria brewing, both make Excellent IPAs (LOVE LOVE LOVE Pagano's NE Hazy IPA - EXCELLENT). Then Bandidos Hop Rey alongside Doggerlander's Jacks IPA. And for something with excellent body, but not over bearing in the Hops, I would drink Ragnarok's Pain Killer (English IPA). But Abysmo would be nowhere near my IPA list, as well as many other popular EC brands. The Abysmo IPA I believe is called the Minotauro (?), and while it's a good beer, it's NOT an IPA.

    As for Cherusker... not bad beer, well made, but definitely NOT my choice. Locals love it because the beer is light flavored, not in the traditional styles, more adapted for the local market (many brewers do this), and caters towards college / young crowd who want to drink liters @ $5 non-stop. I'm pushing 50, and I want to enjoy my beer.
    My issue in this country, when a brewery makes very light flavored beer, is that they are mis-education the consumer. So when someone makes a full bodied stout, or a proper altbier or heck even a lager, the locals think it's too strong or bad. Not realizing their taste buds have been improperly formed for such styles. Lagers here are sweet, and again it's adapted to the local market. IPA's are super weak, nothing resembling an IPA. Pale Ales same thing, English Ales nothing even close (except for Ragnarok).
    Anyways, sorry, I know I know, I'm a beer snob. I'm just saying, if your going to do something, especially craft beer, do it right. If your make a less hoppy IPA, then call it something else, don't stick IPA on the label to sell more.

    Santa Rosa Brewery - They make great beer, although their IPA isn't the same as before. Still good, but less hoppy, and again, I believe they adapted for the locals to consume more. Not enough foreigners to pay the bills yet, so they adapt to their client base, which is understood, but again... call it something else damn it! Love Love their White Ale & Sour beers, and their food is on point as well.

    Antisana Brewery - they just opened up a bar not too long ago. The brewer knows what he's doing and makes incredible beer, but underrated and not as popular. He's just a simple guy who loves making great beer and doesn't really care about the hype. Bar is super simple. It's definitely not about the decor or ambiance here, it's all about the beer! And i'm ok with that.

    Django Brewery - they also just opened up a bar and make great stuff. Try their Milkshake IPA, excellent, but I can only have 1 till the lactose acts up inside me. Place is nicely decorated, small, but super cozy. They have a great comedy night, I always leave in a good mood after and have met interesting people there.

    Shaman beer in Quito... eh. it wasn't bad, just wasn't good enough to keep me coming back. Went there and i could taste contamination in a pale ale they had, told the bartender and he didn't seem to care, acted like it was me. Ordered a stout next, just off flavors, weird after taste, almost like plastic. But the place was packed and people seemed to be enjoying their beers, which is the primary goal, no? Ignore my beer snobby ass.

    Camino de Sol... stay away. I've NEVER had anything good from them. Have tried their beer at their pubs, as well as all the various places which sell it, even the super market, and it's never tasted good, ever. Yet, I see that they keep winning awards, which I don't understand, unless they make beer specifically for these competition, and what they give the public is the crap. This is a super cheap beer, and caters to the locals who just want something to get drunk off of, and will pass as palatable. No thanks. Too old to take chances. In reality, there are sooo many better options. And if your on a budget, then drink Club or Pilsener brands, which are the local national brands.

    Two Barrel Brewery (Cumbaya) - this is outside of the Quito city limits. Good beer, place is nice also, just far for me since I don't drive and have to Uber it here and back. Only went once, and had a decent time. Enjoy their Gose (only one in the country), well made. Owners are super knowledgeable and friendly. Definitely worth checking out if you dont mind the drive and have a need for a proper Gose, which was the reason I went. I don't know what it was, I just was craving one badly.

    Bandidos in the centro historico is a great little pub with great beer. I love coming here. Unfortunately I live way up North by the U.S. Embassy, so getting here is a pain for me, but man, whenever I am close enough I swing on by for a pint or two. Love the IPA, and when I'm feeling for something not as heavy, they now have this excellent Cream Ale. Also enjoy their Saison. Not a fan of their stout, just cause I like mine more hearty. But it's not bad, just not for me. Never had an issue here, always leave happy and usually wind up talking to some expat or tourist every single time. Pizza's are excellent, probably the best I've had in a while (and I'm from Chicago!). The pub also has an interesting history, and it shares the space with a private family church! You will see the church in the back, and it's off limits. But man it's cool. Definitely check them out. Owners are expats and both are super knowledgeable and down to earth. Recently had their Mead and loved it.

    Bandidos del Paramo - this is a partnership with the aforementioned Bandidos and another brewery called Paramo, which is German owned. Paramo makes ok beer. I wouldn't try to sell this in Germany, but for the locals it's fine. Their altbier, although not a traditional altbier, is one of my favorites. Don't really enjoy anything else from them. I am usually hanging out at their pub on Whymper, which lacks decore and ambiance, but Im here for the beer! Plus, because of the Bandidos stuff I enjoy going there for dinner. Food is great, can't go wrong. Traditional pub food.

    Los 3 Monjes - these guys use to have great belgian style beers. They had a belgian strong ale which was excellent, aptly known as the Monja Loca (the crazy monk), super popular in Quito. Then IDK what happened. Went to shit, contamination, flat, nasty, took 1 sip and spit it out. Went to the bar a few months back, saw that it was owned by someone else, when asked what happened to the beer, the lady pretty much cursed me out in what sounded french (unsure, but she was upset I asked her what happened to the good beer), and so I left. That bar is now closed, unsure what happened to them, but I still see their bottles scattered around town. Afraid to try, as I'm thinking it's old stock people got stuck with? Unsure. I hope they come around again, they had some belgian styles that I enjoyed.

    Sinners Brewery - love this space. The decor is super on point. Beers... while they are made well, the styles are much more experimental. They tend to push the boundaries here in Ecuador, which I appreciated, but sometimes I just want a simple IPA and not something infused with Coco-Ginger. Whenever I do come here I usually just have whatever is their simplest style. Usually it's their session stuff, which is always on point. Food needs help, my wife waited close to 45 min for a salad! A salad! My burger was raw, had to send it back twice! Twice! Lesson learned... don't come here for the food, come here for the beer and ambiance. It reminds me of a Starbucks. Super comfy, well lit, very consumer friendly. So this one is the Starbucks of Beer in Ecuador.

    Lastly, all of these places mentioned above are brewery owned and based in Quito. There aren't many places to try other brewery's that don't have their own bar, so I want to give a knob of approval to Viva Cerveza (La Carolina neighborhood) as well as La Arteria (El Inca neighborhood). Both offer varied brands. La Arteria is like a neighborhood college dive bar, lots of young people, trendy events, more experimental brews. I've had some really bad stuff here, but I've also had some excellent stuff as well, and the owner is super cool guy always smiling and in a good mood, which makes you smile and gets you in a good mood. And over at Viva Cerveza, that's more for people who know what they want or don't know what they want and just want a good beer. Owners are expats from NYC I believe, and they know their stuff (Have been to both their beer festivals, and by far the best festivals in the country). Thing about them is that they are honest about what they sell, if they have a beer labeled an IPA, but they don't think it's an IPA, they will tell you right off the bat, which I appreciate. So the final decision is mine, and not the sales person. They could use more options on tap, but the 3-4 lines they have are constantly changing, like daily and it's the best of the best. I've honestly never had a bad beer here. Again, I think it's because they curate their selection and tell you what to expect BEFORE you order. So, you already know what's coming, which I like. Prices are slightly higher by say $1 per pint so it isn't that bad. But they aren't the brewers, so they can't compete with brewery owned bar prices - and that's anywhere (US, Europe, etc). Their thing is offering other brands (they do not brew their own). The space is also located in one of the higher end neighborhoods of Quito, and it's a 2 story house with a front patio, so I can only imagine what they pay for rent there. Bottle selection is on point, especially if there is nothing on tap that interest me, I always find something in bottles that I wind up falling in love with - which is actually where I tried the Pagano Hazy NE IPA, haven't seen it anywhere else - this was one highly recommended by the owner (took a 6 pack home of this stuff!). Fridges are temperature controlled according to styles, which is nice, shows knowledge and respect for the product. Again, always on point, owner seems to have a knack for reading people and what they like. Every time I'm there I see him dealing with clients and he just has this way of figuring out what you like. Like some guru of beer.

    There is one final mention, which is La Reserva. I was following these guys way before I came here, just to get an idea of the craft beer scene, and while I was excited to visit them when I finally arrived, I was (and continue to be) disappointed. They seem to have been one of the original beer bars which started offering other brands, and didn't have their own. So when I arrived at their place by Parque Metropolitano, I was super excited. Unfortunately I think my expectations were too high and it fell short. Every beer I tried was eh. The brands they offered didn't live up to my expectations (better options @ Viva Cerveza or La Arteria). My drinking buddies like going to their 2nd location, which is by 6-December, but every time I have anything on tap it's bad. Like really really bad. I'm pretty sure it's line contamination, cuz that's what it taste like, just a dirty beer line. I've returned more than a few beers here because I just couldn't drink it, stomach starts acting up almost immediately. I do like their house brands (they now make their own beer), which are Hopping cat and Chameleon. But will only drink them from can / bottle. They seem to jack up the price on other brands ($8-9 for a bottle of Sinners beer), and I think they do this to make their own stuff more attractive @ say $4-5. You can find Sinners anywhere for $4-5. Space is nicely decorated, and I've talked with the owner who is very cool. He definitely knows beer, but I just don't think they clean their lines often enough, or well enough. That is also an ongoing issue I see with many local owned pubs, they just don't clean their lines. I've never had such issues with the expat owned places like Bandidos, Cherusker, Paramo, or Viva cerveza. So IDK what it could be. Food is on point (except for the Hummus - don't order), but their burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, etc are super yummy.

    Wow, this was way more than I originally wanted to contribute. Hopefully this is helpful to someone and provides some insight to the current beer scene in Ecuador in 2020. This is entirely based on Quito bars / breweries. Will post one soon about Guayaquil! But for now, stay away from Republica de la Cerveza - perfect example of a place that NEVER cleans their beer lines. Go to Tap Room instead, owner is cool, cozy little spot outside of town, good stuff on tap. Beerman... it was ok. Not my first choice.
    aetherness likes this.
  11. Georgiabeer

    Georgiabeer Poo-Bah (3,924) Jul 5, 2006 Georgia

    "Bandidos in the centro historico is a great little pub with great beer. I love coming here."

    "Los 3 Monjes - these guys use to have great belgian style beers. They had a belgian strong ale which was excellent, aptly known as the Monja Loca (the crazy monk), super popular in Quito. Then IDK what happened. Went to shit, contamination, flat, nasty, took 1 sip and spit it out. "

    Great post! Very informative. I was last in Quito a couple of years ago and stayed in the Centro Historico, so hit up Bandidos a few times and really enjoyed it. We loved Los 3 Monjes when we were there and I'm sad to see it has fallen so low. We were generally surprised how much better the beer was than we had been expecting. Sounds like things are promising. Hopefully the Covid emergency won't damage the scene too much.