Craft Beer Guide to Panama City, Panama
There are many reasons life may lead you to Panama City, Panama.
Perhaps you’ve been contracted to oversee an expansion of the Panama Canal project. Or maybe you’re attempting to locate two-toed sloths in a dense urban climate. Whatever your reason, it’s not likely you’re visiting Panama City on a craft beer pilgrimage.
The reason for my trip was a border run, a quick jaunt over from Costa Rica to renew our tourist visa. We knew that a big-city vacation would greatly differ from our current life on the rural Pacific coast in Guanacaste. The unexpected upside was finding a plethora of craft beer goodness, all within walking distance of our hotel.
Craft Beer in Panama
If your travels take you to Panama City, these are my favorite spots for grabbing quality local craft beers.
If you can only go to one beer spot in Panama City, make it Biergarten. Its solid tap and bottle list highlights local breweries like Casa Bruja and Quinta Esencia. Do not miss a chance to taste Chivoperro from Casa Bruja on draft. It’s currently my favorite beer in Central America. Read my review of Chivoperro at The Manual.
Biergarten’s outside seating overlooks the swank pool of the Riande Granada hotel. It frequently shows movies on an outdoor screen and is a perfect spot for bringing along kids with a diverse, pub-style menu.
Istmo Brew Pub
Istmo has a small house-brewed draft selection offering four beers: Colón, Coclé, Chiriquí and Veraguas. The beers are all refreshing and welcome after a long day of urban exploring but the real star here is the ambiance. The Morales Avenue location has some serious gritty charm, a low slung retreat nestled in between towering apartment and office buildings.
If I ever open up my own bar, I want it to look as cool as Istmo Brew Pub.
La Rana Dorada
Another brew pub, La Rana Dorada has several locations to choose from. The bar we visited (via Argentina # 20, Local 1) feels like an authentic neighborhood hangout. With soccer on the televisions and small groups huddling around cafe tables, it’s easy to get comfortable quickly. There are even storage lockers for local patrons to store glassware and hold bottles of wine and liquor for their next visit.
There’s limited outside seating but the giant, gorgeous bar is worth going in to ogle over. La Rana Dorada is a great spot to pick up a burger, fries and of course, a beer while in this central part of Panama City. The house-brewed Porter is strongly recommended.
Licorería La Fiesta
If you need to purchase beer to drink at the hotel or gift as souvenirs, Licorería La Fiesta is your place. This bottle shop hosts a decent select of US and international craft beers and is the perfect spot to grab Casa Bruja bottles to go. Beer is typically sold as singles, so be sure to double-check those prices before you get to the counter, even if it’s in a six-pack holder.
If it’s business, necessity or pleasure that brings you to Panama City, know that there’s more to the craft beer scene than the traditional tropical lagers of Panama and Atlas. Venture out and explore these spots to realize that cerveza artesenal is alive and well in the hub of Central America.