Barranquilla, also known as Colombia's golden gate, is recognized as the city with the first railway line in the country, also for having the first olympic stadium in Colombia, and the first commercial aviation company in the american continent. Without taking into account that it was the first city to create, 100 years ago, the second most consumed beer in the nation.
In addition of its growing comercial success, Barranquilla was not only known as the golden gate due to its economic upturn, but also for being an open gateway for immigrants that arrived to this 'land of the free', to share their knowledge and spread their traditions, that will later become our own current customs.
Beer consumption wasn't the exception. Ernesto Cortissoz, a businessman, son of sephardic jews, with strong customs gained from his trips and studies abroad, was an avid consumer of beer that had to import it from Germany because it wasn't a traditional drink in the city. The Gallo Negro (Black Rooster) beer, brought from the old continent, little by little opened itself as a drink that discriminated popular social classes that only few people could afford.
This habit was rapidly spread with such magnitude that in 1905 the Toro Negro (Black Bull) craft beer arrived from Cartagena, a city located in the neighbour state, that was produced by the Bolívar brewery.
But how was it possible that Barranquilla, being the most vibrant city of the country at the time, was being flooded by a beer from its neighbor city? That is how Cortissoz, with other partners, in April of 1913, founded the first craft brewery in Barranquilla (and in the Atlantico state) with a star product that currently has more than a century in the market: Aguila beer.
'When you want to drink good beer, ask for Águila', 'Pass me an Águila, but flying' or its irreplaceable 'Unrivalled and always the same'. These are some of the slogans that made the brand widely known and that have made it part of 230 SABmiller multinational brewing company references.
Águila is known as the second most consumed beer in the country, and although Colombia is not as a part of the countries with more beer consumption per capita -only three beers VS Germany and Czech Republic with six and seven, respectively- craft breweries have had a nation wide success and little by little have gained market to top companies such as SABmiller.
Beer 100% made in Barranquilla
Only in Barranquilla there are six craft breweries with more than 20 references in the market that mention typical elements of our culture. Oveja Negra Brewery, for example, named its first beer 'Cayena', in allusion to the characteristic flower of the Barranquilla's Carnival. A light drink, refreshing, with a spicy taste, perfect for the hot sunny afternoons in Barranquilla.
Similarly, 'Puerto Escondido' brewery baptized its firstborn 'Fulana' in honor to a song of one of the greatest singers of tropical music: 'Joe' Arroyo, born in Cartagena but "barranquillero" by heart.
Also the 'Mermaids' of Hafen - port in German - "A small migrant brewery from a German family that arrived to Barranquilla through the Caribbean Sea to create the love elixir inspired of mermaids", or at least thats what its history says.
Another popular brewery is '315' - that makes reference to a person who is almost drunk - with beers of autochthonous names such as 'La amansa loco' (due to its high level of alcohol), 'Centurión de la noche', a black beer that also honours a Joe's popular song, and other five available references that include season beers with exotic fruits from the Colombian Caribbean such as mango and passion fruit.
They also pay tribute to the city's greatest river affluent with a beer that accepts its same name: Magdalena. A sugarcane refreshing drink version that you can taste while you enjoy a sunset from the Gran Malecon riverwalk, one of the most recent urban projects of the city.
As well as these types of beers, currently there is a rise of new beers that have arrived to local and traveler palates that don't conform with the same market references. They are looking for different proposals with unique elements of this brewer culture capital.