Beer: Cerveza Caguama
Brewery: Cervezeria La Constancia, San Salvador, El Salvador
|Una Caguama. This beer got 2.1% skunkier in the time it took me to take this photo.|
Central America is hot. When you’re hot, nothing beats a nice, cold, frosty beer. And typically, when you find yourself in a hot part of the world, that frosty beer is just your run-of-the-mill light lager. That’s fine. I get it.
Cerveza Caguama, from El Salvador, is no exception. Just like Piton , the clear bottle screams at the potential beer drinker: “Look at me! I’m probably boring! But you don’t care because it’s hot out!” Unfortunately, Caguama is not boring. Instead, it is terrible. Corona, also in a clear bottle, has a distinctly and consistently skunky taste to it, which can be attributed to the clear bottle itself: light gets into the beer, a chemical reaction occurs, and it produces a compound that is chemically similar to the stuff that skunks shoot out their butts. I imagine Corona probably tastes tolerable if you drink it straight from the brewery. My Caguama, on the other hand, probably tasted pretty bad before it went skunky.
|A screen shot from the American version of Caguama web site, which basically just shows you this, and tells you where you can buy the stuff (big chain grocery stores). Apparently it has won awards. Could've fooled me.|
This is too bad, because El Salvador (Spanish for “The Savior”) probably deserves better. Tiny (the size of New Jersey), crowded (but less crowded than New Jersey!), and poor, it has endured decades of military rule and instability, only to somehow find itself rapidly industrializing and improving the lot of many of its citizens in recent years. Still, it’s the type of place that people try to get out of by sneaking into Mexico. In fact, many of the people that the average, white American see that “look Mexican” are probably Salvadorean (or Guatemalan, or Honduran, or Nicaraguan), in many cases having crossed not one but two borders to get here.
|Caguama is the Spanish word for sea turtle. This stuff, from El Salvador, is not to be confused with the Baja California slang for a giant Tecate beer, which they call a caguama.|
And insofar as their beer goes, maybe they do get better. The domestic market is dominated by a cleverly named beverage called Pilsener, also brewed by La Constancia, which might in fact not be terrible. According to La Constancia’s web site(which is entirely in Spanish), Caguama is one of their “export” beers, which if I had to guess is because they want to get rid of it all. So off it went, from Central America to my local Ralph’s, where it sat gleaming under bright fluorescent lights, slowly skunkifying, until someone (me) was brave enough to shell out $5.99 for a six pack. At least by the second one I thought to cram a wedge of lime in the neck, and it wasn’t so bad.
|Once you figure out to put a lime in the Caguama it becomes infinitely more tolerable. That is to say, it becomes at all tolerable.|