Brewery: Cerveceria Centro Americana, Guatemala City, Guatemala
|Never heard of it. Also: Famous since 1896? So, did you start making it in 1896? Or did you start making it in 1880, but it took 16 years for it to become famous? C'mon people, let's be clear here!|
Long is the list of establishments serving mediocre food advertised as “famous” or, even more braggadocious, “world famous.” You’re not world famous just because some guy from Russia came to Texas on business and enjoyed your barbecue enough to tell his friends back home about it. Brad Pitt is world famous. Your meat isn’t.
|A map of corn production. Iowa is really getting it done here, but maize is native to Guatemala, still grows there, and has found a way into this beer. With negative results.|
And yet, the Crap National Lager of Guatemala, Famosa—meaning famous—has fallen prey to this silly way of thinking. I can’t say I blame the marketers here: lots of Crap National Lagers from this part of the world aim to convey an air of superiority with lofty-sounding names. Hispaniola is home to Haiti’s Prestige and the Dominican Republic’s Presidente; Puerto Rico produces Medalla (medal); Costa Rica is home to Imperial; and neighboring Mexico bestows us with Corona (crown), which really is famous (it’s the top-selling imported beer in the USA and is exported to 170 countries), though not because it’s good.
|What's wrong with Gallo?|
Tell me: have you ever heard of Famosa Lager? No? I hadn’t either. My good friend Will, who lived in Guatemala for a while, also hadn’t heard of it, because the stuff is called Gallo (rooster) in Guatemala, but Famosa when it is exported. Why the switcheroo? Your guess is as good as mine. Did they think us gringos would mispronounce the name? Who knows. I think naming a beer after a rooster is dignified, but the folks down in Guatemala apparently disagree.
|I'm the cock of the walk, but I can't have a beer named after me?|
As one might expect, this beer should probably stay obscure rather than gain the fame its name implies it deserves. Corn grows much better than barley in the warmer, wetter climate of Mesoamerica (the Mayans were fond of it, after all), so Famosa is loaded with corn and light on barley, which is much tastier in beer. The result is a dry, flat flavor and watery texture. Another country checked off the list, but little pleasure gained other than killing a few brain cells and cracking a few jokes at its expense. And in listening to this: