This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Country #39: Costa Rica

Beer: Imperial

Brewery: Cerveceria Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica

ABV: 4.6%

The glass provides a handy translation regarding its contents to the gringo turistas.
Yesterday, us Yanks celebrated our Independence Day. Costa Rica sort-of-kind-of has three independence days: first they said no más to Spain (September 15, 1821), then to Mexico (July 1, 1823), and then they finally split off from the United Provinces of Central America, which apparently was a thing, on March 21, 1847. Many Americans commemorated July 4th by drinking a lot of bad domestic beer. Costa Ricans really only celebrate the first independence day, September 15th, and I have no idea whether they drink a bunch of bad beer to celebrate, but if they do, they’re probably drinking Imperial.

Costa Rican Independence Day celebrations: less beer, more cows.
I have a theory as to why they only celebrate one of their three independence days: for the sake of their health. Imperial is a hyper-drinkable pale lager that, at a measly 4.6% ABV, can be consumed muy rápido. I don’t want to know how spotty my liver would be if we celebrated The Fourth of July three times a year.

It’s curious that the Crap National Lager of Costa Rica should be named Imperial, when the three aforementioned dates represent the nation’s escape from the imperial rule of three separate entities. Funny, too, that the parent company that owns the Imperial brewery and brand, something called Florida Ice & Farm Company, has also started an empire of its own. While it already has a virtual monopoly on beer in Costa Rica (it owns the other big brands in the country too, Bavaria, Pilsen, and Rock Ice), it has made forays into the American market by recently purchasing the Magic Hat Brewing Company in Vermont and the Pyramid Brewing Company in Washington state. Reverse colonialism!

Eagles have long been a symbol of imperial herarldry, as seen here in the flag of Albania, a bottle cap for mediocre beer, and the coat of arms of Austria.
Imperial’s business is also surely helped by the influx of tourists that visit Costa Rica with colons to burn. Approximately 2.2 million foreign visitors knew the way to San Jose in 2011, making Costa Rica one of the most visited countries on earth, pound-for-pound. Most crappy Latin American beers are available in the States largely to serve the immigrant market, but there really isn’t a large Costa Rican community anywhere in the U.S. because, shockingly, Costa Ricans aren’t leaving Costa Rica; in fact, Costa Rica has the happiest population on Earth, according to the people that study these things. So if Imperial is selling in the States, it must be nostalgic tourists who are buying, as well as curious schmucks like me.

Why are so many people going to Costa Rica? Because you can be in both of these places in the same day.