10 Best Costa Rica Beer Brands (Try These!)

There’s nothing quite like sipping a cold beer in a foreign country. For many, it’s the perfect way to indulge in the local cultural scene and meet other travellers. With an expanding brewing tradition and new artisan breweries popping up all over the place, Costa Rica is becoming an underrated beer producer in Central America.

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With three well-known domestic beer brands available in almost every supermarket, plus a growing community of microbreweries and local craft beers, Costa Rica is offering beer drinkers an endless variety to try. If you’re up for a cold drink on your travels, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what Costa Rica has to offer.

We’re going to dive into the best Costa Rican beers you need to try on your next trip.

costa rica beer
Costa Rica is becoming an underrated beer producer in Central America.
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Overview of the Costa Rican Beer Scene

The Costa Rican beer scene has long been centred around the main mass-produced lagers. The most popular beer, Imperial, was established back in 1924. However, beer has never really been the preferred alcohol in Costa Rica, with spirits like guaro (made from sugar cane) and rum being more popular at local bars.

However, in recent years, craft beer has burst onto the scene, leading to many microbreweries popping up all over the country. The appreciation of high-quality, artisanal beers has meant that beer is now becoming a popular drink, with many tourist bars and restaurants now offering a combination of both classic beer brands and beer brewed locally.

While the main beer brands like Imperial and Pilsen still dominate the shops and restaurants, locals and tourists alike are starting to seek out other craft beers and local breweries for a more refreshing taste and to support small businesses using local ingredients.

Max drinking a glass of craft beer
Max drinking a glass of craft beer

Local Beer Brands: Classic But Basic

The Costa Rica beer industry has been dominated by the main few brands for the past decades. They’re similar to Coors and other brands like that, and can be found in most supermarkets and local restaurants. 

Most of these are pale or dark lagers and pretty affordable; for example, beer prices for a 6-pack of Imperial or Pilsen usually cost around 5500 colones ($11 USD).


Imperial beer is the most popular beer in Costa Rica and is often called the national beer. A Pale Lager with an alcohol volume of 4.6%, it’s a pretty basic beer that suits all taste buds, similar to Coors or Budweiser. You can also find other variations, including Imperial Light (3.5%), Imperial Silver, Ultra, and Non-Alcoholic. 

It’s become a recognizable symbol for tourists and locals alike, with many souvenirs repping the Imperial logo.

Costa Rican Supermarket: Imperial - local Costa Rican beer
Imperial – local Costa Rican beer


Pilsen was the first beer to be introduced in Costa Rica and is the second most popular brand in the country. It has a darker flavour than Imperial with more of a malt tang and is 5.1% strength with a normal variety.


Bavaria is a little lighter than other regular brands on the market, but it comes in three flavours: Bavaria Gold, Bavaria Light, and Bavaria Dark. It was inspired by German lager but is not an overly popular choice for locals and travellers alike. However, the Bavaria Dark variety is considered the tastiest beer of their options, with a strong malt aroma.

The Craft Beer Scene: The Good Stuff

Costa Rican craft beer has been the subject of a local renaissance in recent years. Artisan breweries have been popping up across the country, selling local beers made in small batches and from local ingredients. 

San Jose has been the main hub of these new beer varieties, but you can also find popular breweries in Guanacaste and Puntarenas provinces. Most of these beers can only be tried and bought directly from their brewery, but companies like Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Co. are starting to push into larger markets, making them available in some local bars and liquor stores.

If you’re looking for some unique craft beers to try on your next visit, then here are a few of the best breweries and our favourite craft beers to try.

Volcano Brewing Company

Born on the surf beach in Tamarindo, Guanacaste, Volcano Brewing Company is located inside Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. They started brewing in 2011 with a goal to produce high-quality craft beer for surf camp guests, but this has grown now to include visitors from all over Costa Rica.

They have 45 taps throughout the two onsite restaurants and bars, including the beachfront tasting room, serving their own beers as well as other craft beers. Their signature beer is the Witch’s Rock Pale Ale, a medium-bodied, balanced brew perfect for a post-surf drink, with tropical, floral, and citrus undertones. Plus, they serve delicious food as well at Eat at Joe’s and El Vaquero.

costa rica beer
Photo credits: Volcano Brewing Company/volcanobrewingcompany.com/

Papagayo Brewing

Channelling the beachy vibes of the Pacific coast, Papagayo Brewing Co offers four different beers: a Tropical IPA, Beach Lager, Offshore Ale and Passionfruit Ale. They’re not commonly found at restaurants or supermarkets, but their brewery is in Solarium, about 20 minutes from Liberia, and they also operate The Brew House in Las Catalinas, Danta Beach.

Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar
Manuel Antonio Falafel Bar is serving beers from Papagayo Brewing Co! 

Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Co.

Located just outside of San Jose city center, this long-standing brewery offers one of the most widely available craft beers in Costa Rica. They offer plenty of variety, along with seasonal specials, from a Scottish ale known as Malacrianza to a tropical golden ale called Libertas.

You can either visit their brewery directly, order online, or you can also find some of their craft beers at local bars and independent liquor stores around the country.


Another craft brewery in the San Jose area, this large brand has a wide variety of stouts, IPA’s and barley wine. Treintaycinco’s eye-catching graphics and labelling are all about telling the narrative of beer brewing in Costa Rica, making it a standout for supporting local culture.

Their signature is Maldita Vida (9.8%), which has a really nice dark fruity undertone, or you can try Tumba Calzones (Hibiscus fruit beer 5%), Pelona (India pale ale 6%) and Majadera (pale ale 5%).

costa rica beer
Treintaycinco beer. Photo credits: Treintaycinco/treintaycinco.com/

Lake Arenal Brewery

On the stunning banks of Lake Arenal is Lake Arenal Brewery, one of the country’s first microbreweries. You can try their house beers made with the local mineral-rich water, imported German malted grains, American hops, and French yeast. Highlights include their Paradise Pale Ale and the IPA. 

We also love that they’re Costa Rica’s first eco brewery, powered 100% by solar and bio-diesel. They not only have a brewery onsite, but they also have a hotel so you can stay the night and wake up to amazing views of the lake. It’s located in Tilaran, which is a nice stop between Guanacaste and La Fortuna.

Lake Arenal Brewery
Photo credits: Lake Arenal Brewery/lakearenalhotel.com/pub-restaurant/

Monteverde Brewing Company

Monteverde Brewing Co. is a small microbrewery producing different varieties of beers brewed from the local waters of the Monteverde region. They sell their tasty beers to some local distributors, as well as through their own Brewhouse. 

They specialize in different ales, including red ale, American pale ale, golden ale, and India pale ale. The brewery and brewpub can be found surrounded by lush mountains in Monteverde. 

Why We Love Craft Beers

While tasting the national beer of a country is often a right of passage for many travelers, we much prefer indulging our taste buds in different local craft beers. With more refined flavours and different varieties to choose from, craft beers also offer an insight into the local culture. The labels can tell a story and the ingredients are often inspired by the surrounding environment. 

We also love supporting local breweries in Costa Rica, especially because they’re usually small businesses that have fine-tuned their craft and only make small batches of high-quality products. It’s a great way to support local businesses with many small-scale breweries also operating more sustainably than larger companies.

costa rica beer
Craft beers also offer an insight into the local culture.

Where to Find Craft Beer

The increased appreciation for craft beer has meant that it’s much easier to find in Costa Rica than it used to be. Big grocery stores like Automercado or Masxmenos usually stock a decent selection of local craft beers in their liquor store section. While the smaller convenience stores tend to only carry Costa Rican national beers rather than all the craft beer options.

If you want to taste good beer from the source, then we highly recommend planning to visit some craft breweries as many of them offer tastings, craft beer on tap, plus a restaurant on site. The craft breweries we mentioned above are great places to start if you want to explore the craft beer scene in Costa Rica.

Some tourist-oriented restaurants are also starting to stock craft beers at their bar, especially in beach towns like Tamarindo. You’ll also find some restaurants and bars are focusing on offering a wide selection of beers, including the well-known Costa Rica Beer Factory in San Jose, which has become an institution for trying Costa Rica craft beer.

READ NEXT: Best Costa Rican Foods You Have To Try

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