Its Beaches and Beer in Bocas and Beyond!
Many people will tell you that an ideal way to spend the afternoon at the beach is with a cold refreshing beer. When the sun is hot it is a favorite way to cool down. And Bocas del Toro, Panama has both; beautiful beaches and refreshing brews in spectacular form. About 3 years ago we brought you the story of The Bocas Brewery, which had just opened its doors to the public. And here we are again, with the next chapter in The Brewery’s story, and it is indeed something to be proud of.
Microbrews and craft brews are pretty similar, the names are sometimes used interchangeably with minor differences but they have one thing in common, it is beer produced on a scale much smaller than that of the super large national beer breweries. With smaller amounts of beer to produce it allows the brew masters the creativity to experiment with flavors and types and make signature concoctions to please different crowds. Brewing this kind of beer is not easy. It takes a lot of knowledge and time. It takes months to create the perfect recipe and it includes trial and error before the ultimate beer is made. The perfect conditions and ingredients must be present in order for the brew master to be successful. It is a difficult feat for people in modern places; imagine the extra effort it would take to make something like this happen on a tiny island in a small country in Central America.
Nestled under the almond trees with the back deck open to the Caribbean Sea is Bocas Brewery, the brain child of Wally and Evyn Wild and brew master Peter Wagener. A little over 3 years ago this was the only location of the brewery with the beer literally being made on the premises. But a lot has changed for this Bocas favorite and they have expanded, not only the beer making laboratory but now the Bocas Brewery refreshments are making their way into the restaurants scattered around the tranquil archipelago.
The story is pretty incredible if you think about how remote the islands are from the main land. The Wild’s told me “In March of 2016, we purchased a 3 barrel brewing system which allowed us to go from 20 gallon boils to almost 100 gallons per batch. We purchased 100 kegs, built the whole system, purchased fermenters and some other equipment to help us run more efficiently. We also rented a warehouse space behind the airport for our new brewery.” In this warehouse something magical for craft brew fans has happened. It has produced more beer, more flavors and more creativeness from the Brew Masters.
They serve 6 bars and restaurants in Bocas and are also on tap in Panama City and The Boquete Brewing Company in Boquete. Just hearing about what an adventure it is to get the soon to be famous beer anywhere is enough to make weaker people throw their hands in the air and give up, but not these guys. They are all in, and will do whatever is necessary to stay focused on making great beer from naturally sourced ingredients and getting it to the people who love it.
When I asked them how they incorporate the natural ingredients found on the lush islands they told me how it has made them a bit more scientific in the brewery, “We have started using more local products in our beers. One of our new, most popular beers is the Oooo Maracuda, which is a Maracuya Heffeweizen. We have our Tropical Ale with Pineapple, Mango, and Maracuya (passion fruit). We also just partnered up with Island Cacao to make a Cacao Oatmeal Stout. We are also experimenting with local products like Cascara and Lychee for upcoming beers as well. It’s a fun challenge experimenting with the local goods.”
People are responding well to the new flavors. Responding so well in fact that now the company is traveling to more and more fairs and festivals. In fact, they just finished two major beer festivals in Panama City, the Festival Sensoral that was held the first weekend in February and they are just getting back from the Microbrew fest that was on Feb 17th and 18th. In March, they will be at the Feria de David. They are hoping to attend more festivals every month.
They said that “Craft brew has really taken off in Panama and we are so excited to be representing Bocas in the craft beer world. We were only the 5th Artisanal Brewery in the country when we started three years ago, now there are almost 20.” They love the community in which they have found their dream, and they are grateful to everyone who has helped put The Bocas Brewery on the map. The positive attitude and love of Bocas will ensure that the taps keep flowing!
While enjoying the beauty of the sun, the sea and the sand here in paradise help yourself to one of Bocas’ beach brews and taste a bit of the tropics!