Written by Kieran Proctor

Bogota’s Craft Beer Scene: Cheers to Local Brews

Bogotá, Colombia’s vibrant capital, is not just a city of stunning landscapes and rich history. It’s also home to a ...

Bogotá, Colombia’s vibrant capital, is not just a city of stunning landscapes and rich history. It’s also home to a thriving craft beer scene that’s taking the city by storm. If you’re looking for an all you can drink Bogotá experience, the craft beer pubs are your stop.

But before I get into Bogotá’s craft beer pubs, let’s drop a little local knowledge on you. In Bogotá, ‘Pola’ means beer. Ask for a ‘pola del pub‘ and you’re ordering like a local.

Now, we can get into the craft beer pubs and what you need to know about them!

Unraveling Bogotá’s Craft Beer Scene

The last decade has seen a significant shift in Bogotá’s drinking culture. The city has transitioned from a landscape dominated by mass-produced lagers (Aguila, Club Colombia, Poker) to a thriving craft beer metropolis. The craft beer revolution in Bogotá is all about quality over quantity, with local breweries focusing on creating unique and flavorful brews.

Like most big cities, Bogotá is divided into zones, with each neighborhood offering different things. The craft beer revolution has put the Calle 45/Parkway area at the heart of the craft beer scene. This area known as eje cervecero, is a collective of beer aficionados, craft brewers and bar owners who have banded together to create their own craft beer zone.

Craft beer Bogotá
Craft Beer in Bogotá Colombia

The Craft Beer Neighborhood: Calle 45

The bohemian Calle 45, also known as Parkway, is the epicenter of Bogotá’s craft beer revolution. The street is lined with a plethora of real ale bars and pubs, offering a multitude of craft beer options.

The Craft Beer Collective

What makes eje cervecero unique is the sense of community among the brewers. Unlike many other subcultures, the brewers often work together and avoid petty squabbles that could hold back the bar scene.

This collaborative spirit is a significant factor behind the success of the craft beer revolution in Bogotá. Because they don’t favor any particular bar or brewer, they’re ultimately ensuring a diverse and inclusive craft beer scene continues to thrive and grow in Bogotá.

Craft Beer Variety

The craft beer scene in Bogotá offers a variety of brews to satisfy every palate. With everything from highly hopped IPAs to novelty beers featuring ingredients like chili and chia, you’re spoilt for choice. Yet for those of you who aren’t looking for a cocktail disguised as a beer, there are rich, full dark beers available.

My preference however is the huge array of IPAs available. And I would highly recommend you try the chilli beers at least once for a true South American experience – they’re surprisingly refreshing!

The Rise of Craft Breweries In Bogotá

The past several years have seen a significant growth in the craft beer scene in Bogotá. From a few isolated breweries selling their own beer, there are now more places stocking guest beers.

This has not only increased the variety of beers available across Bogotá. But also fostered a sense of community among brewers and beer lovers.

Some of the prominent breweries and pioneers that have contributed to Bogotá’s craft beer revolution are:

  1. Slow Beer: Known for beers named after regions of Colombia.
  2. Barbaros: A hipster bar featuring guest brews and their own house beers.
  3. Rola: Brews their beer only a few meters away from the 45 on Carrera 19.
  4. Manigua: Known for beers named after folkloric figures.
  5. La Fabrica: Bogotá’s only Latvian bar, offering various guest and house beers.
  6. Cervecistas: Makes specialty beers and started the eje cervecero project.
  7. Hops: An American-style bar with a stylish industrial vibe.
  8. Statua Rota: Offers a wide range of beers in a wonderful old house off Parkway.
  9. Pubway: A steampunk-themed bar on Parkway itself.
  10. Van Der: Known for its huge range of local beers.
  11. Caza Pola: Offers Moonshine and Colon beers.
  12. Lubianka: Stocks La Roja, the beer made by ex-guerrillas in Tolima.
  13. Puerto Cervecero: Known for its range of bottles, that sets this place apart from the rest.

Beer Hopping Itineraries In Bogotá

To make the most of your time beer tasting in Bogotá, here are some suggested bar hopping itineraries:

  1. Around the edges: Start at Slow Beer, then head to Puerto Cervecero, Dos Carreras, the BBC and finally Barbaros or Van Der.
  2. Grand houses of Parkway: Start at the Statua Rota, then PubWay and finally Lubianka.
  3. Loaded and Lazy: Start at Rola, then Manigua and finish off at Cervecistas.
  4. Stretch your legs: Start at Puerto Cervecero, then Van Der, Rola, Statua Rota, Lubianka and finish off at Cervecistas or Manigua.
  5. 45 Pure: Start at Cervecistas, then Hops, Fabrica, Manigua and finally Barbaros or Caza Pola.

Depending on where you’re staying in Bogotá and which of the routes above you take, the easiest option for moving to and from venues is with inDrive (it’s better than Uber). Don’t take the TransMilenio late at night, particularly if you’ve had a few beers.

Also, you don’t need to exchange or carry much cash when visiting these bars and you shouldn’t take large amounts of money with you. The bars listed above are cheap to visit and all of them have tap and go payment systems. I just pay my own bar tabs with Wise on my mobile.

Now, a note for the single lads among my readers. There are a lot of universities and a large student population in the area. And bar hopping in eje cervecero is a great way to meet some beer loving Colombian ladies in Bogotá.

Local Tip: Beer and chicken wings (alitas), make for a great date night in Bogotá!

Beer and chicken wings in Bogota Colombia
Spicy chicken wings with my spicy señorita in Bogota

The Future of Craft Beer in Bogotá

The craft beer scene in Bogotá is on the rise, with new places springing up in different parts of the city (such as El Irish). The focus is not just on craft beer, but also on promoting local cuisine. Vegetarian restaurants abound in the area, adding to the unique character of the craft beer scene in Bogotá.

The craft beer revolution in Bogotá is not just about beer (cerveza). It’s also about fostering a sense of community, promoting local businesses and offering a unique drinking and dining experience to both locals and tourists alike.

As the craft beer scene continues to grow, Bogotá is set to become a craft beer haven in South America. Perhaps even overtaking Buenos Aires in Argentina. So, raise your glass to Bogotá’s craft beer revolution and enjoy an all you can drink Bogotá experience!

Colombian Beer Slang: Pola, Polas or Pola Del Pub?

For many Colombians and in particular those from Bogotá, ‘pola’ is a colloquial slang term for beer (cerveza). Instead of using the Spanish word cerveza, a bogotano will more often say ‘pola’.

The term ‘pola’ used to refer to beer is an homage to Policarpa Salavarrieta, a seamstress who spied for the Revolutionary Forces fighting for Colombia’s independence from the Spanish. La Pola was ultimately captured and executed for high treason. She apparently loved beer, so in recognition of her deeds, La Pola’s name became the colloquial term for beer.

In Colombia and more commonly in Bogotá, you will often hear:

  • Pola – Singular reference to one beer
  • Polas – Plural reference to more than one beer
  • Pola del Pub – A reference to a beer of the pub or the houses own specialty beer

So go out and order your beers like a local bogotano. And ask for a ‘pola del pub’ when visiting Bogotá!

Where Can I Get More Information On Bogotá?

If you’re planning to visit Bogotá on your next vacation, or you’re simply interested in Colombia in general, you should read my Bogotá City Guide.

My Bogotá City Guide is updated regularly. And it seeks to answer all of your questions regarding Bogotá and Colombia in one place. Read my Complete Bogotá City Guide.