In our series about craft beer breweries in Bogotá, we look at 13 pesos.
When I arrived in Colombia in 2014, there really wasn’t much in the way of craft beer here. There were a couple breweries in their infancy (some of which we’ve covered here), but unless you knew how to find them, there was basically just BBC (while it was still craft beer).
Barranquilla-born Jean Taboada experienced this same anguish upon returning to Colombia after three years in the US. With not much to do in the country, he took up his wife’s suggestion to start his own brewery. Thanks to Jean’s wife, we can all now drink 13 Pesos. There’s a close involvement with the food and drink industry woven all throughout Jean’s family history. He comes from a family of chefs (especially on his mother’s side), and it was his sister who bought him his first homebrew kit for Christmas in 2011. The family beer legacy goes back far further than that though.
Back in the 1910s, Jean’s paternal great-grandfather, Gabriel Antonio Taboada, owned a small rural bank in Corozal, Sucre. One day the quiet town received a strange new visitor – a German, fleeing from the First World War. This mysterious new arrival fancied setting up a brewery and looked for investment from local business owners. Mr Taboada decided to invest a grand sum of 13 pesos. After a period of seeing little bang for their buck and nothing in the way of dividends, the costeño investors grew restless and asked for their money back. The German paid them all out, but managed to keep the brewery open. That brewery is now one of the biggest breweries in Latin America. Gabriel Taboada got his 13 pesos back though.
Jean’s fortunately had much more success in the beer business than his ancestor. While it hasn’t ever been exactly easy for him, 13 Pesos has pretty much always been on an upward trajectory. Eight months after founding it, Jean was able to set up a bar on Calle 82. While most businesses shut up shop because they’re struggling, Jean found himself closing the bar because he was too flat out making and selling beer to bother with a tasting room. 13 Pesos now has a good-sized brewery up in Zipaquirá, where Jean prefers the water, not to mention the price of rent. Right now they’re making around 3,000L of beer a month. Speaking of which, let’s get to the beers…
13 Pesos currently does an IPA, a blonde ale, a stout and, somewhat uncommonly for Colombian craft breweries, a lager. They used to have a wheat beer too, but that’s now been phased out. Right now they also offer two seasonal imperial stouts. I’m going to focus on the IPA here though, as it’s one of the beers I make sure I’m never ever out of at home, and it could also be the best value craft beer in Colombia.
The 13 Pesos IPA is quite a sweet IPA – very low on bitterness for the style, even though the IBUs would suggest otherwise. It’s certainly nothing like a West Coast IPA. Jean’s been working on the recipe for 2-3 years now, and the evolution of the beer is worthy of discussion. For most brewers when they start out and get stuck into making IPAs, there’s nothing more exciting than trying to feature as many exotic and citrusy hops as possible. Jean was no exception and his IPA originally had five types of hops in it, to go with four different barley varieties. He’s now arrived at a ‘two hop, two malt’ philosophy, and it seems to have paid off immensely. The Cascade and Centennial hops perfectly complement a much lighter malt bill, and their pine and citrus notes come through beautifully strong. It’s still fairly malty despite the lighter malt bill, which also contributes to the sweetness. As Jean says, ‘the beauty of it is down to the simplicity.’
How to get ‘em:
13 Pesos sell their beers in six packs ($38,000 COP) and cases of 24 ($125,000). Delivery’s an additional $7,200 and Jean can usually get them to you within 24 hours. You can pay online, via bank transfer or with Rappi Pay. Message Jean on WhatsApp (316 621 2438) to order. You can find more details about the beers and the brewery on their website.