Specialising in unusual flavours while never being too gimmicky, 3 Cárites has a well-founded reputation in the Bogotá craft beer scene
If you’re after a craft brewery in Bogotá that’s a bit more fun and not afraid to try something slightly unconventional, 3 Cárites could be for you. Founded by Mexican expat Sergio Rodríguez Consejo, this is one of Bogotá’s longer-running and more recognised craft breweries, the bottles having been available in restaurants and bars all over the city for the last five years or so. The brewery’s well-known for its slightly more eccentric/experimental range of beers, and anyone who’s been here for a while and likes their crafties has surely put away a couple bottles of Sergio’s fiery-hot chilli Catrina or his ginger APA.
Sergio’s story of how he ended up in Bogotá brewing beer is not exactly dissimilar to that of many of his peers (minus the Mexico part). Originally a salesman for a telecom company, he was sent from his native Mexico City to Bogotá to run their new office roughly a decade ago. Eventually he decided he actually fancied doing something he liked. While he really liked cooking, he figured that at 31 years of age he was probably a bit long in the tooth to become a chef (yes, that depressed me too), so with an eye on an industry with much less competition (in 2012 this was definitely true here), he decided to try his hand at brewing.
Sergio didn’t go half-heartedly either – he spent the next two years homebrewing Saturday and Sunday of every weekend. He then won 3rd prize at the first Craft and Homebrewing Competition in Colombia with his Ginger APA, and decided after that to open up his own brewery in 2014. He soon had a brewpub round the back of El Lago, which lasted for about a year, before he moved his enterprise down to the famous craft beer community on Calle 45 and opened ‘Cervecistas’, which did good business until unfortunately becoming one of the many casualties of the pandemic lockdown this year.
3 Cárites also built itself a reputation from being on tap at Mono Bandido, one of Bogotá’s more cherished craft beer pub chains (3 Cárites was their first ever guest beer when they opened up), and Sergio often used to brew with them. Now you can find his beers in 5-6 Mexican restaurants around town, including the trendy Insurgentes up in Chapinero Alto. 3 Cárites is now a four person operation, with three Colombians involved in day-to-day operations. José David is Technical Director and helps Sergio with the brewing, Miller helps out with admin and sales, and Sergio’s wife Paola is Sales Manager.
One thing that remains very close to Sergio’s heart is the art/hobby of homebrewing, which he’d love to see more of here. With that in mind, 3 Cárites currently sell homebrew kits, which Sergio insists anyone can use without any prior brewing knowledge. For $300,000 COP, you’ll get enough malt extract, hops and yeast to make around 18 litres of American Pale Ale, as well as the 18L fermenter, bottles and caps required. This month and next, they’re planning to release kits for making Stout and IPA as well.
3 Cárites do five regular beers and 2-3 seasonals right now. The core range includes the IPA, Ginger APA, Blonde Ale, Stout and a blonde ale named Catrina, made with habanero chillies. As I touched on right at the start, Catrina’s almost certainly Sergio’s most famous beer, and certainly his most recognisable. Loaded with one particular strain of habanero Sergio likes (a LOT of trial and error with fermentation went into the genesis of this beer), this beer leaves a pleasant but noticeable heat on the palate, as you’d expect. Catrina’s husband Catrin, a Chipotle APA, came out this month for Day of the Dead, as well as Catrina Reloaded, which is basically Catrina but with seven different types of chillies and apparently not too spicy, according to Sergio.
My favourite of 3 Cárites’ offerings though, is the Ginger APA. This American Pale Ale is unique for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it’s not at all hop-driven, which sets it on its own as an APA, regardless of reason number two, which is that it tastes like ginger beer! It’s extremely crisp and refreshing, and whilst the ginger is not exactly hidden away or especially subtle, it’s still very pleasant. I was astounded to find out that only about 150g of ginger goes into the end of a 300L boil – I’d easily put a higher percentage of ginger into a Thai curry without batting an eyelid. Like the habanero in Catrina, the ginger lingers on the palette, but once again, this is not a bad thing. The Ginger APA is definitely still a very sessionable beer.
Where to get ‘em:
As I mentioned earlier, you can find 3 Cárites in loads of bars around the city, as well as in Mono Bandido and a handful of Mexican restaurants. Outside of that though, the only current option is domicilio.
3 Cárites currently charge $6,000 COP for bottles of their core range, $8,000 for seasonals and $25,000 for growlers. This month they’re also doing Catrin and Catrina ‘husband and wife’ growler combos for $40,000, as well as various other daily deals.