In a new series focusing on craft beer in Bogotá, today we look at Mela’s
One of Bogotá’s most exotic and exciting breweries is Mela’s in Cedritos (Calle 140 #13-86). Its brewer Alejandro Manotas fell in love with beer when he moved to France to learn French after high school and found himself travelling to Munich constantly to see his girlfriend. He learnt how to brew at Munich’s famous Löwenbräu and returned to Colombia to study business at the Rosario University in Bogotá.
During his degree, Alejandro found himself focusing every project on brewing and starting a brewery. One of his professors, Juan Carlos Tafur, was curious about the obsession with brewing and soon became his business partner. Mela’s was officially born during his second semester of 2016, Alejandro and Juan Carlos brewing the beer in the former’s living room. ‘It looked a bit like Breaking Bad’, says Alejandro. ‘We were making 200-300 litres a month. It was a complete disaster.’
Mela’s today is one of Bogotá’s biggest craft beer success stories, with a capacity of 13,000 litres a month and causing no more damage to living rooms. It takes its name from the nickname of Alejandro’s late mother, Carmenza, who tragically lost her battle with cancer last year. A keen eye may also spot the number 62 (year of birth) and a pair of wings at the bottom of the brewery’s logo, as well as in various spots on the cans. ‘She’s our brewery’s little angel’, says her son. ‘She was all the fun in the family.’
Mela’s currently sells four year-round beers: The Atomic Imperial Double IPA, Villeto Manfur Golden Ale (made with panela), Mela Lulada and Beer 4 Breakfast Stout. They also make alcoholic seltzers and have their Melo Salpicon, a sour Berliner Weiss with watermelon, returning this week. Alejandro insists on brewing beer that he wants to drink, rather than worrying too much about what the market expects.
Let’s talk about the Lulada though. Alejandro loves how sour fruits match with salt and prefers to use local fruits in his beers, so he came up with this traditional recipe as an homage to his native Cali’s trademark lulada. It’s a kettle sour that’s low on Mandarina Bavaria hops, loaded with lulo – there’s a whopping 70kg of lulo pulp per 700 litres of beer – and even has a bit of Himalayan rock salt thrown into the mix. While sours aren’t everyone’s thing, this one perfectly hits the spot and is near unbeatable on a hot day.
How to get ‘em
Mela’s have reopened their bar in Cedritos (Calle 140 #13-86) since lockdown eased up. They offer food as well as their beer, and you can pop in from 12pm to 9pm Thursday to Sunday. They’ve also got a gastropub in collaboration with Conosur in Usaquen (Calle 117 #6-64).
There are also three ways to get hold of these beers at home: through the website at www.melascraftbeer.com, on Instagram (@melasbeer) and through Facebook (Mela’s Craft Beer). You can pay by card on the website, otherwise it’s a Davivienda bank transfer, Nequi, or even card or cash on delivery.
The golden ale is $8,500 COP per can, seltzers are $6,500 and all the rest go for $9,000. There’s a 15% discount on cases of 24. For $15,000 you can even buy a 250g tub of ice cream made from the beers, which is around 4% abv. Very soon they’ll be releasing 60 bottles of Double Ice Bock (23% abv) for $50,000 each. Delivery is $7,000 – $10,000 in Bogotá, depending on distance, and they do same day drop-offs for any orders made before 4pm.
Because of the rapidly changing post-lockdown rules, information is subject to change at short notice, keep an eye on brewers’ social media to find out the latest.