Whether you know them as Pola del Pub, The Irish Pub or just El Irish, the founders’ decades of experience shows through in these beers.
Pola del Pub AKA El Irish AKA The Irish Pub is one of the capital’s oldest craft beer providers. El Irish first popped up in the Zona T in 2001, serving pints of Guinness to rolos who had no idea just how lucky they were. There’s sadly no Guinness now, as official distributors sadly stopped selling to Colombia many moons ago, but that hasn’t stopped El Irish from remaining one of the most reliable locations to find a high quality pint in Bogotá. There are now four more pubs across the city, as well as the original in the T.
El Irish had always offered alternatives to Bavaria on their taps, but it was only this year that they started their very own craft brewery. They rebranded to Pola del Pub and now make their own versions of five craft staples. Of course, this is not a case of a bartender trying hand at brewing – Berny Silberwasser founded the Bogotá Beer Company (now part of beer giant Bavaria), Palos de Moguer and Cervecería Colon. Head brewer Charlie Suárez has been brewing for around 20 years now, after originally starting off in the industry as a brewery security guard. The third partner, Tomás Delfino, is one of the only certified beer cicerones in the country. So it’s hardly surprising that the first cans coming out of Pola del Pub tasted like they’d been making them for decades. The first batch of IPAs sold out the same night they arrived from the brewery in Tocancipá.
According to Tomás, the main objective for Pola del Pub is to improve the overall quality of Colombian craft beer. He sees the industry as one in which so-called competitors work together in order to raise the overall standard of their collective market. As he sees it, “The more people try craft beer, the more they’ll fall in love with it and the better it is for everyone involved. There’s room for everyone [in the market].” This isn’t just hollow sentiment either. Before the pandemic hit, the pub in Quinta Camacho boasted 24 taps of local craft beer. They currently only sell their own beers at this stage of the city’s ‘re-opening’, but plan to reintroduce the other crafties as soon as possible.
Pola del Pub currently makes five core beers: Rubia, American Pale Ale, Witbier, IPA, and Nitro Coffee Milk Stout. They’ve also got a seasonal out right now – a refreshing and creamy White IPA to mark the 19th anniversary of El Irish. I haven’t had cause to try the Rubia or Witbier. (I’m sure they’re great, but just look at the other four types they offer). I can vouch for the four American-style beers 100%. Both IPAs are loaded up with citrus- and tropical-note hops (Calypso and Asacca to name a couple) and APA hits a dangerously sessionable balance of biscuity maltiness and refreshing citrus late hops. That leaves us with the Nitro Coffee Milk Stout, which deserves its own paragraph.
As someone who only half-jokingly thinks nitro carbonation should be a legal requirement of dark beers, and who seeks out Guinness whenever he leaves Latin America, I was always going to struggle not to love this beer. Funnily enough, its very existence is partly because Tomás and his partners were sick of copping stick for being an Irish Pub without Guinness, and so decided to make their own nitro stout. I’m glad they did.
Of course, this is not just some Guinness rip-off either. The beer contains coffee from local microroasters Colo Coffee and is brewed with whole Colombian vanilla pods. Tomás laments the fact that most core beer ingredients need to be imported, so they always use as many Colombian-made products as possible. For anyone who hasn’t brewed a Milk Stout before and is wondering how that works, it’s also brewed with lactose, which provides a thicker, creamier body and a hint of sweetness, as it doesn’t ferment with brewing yeast.
How to get ‘em
Obviously the best way to get hold of these beers is to pop into your closest Irish Pub and sit outside in the sun. Each location has ample outdoor space, making it the ideal place for pandemic beers. There are pubs in La Candelaria, Quinta Camacho, Usaquén, Cedritos and Zona T (addresses below), and they’re open every day from 12pm to 1am. They also serve typical Colombian pub fare, i.e. pizzas, burgers, empanadas, to go with the food.
If you’d rather stay in though, just hop on their website and they’ll have chilled cans with you in less than an hour. The cans are American pint-size (473mL) and come in biodegradable packaging. They also sell whole kegs, which come with everything you’ll need to serve the beer, including the glassware. Cans are currently all sold out, but will be back available again in about two weeks.
La Candelaria: Carrera 3 #12-37
Quinta Camacho: Carrera 10A #70-48
Zona T: Carrera 12A #83-48
Usaquén: Carrera 6A #117-45
Cedritos: Carrera 7C Bis #139-82