For the first installment of our craft beer articles we’re going to be reviewing Tierra y Libertad (Land and Liberty) brewery based in Hone Creek, Limón (just outside the popular Caribbean beach town of Puerto Viejo).
My first exposure to Tierra y Libertad was at a craft beer festival in La Fortuna in September 2016. They’re an up and coming brewery. I got to chat with the brewmaster (or as his card says brewmaster and keg washer) Jamie for a good while at the event. He’s originally from Mexico, but has been a homebrewer in the US for a few years before moving to Costa Rica and opening a brewery here.
The concept of fruit-infused beers has been an interest of mine lately, so when I heard that there was a blackberry infused beer on tap I got excited. It was called inMORAl. I heard it was a stout and my excitement faded (I find that a lot of dark beers come across too burnt or coffee like for my taste). Then he told me it was a Belgian style which slightly rekindled my enthusiasm. Then I tasted it…
I fell in love. I joked that instead of inMORAl (Spanish for immoral, but with mora being a pun as it is Spanish for blackberry) I was going to call it enMORAl which is a pun on being in love. It was rich, it was exceptionally smooth, and most importantly for me it wasn’t overly burnt or bitter. It is a dark beer that actually tastes like beer! I’d tasted so many different fruit beers this year, but blackberries were a new one for me; I’m impressed, despite being a fairly acidic fruit they actually blend quite well and make a very smooth beer that has a pleasant and subtly fruity after-taste. They describe it as a: “Belgian Stout with Blackberries. The black and roasted grains of this Stout are mixed in second fermentation with 60 KL of the best Blackberries from Cartago. [It has] a natural, sour flavor and a Belgian Abbey Yeast.” The description is spot on and the beer is amazing.
I can’t understate how much I love this beer. Being a new brewery they’re not bottling or even doing growlers yet. I said if I found an empty bottle would you fill it from the tap for me? He was all for it, but sadly the owner of the restaurant hosting the event said no (after I managed to track down an empty Coke bottle from a very confused grocery store employee who couldn’t understand why I’d want to pay the deposit on an empty bottle). We refused to give up. I hung out longer, I chatted up the restaurant owner, Jamie tried again for me. We got an answer that wasn’t yes, but not a no either. ‘It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission I said’ so we clandestinely filled it up; I was the proud owner of what we affectionately termed the “ghetto growler”. I shared it with family and friends who also loved it.
This beer I didn’t get as much exposure to. I loved the inMORAl so much I kept using my sampling tickets as I was waiting to win over the owner to let me fill up my “growler”. My friend Adriel did get the Petra and we both sampled and talked it over. Tierra y Libertad describe the beer this way: “Caribbean table beer. Beer with a beautiful golden color, refreshing and smooth. With a fruity and spicy character from the Abbey yeast. With a dry finish, Petra can be paired with any type of food.”
Firstly I have to say how often do your run across a “Caribbean table beer”? I think that is part of the reason that both Adriel and I were at a loss for words on really how to describe the beer; all that we could manage were words like unique or different. Overall the inMORAl was definitely my favorite, but the Petra was still an above average offering. It really is different in a way that is hard to put words to. The golden, cloudy color gives an impression that it is going to be a beer with a very bold flavor, but in reality it’s flavors are quite subtle. In fact it has a lightness that almost has a similar feel to what you get to a beer on nitro, but it’s not quite there either. It tasted so light as to almost be fluffy (best word I can come up with) while at the same time having a distinct and appreciable flavor, something that often is sacrificed in such a light beer; not Petra, it is flavorful and light.
Given that the brewery is located down along the hot Caribbean coast I have no doubt that compared to the heavier stout, it would pair very well with your dinner during the still warm early evening hours. It’s not in the elite echelon of it’s brother inMORAl, but it is still a good beer that is worth drinking if you can get your hands on it. I agree with their description, it would pair well with your dinner; save the inMORAl for your dessert.
The Future of Tierra y Libertad
Jamie and I were talking about the future of Tierra y Libertad. Given that they have about 9 months under their belts they’re still growing, experimenting, and creating new stuff. He’s got good vision. I find the best brewers are often the ones who also think in the food the beer will go with as well. We were talking about a Strawberry-California Reaper hot sauce he made that apparently was good (he promises I can try it when I get to the brewery).
I mentioned that one of my all time favorite stouts was from a brewery called Old Forge Brewing Company in Danville, Pennsylvania, USA. They had a one-off Chocolate Chile Stout on nitro that was absolutely divine as part of their chocolate-fest in February 2014. He mentioned that he’s been experimenting with a Porter that has a very similar characteristic with three different chilies and some local cacao. I see a bright future for this brewery. They’ve got the creativity and the ability to be among the best–if not the best–brewery in Costa Rica in the coming years. It is definitely worth checking out if you’re along the Caribbean Coast.
Check out Tierra y Libertad on Facebook and they can be found on our craft beer map here: