El Gaff

Though Imperial was great for sipping on the beach in the hot, sticky weather, I needed to find some craft beer! When we were at Surf Mi in Esterillos, Piper had some bottled beers from Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company and I just had to find it on draft!

Though it started out a normal day with a long bus ride back to San Jose, it turned into a somewhat hysterical adventure. As I mentioned in my first post about Costa Rica, directions are a bit different. There are no addresses, well actually there are, but people do not use them. Along with that, they do not really know any of the street names.

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La Case De Amarillo

Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company is in Cartago which is outside of San Jose so we looked for bars that had their beer on draft. With a couple bar names scribbled down, their pointless addresses, and the Costa Rican style directions we were in search of a bar that was 100 meters from the yellow house. Yes, in this case, there was no direction listed so after finding the yellow house (that everyone knew) we went in all directions trying to find this Irish pub. It was no where to be found…

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Here is another little secret- taxi drivers are the only ones that know where things are, well mostly :) So we stopped a taxi driver to get some help. Wait, did I mention it had been raining nonstop the whole time?? Anyways the taxi driver says he has never heard of that bar and when we mentioned the next bar on the list, El Gaff, he said he thought it closed a while ago. So we headed to the third bar on the list which was a little ways out of downtown.

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The taxi driver says this is it and drops us off (from the outside it did not look promising). We walk into this deserted bar that is playing sexy dance music and I immediately know this cannot be the right setting for craft beer. At that point I had no hope that we were ever going to make it to El Gaff or any craft beer. However, after a hydrating Imperial and the helpful bartender, we were refreshed and ready to try one more time.

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We headed back downtown to find a cafe with wifi so we could check out the location of El Gaff again. The cafe con leche was delicious and warmed us right up. We headed on our way once again after some help from the nice coffee shop owner.

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Though I literally doubted ever making it to El Gaff, we finally arrive around 4:30. We walked in and there was only one other customer but people began to trickle in and by the time we were eating, the place was packed.

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We started off by ordering the Libertas Tropical Golden Ale and the seasonal session IPA from Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company. Before even taking my first sip, the co-owner and chef, Eric Saenz, approached us and started chatting with us about the beer. I mentioned I had a beer blog and the next thing you know, we have samples of all the craft beer they have on tap :D

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Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company has been opened since 2012 and here are some reviews of their beer:

The golden ale was very light and crisp. It is a filtered beer so it is a very clear golden color. Eric said they did a unfiltered red dry hopped version that was really good. I was a little jealous I did not get to try!

I really enjoyed the session IPA that was on tap. It is currently one of their seasonal beers so I am not sure how long it will be around.

There other year-round beer is the Segua Red Ale. It was very smooth, creamy and delicious!

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There were a couple other craft beers from other breweries (I do not remember the names). There was this hibiscus with wild honey saison. It had lots of potential- I guess they are still kind of working on the recipe and when it is all set, I think it will be really amazing! There was also an American IPA and an amber. I liked the IPA- nothing too special but a traditional American IPA. The amber, on the other hand, was not very good. It seems Costa Rica’s Brewing Company is the most established but some other breweries are popping up. Hopefully next time I go there will be even more options!

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In between beers we got to try an El ChiliGuaro shot. It has Cacique, salt, pepper, lime juice, and tomato juice- very yummy!

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We were starting to get hungry so after viewing the menu and discussing with Eric, we decided on the Ceviche del Gaff. This ceviche was served differently with the sauce on the side. To eat this the correct way, you are suppose to take a bite and then a sip. Though we could have poured it over we wanted to experience it this way! It was really good- so many awesome flavors!!

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Next we tried the two different types of tuna: Atún Cajun and Tartar de Atún. We may have been in the mood for some seafood :) Both were good but when put next to each other, the Tartar de Atún was incomparable. It was bursting with so many amazing flavors!

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We were feeling pretty happy at this point and continued to just enjoy our beers but after someone near us ordered a pizza, we could not resist the smell! We wanted traditional and something unique so we got half Tomate, Queso, & Albahaca (margherita) and the other half Camarón & Tocina. The margherita style pizza was good but it was not too flavorful especially compared to the other pizza. The Camarón & Tocina had onion, shrimp, bacon and pesto. The combination was wonderful!!

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Though I thought the night could not get any better, Eric came up and introduced the head brewer (on the right in picture below) at Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company!! It was so awesome!

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Though our day started off a little stressful it ended amazingly well. (Well, I will not even go into the story of how we got home but just know that getting places is an adventure :) ). I am so happy I got to visit El Gaff and meet Eric. The service was so wonderful! El Gaff is the place to go for craft beer in Costa Rica!!

Music For Your Ears:

~Eres by Café Tacuba

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12 responses to “El Gaff

  1. You were very close to the first bar, the Irish pub, It was on the same block as the building of the second photo, but it is a very small place

    • ha ha, well that is good to know it exists. We walked around that area but did not see it. The rain and the fact that know one knew where it was did not help us keep looking lol Thanks!

    • Yes, it all worked out in the end :) Earlier in the day we also enjoyed some pastries from the store and they were so amazing! I am still thinking about them…

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