Cerveza Balboa de Panama

Cerveza Balboa, Perfecto for Me Just Prior to Lent

Cerveza Balboa and restraint likely don’t go hand-in-hand all that often. Like most good beers, Balboa compels you to have another. And another. Sometimes even one or more after that! When I first discovered this Panamanian brew, though, restraint was definitely in order for me.

Reason: Trinidad Carnival.

There’s nothing like Trinidad Carnival to reignite a man’s appreciation for the benefits of Lent. Believe me, the endless days and nights of epic fettin’ will make you want to give up some vice, any vice for at least 40 days. Even if you don’t have religious reasons to test your restraint, you’ll certainly have restorative physical ones.

So, what did I give up after my 2013 Trinidad Carnival adventure?

Answer: Beer.

Bowing Out from Beer

Considering how much I write about rum, you may be thinking this won’t be any big deal for me, right? Well for me, beer and rum actually go quite hand-in-hand. The two often chase each other during my happy hours.

Giving up on one for Lent doesn’t mean losing out on both, mind you. It definitely portends an overall reduction in consumption though. If you saw me jumping up on Carnival Tuesday, I’m sure you’d agree that this is a good thing.

Stag, Old Oak and Angostura Single Barrel fueled my penultimate day of Carnival fun. The titanic tramp that lasted all of 14 hours under the sweltering Port-of-Spain sun. It wasn’t until I arrived in Panama City the following evening for my connecting flight to Miami that I began to even remotely feel like my regular self again.

It was time for one last beer to bite the hair of the Carnival dog. One last beer before bowing to restraint.

It was time for Cerveza Balboa.

Cerveza Balboa, Elaborada con pasion
Elaborada con pasion | Photo by Steve Bennett

Cerveza Balboa, Panamanian King of Beers?

Brewed for more than 100 years by Cerveceria Nacional (est. 1910), Cerveza Balboa is one of several local beers produced in Panama. (Cerveceria Nacional also makes a light beer called Atlas.)

It’s named after the famous 15th century Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa, of course, though its pedigree is decidedly more North American. If you like your typical American or Canadian beer, you’ll probably like Balboa. It’s crisp and smooth with a nice flavor and very little bite.

Certainly refreshing when enjoyed ice-cold, and not too terribly damaging at 4.8% alcohol by volume, Balboa might be boring to those preferring a bit more character and richness in their beer. For me, though, on this particular occasion, I found Balboa to be heavenly, like a soothing series of soft kisses to all the sore points up and down my body. The perfect last beer for awhile.

Cerveza Balboa also has me anxious to return to Panama to sample more of the many local beers there. Cristal, Atlas, Soberana, and Panama brands are the big names. I’ve read, though, that there are others outside the mainstream that may be a bit more interesting.

Perhaps another, more extended layover in Panama is in order following next year’s Trinidad Carnival fun. Only this time, I think I’ll be delaying any restraining…

¡A tu salud!

Last updated by Steve Bennett on .

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