Looking for the best craft beer and breweries on your trip to Medellín, Colombia? Look no further! This is the ultimate guide to Medellín craft beer. Whether you’re looking for the best craft brewery, beer bar, or just some packaged beer to take back to your Airbnb, hostel, or hotel, we’ve got you covered.
Medellín Craft Beer Guide Table of Contents
- What is the Medellín Craft Beer Scene like?
◦ Medellín’s craft breweries are heavily influenced by European tradition
◦ Is it Craft Beer, Big Beer, or Homebrew?
- Our Top 5 Medellín Craft Beer Breweries
- Medellín Brewery Honorable Mentions
- Best Brewery Near Medellín
- Most Unique Brewery Experience Near Medellín
- The Ultimate List of Craft Breweries in Medellín
- Other Craft Beer Hot Spots in Medellín
◦ A few more Medellín craft beer bars
- Does Medellin have craft beer festivals?
What is the Medellín Craft Beer Scene like?
The Medellín craft beer scene is expanding rapidly. The number of breweries in Medellín, a city of about 4 million people, is nowhere near the count of comparable U.S. cities, but there is an exciting brew community building.
Medellín’s craft breweries are heavily influenced by European tradition
Though you will find a variety of IPAs, sours, stouts, and other styles that rule the U.S. craft beer scene, Medellín’s beer stylings tend to skew more European in influence. Belgian influenced styles are particularly popular at most of Medellín’s craft breweries.
Think saisons galore, dubbels, bocks, wee heavies, and more. A couple interesting notes: Red IPAs and Cannabis Pale Ales seemed to fill uniquely popular micro-niches.
Is it Craft Beer, Big Beer, or Homebrew?
That’s a good question, and one that can be rather confusing whether you are talking about breweries in Medellín or across the whole of Colombia. The lines, as they do in the U.S., often blur.
Not all cervecerías are created equal
Cerveza is the Spanish word for beer. Cervecería is thus the Spanish word for brewery. But not all cervezas or cervecerías are created equal.
Coming from outside of Colombia, upon arrival in Medellín, you’ll be bombarded with many different beer brands from many different breweries the minute you hit your first cervecería… or so it seems.
In fact, when you step into a cervecería, it may actually just be a bar with a lot of beer on the shelf or taps. And unless you’ve done your homework (like we have done for you, here), you’ll quickly be confronted with Poker, Pilsner, Pilsen, Aguila, Club Colombia, and myriad other beers. Unfortunately for us craft beer geeks, while some of these are decent beers, most of them are produced by the Anheuser-Busch InBev conglomerate.
These are not the craft beers, ahem, cervezas artesanales, that you’re looking for.
You will notice Bogota Beer Company (or BBC) and 3 Cordilleras (Tres Cordilleras) are commonly found throughout the city in restaurants, on taps, and on shelves. These two breweries offer a few different style options that can satisfy the palate.
But these are also not the craft beers you are looking for. BBC is an ABinBev brewery. 3 Cordilleras is still an independent craft brewery, but mostly sticks to a rigid set of basic styles and is positioned more for its commercial offerings than the true craft experience. That said, 3 Cordilleras has a decent taproom in Medelíin that often has live music, though the food was lackluster.
There are then what I would categorize as professional homebrewers, trying to bust into the upper crust of the Medellín craft beer scene. These folks hit on different levels.
There are several that have nothing but a social media presence and you can DM them to buy beer. Others still brew at home or some other small space, but then sell their beers in restaurants, bars, or at a friend’s more established brewery. (PRO TIP: Most Medellín breweries, both professional and pro homebrewers, are mostly active on Instagram. So Instagram is often a good way to learn about events, new beer releases, and such at Medellín’s craft breweries.)
These pro homebrewers, as you would expect, span a range when it comes to quality and consistency. Some will dazzle your taste buds every time, while others are a bit hit or miss.
Then, of course, there are the Medellín craft breweries akin to what we’re familiar with in the U.S., Canada, etc. Some of these are brewhouses and taprooms under the same roof, while others, due to the economics of Medellín are such that many have separate brewhouse facilities from their more centrally located taprooms.
But these cervecerías de Medellín are the sweet spot that you are searching for. If you want true cervezas artesanales, this is where you’ll find a variety of quality, rotating options in a welcoming taproom with community building events. And there are several cervecerías artesanales from which to choose in Medellín.
Our Top 5 Medellín Craft Beer Breweries
It was difficult enough to narrow all the Medellín breweries down to our Top 5, so we cheated a little bit and added some honorable mentions, as well. But that bodes well for anyone wanting to discover good craft beer while visiting Colombia’s Andes Mountain oasis.
ÖlBröder Cerveza Artesanal
ÖlBröder was by far one of our favorites in Medellín. That is thanks in large part to Julian, co-owner and head brewer. He has developed an astonishing palette for designing and making craft beer, particularly since he came from a background of being an engineer and teacher who didn’t even care all that much for beer.
Listen to Julian’s ÖlBröder story on our Craft Beer Travel & Adventure podcast, recorded on location in Medellín.
Located in the Manila barrio (or neighborhood) of the popular El Poblado district, ÖlBröder is very much a quaint taproom, tucked off the street amongst several other businesses. You instantly feel at home in the warm taproom (Julian brews the beer elsewhere), which houses numerous events each week, from live music to trivia to language exchanges to beer pairings and educational events.
Julian carries a wide range of styles on his seven taps, as well as a few bottles in the cooler. Everything from an American Pale Ale to an Irish Stout or a big, boozy Belgian Quad can be on offer amongst the ever-rotating selection on tap.
ÖlBröder is definitely one of our “must stop” breweries in Medellín.
Sierra Blanca Cervecería
If you’ve only got time for two Medellín breweries, Sierra Blanca is the other cervecería that you must get to while in this nomadic friendly city. Located in barrio Provenza of El Poblado, within walking distance of ÖlBröder and Foxey Pub, Sierra Blanca has the best beer and the widest variety of any Medellín brewery, bar none.
Carlos brews his cervezas in the southern Medellín neighborhood of Envigado, but has a vibrant, yet still intimate taproom in Provenza. While Provenza overall is known for a Las Vegas style late night club scene, Sierra Blanca is a craft beer oasis to escape the wilder side of Provenza.
The Sierra Blanca Taproom Provenza is a fun place to sit down with locals and visitors alike, frequently with Carlos and his wife milling about. They have 12 taps on the wall (and a few special bottles in a cooler) covering the most extensive range of beer styles of any Medellín cervecería.
At Sierra Blanca, you’ll often find everything from a Mosaic IPA to a Scottish Export Ale to a Cream Ale, Saison, or Porter. Carlos is also one of the most successful brewers in Medellín at imparting a local flavor. You will certainly be hard pressed to find his Tomate de Arbol Gose anywhere outside of Sierra Blanca’s Medellín taproom.
Carlos is also recreating chicha with an artesanal spin on it. What is chicha? It is a traditional South American or Latin American beverage made from maize (corn). While there are fermented and non-fermented versions of chicha, Sierra Blanca’s take is most definitely a fermented version of chicha.
You can certainly understand our intrigue and appreciation for Carlos and what he has created at Sierra Blanca. But don’t just take our word for it, be sure to visit Sierra Blanca at their Provenza taproom and skip on over to ÖlBröder, as well. But before then, listen to Carlos tell his Medellín craft beer story on the Craft Beer Travel & Adventure podcast.
Bipolar Brewing Company
Located on the outskirts of the northern edge of El Poblado, again in the Manilla area, away from most of the hustle and bustle, is Bipolar Brewing Company. Bipolar was the first Medellín brewery on our hit list, put square on our radar by Purpose Brewing and Cellars owner and former New Belgium Brewing Company brewmaster Peter Bouckaert. (Uh yeah, we’re definitely gonna follow up on that suggestion!)
Bipolar has an excellent array of 15 taps in a small taproom with a smattering of outdoor space. There appears to be a theme to the Medellín breweries that we prefer, as Bipolar is another one with an impressive assortment of styles to choose from. They generally have several IPAs on tap, as well as a couple goses, radlers, a Kölsch, ambers, porters, and stouts. They cover the full gamut.
We discovered a well put take on Medellín, both from a beer and a food standpoint, in chatting with a guy named Justin, a fellow Bipolar patron who had been living in Medellín for about 10 years. He noted that unlike the zing of flavors that we are used to in the United States, much of the localized craft beer and food in Medellín was suave or soft.
Justin explained that calling the beers suave was not meant as disparaging, but just a general observance.
Bipolar was early in our Medellín beer tour, but as we ventured out to other breweries, we found Justin to be spot on. As we noted that the Medellín craft beer culture is very much influenced by European stylings, it then made sense that you shouldn’t expect the flavor bombs of the more aggressive stylings of many U.S. craft brewers.
20Mission Cerveza Artesanal
When we first set foot in 20Mission, it was a rather impressive, gargantuan space built to house a rather large crowd. Not usually drawn to such massive breweries, the folks at 20Mission did a tremendous job with a vibe that screamed brewery ambiance with eclectic decorations, communal tables, and an impressive space for bands, karaoke, and other events.
Initially, I was a little disappointed that 20Mission was limited to six non-rotating taps. But although 20Mission intentionally limits the quantity of options, they made up for it with quality.
First, their beer quality is impressive. Second, they did a fine job covering a lot of ground with the six cervezas on offer. Not piddling around with offerings that pander to the big beer mass market audience, 20Mission’s six offerings are a blonde, a witbier, a pale ale, a port, an IPA, and a saison.
20Mission is also a quick jaunt down the street from Bipolar in barrio Manila, making for a nice one-two punch.
Located down the street from Parque de El Poblado (El Poblado Park), we initially thought that Barrica was a beer bar. And it is somewhat of one. With 20 taps, about half are typically Barrica’s own brews, while the remaining cervezas are from other local brewers, such as 20Mission, Espiga, Barbaros, and others.
What we loved about Barrica, well, there were many reasons. It’s a truly fun space with lots of barrels, graffiti, plants, and open brick walls creating a true brewery vibe. But even more than that, they put a lot of fun into their beers.
From beer names to the creativity of styles, Barrica took the seriousness of making excellent beers and wrapped them up in a fun, light-hearted vibe. Two standout beers that quickly became favorites were CRIPA (pronounced kree-pah), a cannabis terpene infused IPA with all the pot dank that you might expect and Malas Decisiones (Bad Decisions), a 9% ABV imperial red ale aged in Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire cinnamon liqueur barrels.
Many of Barrica’s beers are barrel aged, ranging from a wheat beer aged in tequila barrels to a Jägermeister-aged stout to a summer ale aged on red fruit and coconut in rum barrels.
Barrica is a fun spot near many restaurants and not far from other great beer stops, such as ÖlBröder and Métropole Beer Lab.
Medellín Brewery Honorable Mentions
There are many good craft breweries in Medellín. Too many to list them all as our favorites. But there were more that almost made our Top 5, but just didn’t quite make it.
One such brewery is Bufona Cervecería Colombiana. You can find out more about Bufona in our Craft Beer Travel & Adventure podcast with the founders, Daniel and Tomas.
But in a nutshell, Bufona was the newest brewery in town when we visited Medellín. There was a fairly popular brewery named Maestre, but they closed and Bufona took over the space, continuing to brew good beer. Bufona is bound to eventually knock someone out of the Top 5, as their exuberance for the Medellín craft beer community and their commitment to quality beer and a fun, inviting atmosphere are intoxicating.
Bufona is smack in the center if you triangulate ÖlBröder, Sierra Blanca, and Barrica. As you can see, a Medellín walking brewery tour is well within scope.
When scouting the northern area of El Poblado to visit 20Mission and Bipolar, just a tad bit further north and still walkable, is Cervecería Libre, another quality example of Medellín breweries.
Libre is similar to many urban U.S. breweries, as it is tucked into a small area in a heavily industrial area. But also similar to those urban breweries, Libre gave their digs a cool, industrial vibe, including a roll-up garage door entryway.
With a distinctly neighborhood bar vibe, Libre has a wall of 18 taps, which is about two-thirds their own brews, plus a few guest taps from their friends at Sierra Blanca, Espiga, Hakuna, and others. Libre’s own brews cover the gamut from several IPAs, Pilsners, a Märzen, wheat beers, stouts, and more.
Métropole Beer Lab
Not to be left out is Métropole Beer Lab, an offshoot from one of the founders of Bipolar. And, as we already mentioned, it is literally just around the corner from Barrica. You’re welcome for the ever-expanding Medellín beer tour!
A small, narrow two-story space on the corner, Métropole is a tight, but distinctly younger vibing space with a solid selection across its nine taps. As with many other Medellín breweries, Métropole had a cooler with several beers from other breweries, such as Bipolar and CAOS, as well as some imports, like BrewDog’s Punk IPA.
Best Brewery Near Medellín
We didn’t stray too far outside of Medellín and its outlying neighborhoods, as the options become much more spread out, especially when traveling by taxi or a ride share service. But one such brewery that we were sure to make time for was TorreAlta, a brewery that most of the brewers in Medellín proper insisted we visit.
They did not guide us astray!
TorreAlta is a gorgeous, massive two-story building with a beautiful outdoor space with heaters. It is located about 45 to 50 minutes southeast of Medellín proper in Retiro. It is well worth the trip, particularly if you couple it with a visit to 72 Juanas in Rionegro.
TorreAlta specializes in Belgian style beers. While we were there, the 12 taps coonsisted of three saisons, a Belgian single, a Belgian dubbel, a Belgian tripel, a Belgian quad, a Belgian stout, a Belgian strong ale, an IPA, a witbier, and a fruited sour on tap. We tried most of it and all of their beers were superb.
The food at TorreAlta is also excellent. They offer tacos, pizza, bratwurst, and several appetizers.
Most Unique Brewery Experience Near Medellín
Cervecería Artesanal 72 Juanas
This was by far our most unique brewery experience while visiting Medellín, if not anywhere we’ve ever been. 72 Juanas is located on a small farm in Rionegro. Similar to TorreAlta, it is about 50 or so minutes slightly southeast of downtown Medellín.
72 Juanas is a true nano-brewery. It was founded by Alberto, a man in love with Belgian style beers. The tiny brewing set-up is housed within his home, though he is not the brewer. His master brewer is Daisy, who makes excellent cervezas in the Belgian tradition.
It’s rather appropriate that 72 Juanas’ master brewer is a woman, as Alberto built the theme of the brewery around the Juanas, a group of women who lived during Colombia earning its independence from Spain. The lone cerveza not named for one of the independence era Juanas is Maria Ossada (a Belgian Strong Ale) named after another strong woman, his daughter.
72 Juanas is not a brewery you can just walk into and take a seat at the bar. There is no bar. Alberto’s beers are served by reservation only, outside under a canopy in his garden. He leads you through a private tasting of the six variants he has in bottles, along with some small bite pairings.
These are not splashes, but full pours to savor, as Alberto tells the stories of the historical women each of the beers are named after. All the while, he is also educating you about each of the beer styles and how they pair with food.
Alberto also has a small beer museum, housed in his home, just like the brewery, that is on display during your tasting.
We made a day of it, taking advantage of 72 Juanas’ incredibly unique beer tasting experience that filled our afternoon with Colombian delight. Then we stopped at TorreAlta for some tacos and tasted all of the beers they had on offer, as well, before returning to Medellín.
The Ultimate List of Medellín Craft Breweries
Finding breweries in Medellín is an entirely different ball game than finding breweries in the U.S. and many other countries. Some of these are stand alone breweries and/or taprooms that have their own location, while others are only found in a communal setting like Foxey Pub.
Others still are simply small brewers that don’t have a taproom and only sell their beer via direct messaging on social media and/or have their beer available on tap or in bottles at other breweries or in bars.
- 3 Cordilleras Cervecería (Tres Cordilleras)
- 4 Hermanos Cervecería Artesanal (in Foxey Pub)
- 4S Cerveza Artesanal (in Foxey Pub)
- 20Mission Cerveza Artesanal
- 72 Juanas Cervecería Artesanal
- Abadia Cerveza Artesanal
- Barrica Cervecería
- Beer Lobos Cerveza Artesanal
- Bipolar Brewing Co.
- Bufona Cervecería
- Caos Brewing Co.
- Capigüa Cervecería (in Foxey Pub)
- Colombia Craft Brewing
- Dog Pi Brewery (in Foxey Pub)
- Espiga Cerveza Artesanal
- Hakuna Beer
- La Cima Cerveza Artesanal
- La Planta Cervecería
- Lardi Brewing (in Foxey Pub)
- Libre Cervecería (standalone and in Foxey Pub)
- Madre Monte
- Métropole Beer Lab
- Mi Tierra Cervecería (in Foxey Pub)
- MOj!GATA Cerveza Artesanal
- ÖlBröder Cerveza Artesanal
- Sierra Blanca Cervecería
- TorreAlta Cervecería
Other Craft Beer Hot Spots in Medellín
Any craft beer aficionado knows that the breweries themselves aren’t the only places to get good craft beer. Here are our favorite beer bars in Medellín. They have tremendous craft beer selections, whether local to Medellín, from across Colombia, or across the globe.
As much as I love breweries, there is nothing like a good craft beer bar with a well-curated selection. That is Punta Arena in a nutshell, the quintessential Medellín craft beer bar.
Housed on a little corner in the Laureles neighborhood, it is across from the Laureles campus of Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana de Medellín.
Punta Arena is run by a Medellín craft beer geek that really knows his stuff. Everything on tap and in bottles is quality cerveza artesanal curated by Eduardo. Most of the brews are from Colombia, but there are other international beers, as well.
In fact, Punta Arena had the famed Delirium Tremens amongst its 21 taps. There are also about 20 or so different bottles on offer at any given time, as well as some tasty food options.
Located in the Manila neighborhood not far from ÖlBröder, Foxey Pub is like a miniature Medellín brewfest.
Walk up the stairs into Foxey and you are greeted by the image of Gene Simmons of KISS (yes, Foxey is definitely hard rock themed). Step onto the second floor and scan the plethora of local breweries stationed throughout the space, somewhat of a food court for Medellín breweries.
There are about six or seven cervecerías that each have their own bartop and taps, all side-by-side. Each brewery has multiple beers and styles, just as if it were in their own taprooms.
That’s the thing about Foxey, many of the breweries strewn about the room are those pro homebrewers or breweries that have just enough space for production, but often can’t afford their own taprooms. So they coalesce at Foxey in a sort of communal taproom space. Good business for them and a fun experience from craft beer geeks.
Some of the brewers at Foxey Pub are better than others, but there are some standouts. 4 Hermanos and Libre, when we visited, were the best. Their cervezas were the most consistent in selection and quality. Though there were several other good brewers there, some of their beers offered mixed results, particularly when it came to quality.
But wait! There is a third floor to Foxey Pub, where you’ll find a kitchen with good food offerings (which you can take down to the second floor, if you choose), and frequently there is a band playing. What really stands out on the Foxey third floor, however, is a curated trio of breweries (such as the likes of Sierra Blanca) that are served in union from behind a unified bar.
Magia Negro Cervecería
Located in the Envigado neighborhood in the south end of Medellín, Magia Negro Cervecería is not a brewery, but certainly serves up a well curated list of some of the best local breweries.
From brewers making the move from pro homebrewer to the likes of more established breweries such as Sierra Blanca, Bipolar, and Libre, Magia Negra’s selection of cervezas is spellbinding. They also offer some cocktails and spirits, plus you can bring in food from the neighboring restaurants. (PRO TIP: Bianco Pizza across the street is excellent!)
Medellín Coffee and Beer Bonus: Flora’s Black Coffee
We stumbled onto Flora’s Black Coffee because they regularly host a language exchange meet-up. But what we found was also an amazing place to bring a host of people with a range of tastes.
Yes, Flora’s had all the decadent coffee drinks that the name promised, but also a full bar with mouthwatering cocktails, several excellent food options, and a cooler full of excellent cervezas artesanales, as well as numerous imported beers.
Flora’s Black Coffee is located just south of the Poblado stop on the Medellín Metro line.
A few more Medellín craft beer bars
While we haven’t yet visited the beer bars on this list. Here are a few more spots that were recommended as good craft beer finds in the Medellín area.
- Madre Monte Cerveza Artesanal (Guayabal)
- Beer Lab (El Retiro)
- The Corner Bar (Laureles)
- Medellín Beer Factory (Provenza)
- Comuna 13 (popular tourist area has several small, but good spots for craft beer)
Does Medellín have craft beer festivals?
Yes. There are different craft beer festivals that pop up from time to time in Medellín. The one consistent presence is La Toma Cervecera, which operates craft beer festivals around Colombia, including Medellín.
La Toma Cervecera has focused on a huge Oktoberfest beer festival in Medellín. It congregates many craft brewers from around the city and Colombia, as well as a few international offerings. There is also live music and comida artesanal (or craft food) at the festival.