Paceña Beer - the Pilsener from La Paz, Bolivia

Apr 30, 2002

The Bottom Line Paceña is the most popular beer in Bolivia. A less-than-average performer as a Pilsener. Not particularly recommended, but interesting to try.

Colorado -- the "Mile High" State -- has Coors and pure Rocky Mountain water. But Bolivia, in South America, brews beer from water obtained from a higher source. The Cervecería Boliviana Nacional (also known CBN) in La Paz, Bolivia, brews and bottles beer at 12,000 feet above sea level. It has been doing so since 1886, using pure Andean water. It is the country's largest brewer with a main office in La Paz, and an additional facility in Santa Cruz.

The Number One beer of Bolivia: Paceña. (60% domestic market share according to a March 2000 report on the beverage markets in Latin America issued by Promar International.)

This is a 5.2% alcohol Pilsener-style beer with a lightly sweet malt body and a fairly short, bitter-hop finish. The name "Paceña" is a feminine noun to indicate someone from La Paz.

The brewery was stated over 115 years ago. It so happens that the old stand-by favorite drink of the Bolivian people is Chicha -- which is made from fermented cereals and corn.

Color: bright gold, with a slight bit of haziness; active carbonation; moderately-sized head of white-colored foam.

Nose: floral hop aroma, some corn malt aroma.

Flavor: Zesty mouthfeel, lightly sweet corn malt flavor. An odd chalky texture with some vegetal-like tones.

Price and Availability
I purchased a couple 12 oz. bottles of this beer at Bristol Farms (a gourmet deli, foods, and wine retailer) in South Pasadena, California. Price was approximately $1.75 per bottle. I have not seen this beer at other retailers that I normally frequent.

This beer was imported by Paceña, Inc., of Miami, Florida. Marketed by Regal Demonstrations, Inc.; located in Burbank, California.

Well, if I lived in La Paz, this would probably be the only beer I could find in reliable supply. It is, afterall, the national beer. That said, I pity the poor Bolivians. This beer ain't much, but I don't suppose, at 12,000 feet above sea level, that it matters a whole lot.

Fine as a thirst quencher, interesting to try. I wasn't particularly impressed by this beer and I very much doubt that I will be buying it again. Unless I visit Bolivia some time. This beer is not freshness dated for the U.S. market.

Verdict: 2-stars. A less-than-average performer as a Pilsener. For less money, I'd rather have a Grolsch or a Heineken. If you are interested in trying other beers from Andean brewers, consider Polar (Venezuela), Bavaria (Bogota, Columbia), or Backus y Johnston (Lima, Peru).

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Member: Tom Carr
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