Rincón Beer Company
A beer boom is abound on the island of Puerto Rico and in its infancy we have the opportunity to get to know and really document the changing tide of beer on the island. This past week I had the opportunity to speak to both Sage and Naomi Hobbs founders of Rincón Beer Company in Rincón, Puerto Rico. Rincón is a very tourist orientated town and one that experiences a huge influx of tourists during the winter season, so it was only natural that a craft beer bar and brewery blossom there. However in a town of season tourism it can be difficult to maintain a steady stream of customers so both Naomi and Sage Hobbs have taken on the challenge of not catering to the tourism crowd but instead developing beers for the Puerto Rican palate and affirming their roots as a Puerto Rican Brewery.
In 2011 Naomi and Sage Hobbs made a bold life decision and packed up everything in Arkansas to begin a new life in the picturesque surf town of Rincón. They documented their move and the beginnings of their acclimation to island life on their blog Puerto Rico Loves Us. It’s a series of amusing stories ranging from rabies shots and new fruit to the opening of the brewpub. From the begining, they realized that Puerto Rico was a craft beer desert and the people of the island were thirsty for something more, something different and something with flavor. At the time of the move the only non-macro beers native to the island they could find were being produced by Old Harbor Brewery and Boqueron Brewery. So the idea of crafting something for the people that showcases and caters to the island, was born. Armed with his knowledge of homebrewing, Sage is creating beers born off of locally sourced ingredients and really identify as a Puerto Rican beer.
Currently Rincón Beer Company is a brewpub with a full kitchen ran by Amanda Simpson of WhatWereEating.com with eleven taps catering to both local and mainland beers. Rincón beers are currently being brewed and will be available for sale within the coming months. Sage will start out with two of his recipes Overhead IPA and Bamboo Blonde. The Overhead IPA is a single hopped Centennial IPA with a lower IBU levels and a floral finish. The Bamboo Blonde is light ale that that goes through a secondary fermentation with, you guessed it, local bamboo. With an abundance of local fruits and flavors such as passionfruit that Sage uses in his Parcha Saison, I know they have their finger on the pulse of Puerto Rico and I’m glad to see them use the abundance of local ingredients.
With this new foray into craft beer comes a bit of change in perception and in process for Puerto Ricans. The market has been dominated by mass produced, light lagers for so long that a slight shift in the potential of beer, needs to grab hold along with the production. When for decades beer equates to watery malt beverage, that idea of producing beer with flavor and aromas can be a little daunting. Rincón combats that with a staff that is well educated in beer and takes that education and pass it along to the customers (one of my keys to a successful bar). They also foster the homebrewing community by being a meeting place for a local homebrew club and hosting homebrew nights. A larger governmental push is also taking shape through legislation and specifically proposal S 776 that not only legalizes homebrewing but also eases some of the $2.55 per gallon tax restrictions on smaller craft breweries. read more on s776
Rincón Beer Company is on the forefront of the craft beer movement and is not only serving local Puerto Rican beer but also giving back through education and its fostering of the craft beer community. If you are visiting the island or are on the island make sure you stop over at Rincón Beer company for a taste of the finest beers the island has to offer. Cheers!