An unexpected craft beer bar

Among the things I look for when visiting any city is a craft beer bar.  When I pulled up Google for Old San Juan, I really wasn’t expecting to find much.  Puerto Rico is rum country and their national beer is a pretty standard Caribbean thirst quencher with little to distinguish it.  Imagine my surprise and delight to learn about La Taberna Lupulo, a craft beer bar located about three blocks from my hotel in Old San Juan.

On a lazy Saturday afternoon with the temperatures hitting about 35°C it was time for a pint or two.  Pulling up a stool at the bar, my first selection was a witbier – Lost Coast Great White from California.  Delicious and refreshing on such a hot day:

Lost Coast Great White witbier

As I tried to make up my mind for a second beer from the extensive menu, something caught my eye – an IPA from Puerto Rico’s first nanobrewery.  I asked the bartender what it was like and he said the only way to describe it was to give it a try.  He pulled a small sample for me to see if I wanted a full pint (which, by the way, is one sign of a truly great beer bar).  It was a pretty high alcohol IPA with some hidden floral notes, but wasn’t really my cup of tea.  Also, a pint of this would have had me rolling down the hill back to the hotel:

Dacay IPA from Puerto Rico

It quickly became time for a second pint.  I could have closed my eyes and pointed at just about anything on the menu and likely have been happy.  I decided to go with another California beer – North Coast ACME pale ale – a nice toasty ale with a light hop flavour.  Another good choice for a hot day:

North Coast ACME pale ale

The bar was a real homey place.  There was a mom and dad having a drink at the bar with their kids running around.  A couple of dogs wandered through.  The bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable.  The most impressive decorations in the place were a couple of light fixtures made out of beer bottles and two full refrigerators of interesting craft beers.  Although Old San Juan has a touristy vibe in places, this place had none of that going on.

La Taberna Lupulo

I loved this bar and its neighbourhood feel and it made me long for something similar here at home (a feeling I’ve had after returning from trips to Toronto, Copenhagen, Vancouver and Denver over the past year).  A few weeks after returning home from Puerto Rico my wishes look to be coming true with a new craft beer bar soon to open here in Halifax in the fall.

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