Like politics, beer is a topic that is sure to raise some hackles.
A news story about a beer tasting this weekend drew some negative comments from readers. Among them was Reinhard Sievert of Santa Ana who was irked by the 12,000-colon admission:
“Instead of promoting the breweries/beer in Costa Rica and attract visitors to the exhibition, lots of potential customers will not go due to the high prices. Colones 12,000 entry fee, parking fee for the car, and colones 1,000 per beer. I personally do not support the local breweries anymore due to their high prices,” he said.
Sievert also was unhappy at the prices for beer at the local bars and suggested drinkers should shop the specials at the supermarkets where a can of DAB German beer this week sells for 450 colons, less than $1.
“I would expect to pay more for a good quality beer if the prices are in line,” he said. “But to pay, for example, nearly colones 3,000 for a small bottle of Segua in the grocery store, no way.”
Segua is the beer made near Cartago by expats and named after a Costa Rican fantasy figure.
Some bar owners would share Sievert sentiments about prices. But they say they are not making a profit.
The Costa Rican laws require payments for the business license, employee health insurance and workmen’s compensation. Each sale generates taxes that have to be remitted to the government.
Then there are the informal payment to whatever local official or police officer who comes around.
Then several times a year, the municipality or the Ministerio de Salud launches a campaign that can end up with inspectors closing the establishment.
Consider also employee theft, drunken customers and those who walk out without paying.
In the end, all this generates a cost that is shared by honest customers.
Of course, customers go to bars for reasons other than just drinking beer. They associate with other drinkers. They watch sports. They tell lies and stories.
And the more progressive ones buy a round for struggling newspaper reporters and editors.