Rookie of the Year
A sixer of Imperial Classic beer, the box sporting a splashy yellow and red color scheme with a black eagle as the logo.

Beers of the Osa Peninsula

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #173. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath and David Shimomura, who add any typos or factual errors that might appear within.


I returned late Sunday from a truly wonderful vacation to rural Costa Rica. We stayed in a bamboo house in the middle of the jungle, swam in waterfalls and spied scarlet macaws, sloths and howler monkeys. 

There is, at the heart of it all, a touching family story I could conjure up for this column. As that seems like a lot of work on a tight deadline, I am going to, in the spirit of the Rookie of the Year’s never-ending mission of service, tell you about the gallons upon gallons of lukewarm to ice cold local beer I drank. 

Here are the names of the beers I had, in no particular order: Imperial Classic, Imperial Silver, Imperial Ultra, Pilsen, Bavaria Masters, Dirigo Fermentory Faro and Dirigo Fermentory Lover. 

Here’s that same list, this time ranked by quality:  1. (tied) Imperial Classic, Imperial Silver, Imperial Ultra, Pilsen, Bavaria Masters, Dirigo Fermentory Faro and Dirigo Fermentory Lover. 

The reason they’re all tied is because other than the Dirigos, which are from a craft brewery we visited, most of them are essentially the Coors Light of their country. Consumed at any temperature lower than brain-freeze cold, they are uninspiring at best. When found frigid on a deliriously humid day in the rain forest, however, they are a revelation.

In case you ever find yourself in Costa Rica, here is your complete guide. 

Imperial Classic: According to our good friends at Wikipedia, Imperial was first brewed in 1924 by Carl Walter Steinvorth, the first orthodontist in Central America. It is a light, refreshing beer, perfect for sitting on the porch of your bamboo treehouse after a nice hike and about sixteen showers. 

Imperial Silver: After the trucker hat with the Imperial Eagle logo on sale at the airport I wanted was for some reason manufactured too small for an adult head, I decided not to do any more research into the Imperial line of beers. But here is how I imagine it: Somewhere along the way, a member of the Steinvorth family, if not Carl Walter himself, decided their brew needed a fancier offering for their more well-heeled clientele, likely either the Costa Rican one-percenters or tourists or both. They achieved this by adding the “classic” name to the original Imperial label, then creating new cans and bottles that are virtually the same except for the Silver name and color swath, and then pouring regular old Imperial beer into them. If you are able to tell the difference between Classic and Silver in a blind taste test, my only question for you is why are you taking a blind taste test when your only goal should be to drink as many as possible until you are so drunk you can’t remember a thing about your stupid real life back home anymore?

A misty sun-drenched Costa Rican beach at golden hour, the sands lined with palms and lush rolling hills rising up in the distance.

Imperial Ultra: When Silver is no longer fancy enough, or, more likely, when you bought eight-packs of all three Imperial flavors at the supermarket because you thought they were different, and you’ve run out of the other two, Ultra is the perfect choice. Crisp, light, refreshing, and TOTALLY UNLIKE both Classic and Silver, ahem, it’ll have you deep in discussion with the giant iguana asleep on the palm tree over the parking lot after only 10 or 15 cans. 

Pilsen: Is this yet another new bottle design with classic Imperial dumped into it? It wouldn’t surprise me. But, no, Pilsen has apparently been around longer, since the 19th Century, so likely it’s more the other way around. At any rate, I had a lot of Pilsen during my trip, but I’ll never forget one particular bottle served to me at Martina’s, the local ex-pat-owned watering hole, which was so beautifully cold I could have wept. I was also told by a bartender somewhere else that it was his favorite Costa Rican beer they had on offer, so score another one for Pilsen over Imperial. It’s also ideal for drinking while floating in a pool at a resort that isn’t your own. 

Bavaria Masters: When we ate lunch at a place called Delfines, Imperial and Pilsen were listed on the beer menu as “Domestic” beers. Bavaria, however, was under the header “Domestic Premium.” There are several types of Bavaria, which I’m sure are all quite different, but I headed straight for the Masters edition, as I didn’t want to mess around after our walk to the Porto Jimenez restaurant under a punishing, cloudless sky. “What’s the temperature?” my sister-in-law had asked along the way. “Whatever temperature it is in Hell,” was my response. 

A charming photo of Wife of the Year with her arms around Kids 1 and 2 of the Year standing in front of the colorful and floral Martina's Bar & Restaurant sign.

Dirigo Fermentory Faro: On our only night in the capital of San Jose, which was also our last night in the country, we stayed at an airport near the hotel – Hotel Aeropuerto, naturally – which the Wife of the Year selected partly for its location but also because it has an on-site microbrewery. My first order was Faro, a German-style brew that came in handy when they forgot to put in my dinner order and I had to eat table tortilla chips while watching everyone else eat. 

Dirigo Fermentory Lover: This is the microbrewery’s “West Coast IPA” which I was told is their pride and joy and tastes like any basic IPA you’ve ever had. It was the last beer I drank in Costa Rica. The weather in San Jose that night was gorgeous – cool, breezy, not at all humid – and an IPA was perfectly fine for the occasion. That being said, I would have been just as happy, if not happier, if one of Carl Walter Steinvorth’s heirs had surreptitiously replaced the contents of the bottle with any of the Imperials, or, by extension, an original Pilsen. 

So, there you have it. You are now, pretty much, an expert on Costa Rican beers. I bet you didn’t have that on your bingo card for today, did you? Now, go ahead and Google the sound howler monkeys make and play it loudly while you’re trying to fall asleep tonight – and you’ll practically be Costa Rican yourself. 


Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.


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