Craft beer Bogotá: Heavy Metal Brewing from Tomahawk

By Tristan Quigley October 15, 2020

Metalheads Sergio and Richard from Cervecería Tomahawk are reopening this week in Cedritos

Photo: Tomahawk
Photo: Tomahawk

Years ago, Sergio Cabrera and Richard McDaniel were just two metalheads, headbanging at various dingy metal venues in Bogotá, like La Tienda Metalera on Séptima and Bogotá Grind Death Fest. They crossed paths at one of the two venues – Sergio’s not sure which anymore – and became good friends. Richard showed Sergio his homebrewing and almost a decade later, the two of them now find themselves in charge of one of the capital’s biggest and most successful craft beer operations, with a staff of eight and a capacity of 2,500 to 8,000 litres a month. 

A very American-influenced brewery – Richard hails from Fort Myers, Florida, and Bogotano Sergio has spent a lot of time in Texas – Tomahawk specialises in ballsy IPAs and brutal, gothic, stylised artwork, which features on each bottle. After years running a not-for-profit Metal radio station called Metal a la Carta, which at one stage had 30,000 listeners around Colombia and over 600 volunteers, Sergio’s a gifted organiser who created the country’s biggest craft beer festival, Festival de Cerveceros Artesanales de Colombia.

The festival is now in its seventh year, and Sergio managed to bring famed author and brewing expert John J Palmer out here last year to judge beers. They also collaborated with him on an Imperial Pastry Stout, which is still available online in one litre growlers. They’ve also got 200L of it aging for over a year an old Jack Daniels barrel that also previously housed rum and premium aguardiente, and will be released in 200 special edition 750ml bottles next month.

The beers

Tomahawk currently sell the aforementioned Imperial Pastry Stout, a Summer Ale, an American Pale Ale, a Black IPA, an American Stout and three fruit infused IPAs – one with mango and pineapple, one with lulo and feijoa, and this month’s new ‘frutos rojos’, which has a great zombie cartoon on the bottles for Halloween.

The one I’m going to focus on here is the IPA con Mango y Piña, because a) there’s nothing else like it in Bogotá and b) I absolutely adore this beer. When you open this beer, you may as well be sucking on a mango pip, as far as the aroma goes. It smells more like a fruit juice than a beer. Unlike most traditional American IPAs, the fruity aroma and taste come from actual mango and pineapple pulp, added to the fermenters around four days in, rather than fancy Californian and Australasian hops. 

Read our guide to craft beer in Bogotá as we keep adding to it

That’s not to say there aren’t any fancy US hops in it – the Cascade and Chinook late/dry hops float nicely over the fruit – but Sergio and Richard felt it best to take full advantage of the biodiversity Colombia has to offer, rather than solely relying on the hops it doesn’t. The natural sugar in the fruit means more for the yeast to turn into alcohol during fermentation, so this IPA has a much lighter malt bill to offset that, meaning it’s much lighter than many IPAs and perfect for a hot day.

How to get ‘em

Tomahawk have reopened this week in Cedritos (Carrera 19 #138-06). The bar’s upstairs and down, with plenty of room and a nice high ceiling, making it very comfortable for beering and dining during these dark times. They do great food from a range of cuisines (I’d recommend the lamb gyro or choripan artesanal myself though) and each one is matched with one of their beers. A pint will set you back $10,900 COP for the Summer Ale, $12,900 for the APA and $14,900 for pretty much everything else. Reservations can be made online (see right below). They’re open from 5pm to midnight Thursday through Friday, and on Sunday afternoons between noon and 6pm.

If you’d prefer to stay home, however, Tomahawk also has a very slick website. Their beers range from $7,500 for the Summer Ale to $8,500 for the IPAs, although this decreases by up to a couple of thousand pesos if you buy by the case and they’ve got a discount on. They offer same-day, cold delivery if you order before 3pm and you can pay either by card with PayU or EFTPOS on arrival.