If you like beer you will love this place

Put quite simply the Cervecería Antiguo Almacén de la Madera y el Tabaco (Former Lumberyard and Tobacco Warehouse Brewery) has been stunningly well done and seems like a game-changer on several levels. It shows just what a good job Habaguanex (the commercial wing of the City Historian’s Office) can do and it greatly adds impetus to the development of the waterfront area around the docks. Having been here, it is not hard to imagine an urban revival along the waterfront to rival other metropolitan cities worldwide.

Coming back to the beer, the building hosts a new micro-brewery equipped with Austrian technology from the company SALM which has invested half a million US dollars in this initiative. Three brewers are responsible for making the beer behind large glass windows, which allow the entire process to be viewed by customers. They are currently using five types of malted barley—Pilsen, Munich, dark caramel, light caramel and toasted—combining them in different proportions in order to obtain different colors and tastes for each of the beers they make: light, dark and black.

A staff of 18 waiters and waitresses serve 400 customers at the tables and 30 at the 37-meter long bar, perhaps the largest in Cuba. Beer is served in tall jugs or “tarros”—towers that hold up to six jugs. Foodwise, the restaurant’s specialty is “chuleta de puerco a la cerveza” (pork chop with beer). The menu also includes grilled seafood, barbecued and grilled meats, brochettes and escabeches (fish in highly seasoned marinade), as well as sandwiches and hamburgers. Kids and vegetarians have their own special menus.

This former harborside warehouse dates from the early 20th century. The steel structure and original architecture have been preserved, as well as other elements related to the building’s former purpose, such as the elevators and the railway tracks, including a locomotive, evoking the early 1900’s when the Havana Central Railroad Company commissioned the construction of the adjacent wharf. The brewery will also feature a lookout, which will encircle the entire building on its upper floor, offering an exceptional view of the bay. This, along with a commercial center that will be situated in the rear of the building next to the old seawall, will be completed in the near future.

The designers have integrated functionality and contemporary style allowing customers to get a sense of the former life of the port, and the coming and going of ships, which from colonial times made Havana Bay an essential stop for traders. The place is enlivened with mural paintings by Cuban visual artists Edel Rodríguez Mola, Nelson Ponce and Raúl Valdés, who have depicted a dreamlike world of sea and beer. There’s also a centrally-situated stage for small-scale performances.

If you like beer, you will love this place. If you don’t, come anyway and appreciate just what a great place it is—and then get a cocktail down the road at the Rum Museum!

Cervecería Antiguo Almacén de la Madera y el Tabaco
Avenida del Puerto y San Ignacio, La Habana Vieja [Opposite the Alameda de Paula and next to the arts & crafts market Almacenes San José].
Opening hours: noon-midnight daily
Beer jug (1/2 liter) – CUC 2.50
Tower (3 liters) – CUC 12

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