Last Updated : 24/10/07
Lee Croot has been to Cuba and sends us this top gen... from some research it appears that the brewplant at the Muralla is from Salm of Wien; it opened in June 2003.
'm just back from Cuba where the beer choice is distinctly limited. Standard beers available everywhere are Cristal and Buccanero Fuerte both from the Buccanero brewery in Holguin. Cristal is a clean tasting pilsner type beer which is refreshing in the 30+ temperatures every day; it's strength is 4.8% and is usually in cans or bottles - apart from some luxury/all-inclusive hotels and the brewpub mentioned below draught beer is unheard of. Buccanero Fuerte is 5.4% and is maltier and darker (red-brown). This was my favourite and didn't produce a hangover when also partaking in Cuba's national drink of rum.
I visited Cuba's only known brewpub - Taberna de la Muralla - which is located at the junction of Muralla and San Ignacio overlooking Plaza Vieja in Old Havana (Habana Vieja). A wonderful colonial building with seating indoors and out. Only beer is served along with food to accompany the beers such as sausages, fish and burgers. The menu is the table placemats. The three beers are Clara (clear), Oscura (unfiltered) and Negra (black). A glass of any beer - approx 0.5l - was $2CUC (2 convertible Cuban pesos) or about £1.15. The Negra wasn't available during my visit and unfortunately the other two were very poor beers: the Clara wasn't actually very clear but hazy golden and was bland and tasteless; no discernible hop or malt taste as if it had been severely watered down. The Oscura was a bit darker than the Clara but just as hazy, bland and tasteless. In a country where basic supplies are in short supply I could accept this but the beers from Buccanero are so tasty it may have more to do with politics - Buccanero is state run.
If in Havana the pub is definitely worth a visit and you could spend a while people watching from the outside seating. However, don't go expecting a session on these beers, although some locals were drinking from 2.5l iced beer towers. I moved onto El Floridita where Ernest Hemingway once drank and supposedly where the daiquiri was invented and indulged in more rum to rid myself of the unpleasant aftertaste of the beers.
Taberna de la Muralla - Calle San Ignacio 368 (on the corner of Calle Muralla), Plaza Vieja, La Habana Vieja. Open 11:00-00:00 daily.