Interview: Carolina Conte, Casa Bruja Brewing Co.

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Kathinka Labs Manager Lauren Sandell recently sat down with our friend, Carolina Conte, QA Manager at Casa Bruja Brewing Co., to discuss her recent trip to Fort Collins, craft beer in Panama, and more.

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Carolina completed our Analytical Best Practices of Craft Beer course with Lauren this past week as well as ASBC's Deep Dive into Quality course.

What is your role at Casa Bruja?

My role is “Quality Manager.” I’m working on setting up a QC program, as well as a lab. And hopefully that will all be up and running in a couple of months, so I am very excited.

How did you get into the brewing industry?
It all started because I wanted to study Food Science so I went to UC Davis, and there I was exposed to the Brewing and Fermentation Science Program. After the first class in the program, I really liked it and knew I wanted to focus my studies on the branch. I graduated, went back home (Panama City, Panama) and started working at Casa Bruja. I had known about them for a few years and had toured there three years before. One of the partners is an extended family member, so I originally sent him my resume.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry right now?
Probably, a lack of education and regulation (in Central America). I think it’s important because this leads to a lack of structure in the industry as a whole, and then that makes it difficult going forward as an industry.

What excites you most about the future of craft beer in Panama?
Mmm! I think what excites me most is that everyone is so excited about it. Everyone that is involved is passionate about it. The cooperation and support among the industry are good indicators of its healthy and steady growth.

How do you imagine the craft beer market in Panama 5 years from now?
I think it will be seen as a more understood movement and I guess, also, that it’s going to be more of a “everyone growing together” uniformed growth rather than staggered competition. Strong, cooperative.

What is your favorite Casa Bruja brew?

Sandokan (New England IPA). It was a big hit for us, with good reason. No one had made a beer like that in Panama yet. I think Stefano and Jonathan did a great job with that. When we first released it, we ran out within 3 weeks. It was exciting! 

During Carolina's visit to Colorado she and Lauren had a chance to try some of the delicious craft beer that Colorado is so famous for as well as "nerd-out" over all things beer and quality. The Analytical Best Practices of Craft Beer course included:

  • Anton Paar comprehensive analysis
  • IBU extraction
  • Microbiological screening
  • Sensory Evaluation
  • Data Compilation and Review

It was great to have Carolina in Colorado. We look forward to hosting David from La Rana Dorada soon. The exchange of ideas is positive for both the North American and Central American craft brewing industries. Prost y salud!

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