Hatuey Beer is a name that is synonymous with Cuban beer culture. Growing up in Miami in the 90’s, there was not a party that went on that didn’t have dominos, a Caja China and plenty of Hatuey Beer.
Hatuey is not only a Miami favorite, it was a favorite of the Cuban people. Before the revolution, Hatuey could be found at most legendary bars still standing today.
The story starts in the bustling town of Santiago de Cuba. This colonial town was known as the capital of Cuba before Havana and of course, where Compañía ‘Ron Bacardi’ S.A. was founded in 1862.
Bacardi was founded in 1862 and went on to cement their place in Cuban cocktail culture. In the town of Santiago, a brewing company emerged in 1914 called the Santiago Brewing Company. The brewery was acquired by none other than Compañía ‘Ron Bacardi’ S.A. in the year 1920.
With quality and freshness in mind, the marketing and commercial genius, Enrique Schueg, son-in-law of the Bacardi founder, contracted a well-known German brewer, George J. Friedrich, to produce and market Hatuey. In 1927, the original “Cervecería Hatuey” in Santiago de Cuba brewed the first batch of beer. Hatuey beer was awarded a Gold Medal at the Cienfuegos Exposition that same year.
The Bacardi’s were a very entrepreneurial family and always loved to mesh family and business, which they still do to this day. In 1930, Joaquin Bacardí, a Harvard graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, was sent to Copenhagen to learn the art and science of brewing. Joaquín Bacardí became Hatuey beer’s first Brew Master.
In 1959, right before the revolution, Hatuey was the beer of choice of the Cuban people. Hatuey Beer grew to capture over 50% of the Cuban beer market with sales of over 12 million cases a year.
Once the revolution took hold of Cuba, the Bacardi’s were exiled and the successful beer business came to a halt. While the Bacardi’s were already a multinational company, brewing beer in Cuba was no longer an option. With that in mind, the Bacardi’s focused on their successful rum business.
In 1995, with Bacardi Superior at the top of the rum world, the company decided to relaunch and brew Hatuey in the United States.
To this day, the town of Santiago still lives with the ghosts of its past. Walking through the streets, you can see the old Hatuey Brewery as well as the Bacardi Distillery with the facades marked with decades old paint. But you can still taste the historical Hatuey Beer in some of our favorite South Florida spots like El Exquisito, Cuba Ocho, Taurus, Havana 1957, Ariete & Sweet Liberty.
Tomorrow, the folks from 3:05 Cafecito and Taurus in the Grove want to celebrate when Cuba was free with giving you a free Hatuey to enjoy!