Antigua is a small, picturesque city surrounded by active volcanoes in southern Guatemala. It’s renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, many of them restored following a 1773 earthquake that ended Antigua’s 200-year reign as Guatemala’s colonial capital. This timeless, tropical paradise is the home of Antigua Cerveza and Jorge Guzman.
Guzman grew up in beautiful Antigua on a 7-acre coffee farm with entrepreneurial parents. His dad turned the farm and production house into a Spanish school for tourists and his mom was a ceramics artist who exported works to the US and Europe.
With dreams of becoming an Industrial Engineer, he applied and was accepted to Georgia Tech. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, he worked as an investment banker for several years until deciding he was ready to open his own business.
While sipping pints with his two best friends, fellow Georgia Tech Alumni, Taylor Virgil and Jack Spahn, the idea of starting a craft brewery came up. This dream faced many hurdles, not the least of which was a lack of brewing knowledge or experience. A steep learning curve was not something that scared Jorge, who jumped in with both feet, reading as many books on brewing as he could find and volunteering at a brewery to get hands on experience and learn the science behind brewing high quality, tasty beer.
Jorge, Taylor and Jack researched brewing equipment manufacturers and decided the most secure investment would be with Specific Mechanical. They ordered a 15-barrel system which was to be delivered in August of 2015.
The system arrived as scheduled on August 06, and later that day, the equipment was set up at what was about to become Antigua Cerveza. Sadly, the system sat idle for two years due to government delays in licensing approvals. In February of 2017, approval was received and beer began to flow.
Finally able to brew, Jorge’s next challenge was getting his product into customer’s hands. The lack of draft beer infrastructure meant that they had to fund the installation of draft systems in restaurants and bars agreeing to serve their beer.
That investment paid off, as today, Antigua Cerveza brews upwards of 250,000 litres annually, including four staple beers, and rotating seasonal selections it then spreads to its five taprooms as well as some 150 restaurants and bars around Guatemala.
The taproom model is working out so well that they’re planning to open two more. Each is slightly different, embracing the style and surroundings of their particular location, thereby offering the consumer a unique experience.
Future plans include further distribution across the country and into neighbouring Central American countries. Jorge’s partners and investors, many of whom are Georgia Tech alumni, are understandably thrilled with the success of Antigua Cerveza.
With a young son and another little one on the way, Jorge certainly has his hands full, but it’s obvious he loves what he does…“Seeing people order our beer, take a sip, and smile, there’s just nothing like that, it never gets old.”