Good Beer Hunting

The Hustle

Bora Brewing Co. — Breathing Life into a Costa Rican Start-Up That's Re-Starting

We met Gustavo Arroyo during our trips to Costa Rica last year, and found him to be a strong leader in the homebrewing community of San Jose. At the time he was starting a brand called El Buho, named after his father, “The Owl.”

He owned the trademark, and had entered the market with some early success. Soon after, the local industrial brewer started its own craft brands, and used the name El Buho for one of their beers. It also became popular, and so the intellectual property competition began. Despite having the trademark and the track record, Gustavo eventually lost, not surprisingly, to time and money. So he was back to square one. 

From our trip in 2015, sharing bottles at Casa Araya. 

From our trip in 2015, sharing bottles at Casa Araya. 

We followed this story closely, hoping for the best. But when the verdict came in, we were determined not to let Gustavo get beaten. After all, in such a fledgling market, every good brewer counts. So a small team at GBH, Michael Kiser and Kyle Kastranec, decided to take on the re-brand pro-bono. Gustavo decided on the name Bora Brewing Co., which refers to the quick, sometimes-intense summer rains that hit the region almost daily. And from there, we developed a visual identity that brings to life a Costa Rican lifestyle where an intense urban environment like San Jose is only a short ride away from two oceans. 


The material and printing constraints were some of the most challenging we’ve ever encountered. For such small runs (it’s a nano brewery in San Jose, after all), everything is done at the local print shop, and applied by hand. To that end, the stock kraft carriers rely on hand stamps—two separate ones—for the master brand and the beer.

We also needed a template that would enable easy editing for one-offs (like many nanos, he’s constantly inventing and exploring new styles) without requiring new illustrations and press checks, all while relying on very small minimums. 

Building on the story of the wind, we developed a colorfield that captured the feeling and palette of those brilliant, summer rains and the afterglow of the dense flora we witnessed ourselves, but also connected it to the source of that momentum. In a market like San Jose, that comes from the character of someone who’s willing to make waves. 

We're proud of how far Gustavo's come in such short time. 

A project by
The GBH Collective