Among the most distinctive cultural symbols in the Dominican Republic, Presidente Beer has become an iconic brand that represents Dominicans both in the country and abroad. The Presidente brand of beer has become a symbol of national pride, and in its 71-year history has become the beer of choice for Dominicans.
‘Una fria,” or a cold one, has become a patriotic symbol, something intrinsically Dominican.
Like the Brugal rum company, the largest rum producer in the Dominican Republic, Presidente beer has transcended from a simple alcoholic beverage to a way that Dominicans identify themselves. Especially outside the United States, Presidente beer has become one of those icons that manages to keep Dominicans living abroad feeling like they are still connected to their roots.
In recent years Presidente beer has had competition from other brands, but the introduction of these brands into the beer market has not yet been able to challenge the strong hold the beer has on the DR.
Many Dominicans would be surprised to learn that Presidente beer, which has defined this particular Dominican pilsner taste, and its parent company, Cerverceria Nacional Dominicana (CND), which has a 75-year history in the Dominican Republic, has its roots in the United States.
Up until the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century, the only beers found in the Dominican Republic were from either Europe or North America. So in 1929 an American entrepreneur by the name of Charles H. Wazner saw an opening in the Dominican beer market, which he decided to take advantage of. With an initial investment of US$350,000, Wazner and his investment partners founded Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana.
With continued efforts by Wazner and his partners the CND rapidly grew. It was only a matter of time before the CND would introduce to the public a signature product that would so heavily influence Dominican culture for the next 70 years.
May 1935 saw the introduction in the Dominican Republic of CND’s premier product, the Presidente beer, as this beer was designed specifically with the Dominican consumer in mind.
Dominicans found that the earlier introductions of European beers were in fact too heavy, with a distinctively strong taste, and with high levels of hops. Contrary to this Dominicans found the American beers too clear and light, with an extremely low alcohol content, and simply too refined for the taste buds of the Dominican consumer. Presidente beer was the answer to this problem.
The Presidente Especial, the brand’s name at the time, was a mixture of both pilsner extremes previously found in the country, and it quickly managed to satisfy the tastes of the Dominican consumer.
The 1940s and 50s saw the CND prosper, with production of the beer eclipsing the production of rum for the first time ever. This was more amazing considering the fact that rum was at the time the country’s national drink, and held deep historical roots on the island dating back to the time of Columbus.
In 1951 the CND’s current operating plant on Avenida Independencia was built and inaugurated, symbolizing another move forward for the company. During this period Presidente beer became a drink with social distinction, and it began to carve out its place as a symbol of national pride.
Though the 1960s brought turmoil and instabilities to the Dominican Republic, with the death of Rafael Trujillo and the civil uprisings after his death, the CND managed to continueexpansion, increasing production, storage and management capacities.
During the 1970s and 80s the CND continued its development and expansion, as it became one of the most powerful and important distributors in the Dominican Republic.
1983 saw a landmark event, which consolidated the place of Presidente beer in the Dominican Republic.
In 1983 the Grupo Leon Jimenes, long known for its production of cigarettes and cigars, founded the Cerverceria Bohemia (CB). CB, under the supervision of the Miller Brewing Company, (a subsidiary of the Phillip Morris Company, which had maintained a long relationship with Leon Jimenez since 1969), built and installed the most advanced beer production facilities in the country.