Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Lima’s Barbarian Brewery Sold to AB InBev’s ZX Ventures

In a move that caught almost everyone by surprise, the announcement was made early last week that Lima’s Cervecería Barbarian had been 100% acquired by ZX Ventures.

Barbarian was one of Peru’s most visible and successful early craft breweries. A winner of many awards, and headed by a charismatic and friendly trio of friends -Diego Rodríguez, Juan Diego Vásquez, and Ignacio Schwalb-, it was often featured in stories in print and visual media. Barbarian promoted itself as leading the “beer revolution”, and it was in no small part through their efforts that space was opened up for Peruvian craft beer in supermarket shelves and coolers.

ZX Ventures, on the other hand, is an “innovation and investment” group for Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company. ZX Ventures specializes in bringing AB InBev’s reach into areas hitherto unexplored by the company, such as homewbrewing supplies, beer e-commerce, beer vending machines, and in acquiring and then funding expansion of startups in new markets. It already owned 13 breweries around the world.

AB InBev, for its part, has already had a footing in Peru, since its 2016 acquistion of Ambev Perú and of the Backus & Johnston brewing empire. With the acquisition of Barbarian it garners a foothold in the “craft” market, and one via a company that comes with two successful bars and another on the way, and which has already proved a market for premium and superpremium beers (which Backus itself had already unsuccessfully tried its hand at via its short-lived Abraxas beer.) Under the terms of thedeal, Rodríguez, Vásquez, and Schwalb, along with Barbarian’s 120 employees, will all remain in their current positions and roles.

Not surprisingly, news of the sale sent shock waves through the Peruvian craft beer community.

The immediate realization was that the waters around what is a craft brewer, and thus a craft beer, were about to get quite muddied. The fear being that Barbarian’s strong public identification with the craft beer movement would persist, not only in the company’s self image, but in the eyes of consumers, while AB InBev would use Barbarian’s visibility and reputation, backed by Backus & Johnston’s clout, to choke off market access for craft brewers.

The second was that the craft brew industry needed to get out ahead of this and define what makes a brewery a craft brewery, and thus a beer a craft beer.

The Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú (UCAP), quickly settled on independence being a key feature, and suggested that breweries place a logo on their social media pages reading “Yo sí soy una verdadera cervecería artesanal” (I am a real craft brewery) and the hash-tag #cervezaindependiente. At the same time many supporters and craft beer drinkers -including myself- followed suit and rushed to add a similar logo to our social media feeds and pages (including this blog), reading “Yo sí tomo verdadera cerveza artesanal” (I drink real craft beer).

The campaign more or less landed with a thud. Many consumers, commenting in FaceBook groups, rejected it, viewing it as sour grapes from a bunch “haters” resentful of others’ success.

The truth is that many members of the UCAP are personal friends and acquaintances of Barbarian’s founders, and in fact, until the morning of the announcement of the sale, Barbarian’s Juan Diego Vásquez was the president of the UCAP. However, because the logo campaign was not preceded nor accompanied by any public statement explaining it, and which could have been used to congratulate the Barbarians, thank them for their efforts on behalf of craft brew in Peru, and to wish them well in the future, the choice of language for the logo came to be seen as pointedly anti-Barbarian.

The UCAP’s members are coming to realize that the sale of Barbarian presents them with the challenge and the opportunity to start the process of formally defining what is a craft brewery in the Peruvian context, something which, as I’ve noted before, has not yet been done very well.

The 5 Best IPAs Made in Peru

Hi, today, on IPA Day, we are honored to have a guest post from Peru’s foremost beer blogger, José Alberto Castro “El Gourmetógrafo”.

José Alberto also writes beer and cocktail articles for Peruvian food and drink magazines, is an experienced food/drink photographer, a Recognized BJCP judge, and a talented musician.

This article was written specially for today and initially published in Spanish and in English on his blog, TomandoAltura.com.

Long Live IPA 2019

by El Gourmetógrafo 1 August 2019

Megan, born and raised in Connecticut but living in Lima for many years, once told me that every time she went back to her country and ordered an IPA, the bartenders failed to understand what she wanted. The reason, she explained, is that she used the ‘Peruvian way’. In Peru ‘IPA’ rhymes with the British pronunciation for ‘deeper.’ Maybe it was how suddenly the style caught on that made us turn the ÁIY-PIY-ÉY pronunciation into a more approachable ÍYPAH. Whatever the reason, we cannot deny that India Pale Ales became the favorite kind of beer for many because they felt like the exact opposite of the golden and brilliant lagers that smell as boring as an empty glass left to dry on a drain rack. To give the celebrated IPAs the spotlight it deserves in Peru, we have created the first edition of Larga Vida IPA and chosen the 5 best IPAs made in Peru.

mejores IPAs peruanas: Los 4 jueces antes de empezar la evaluación de las muestras en Santas Alitas, Surco.

The 4 judges just before the blind tasting of IPA samples at Santas Alitas, Surco.

This initiative started as part of an interest my friends Mohammed, Olivier, and I share. We had previously gotten together to sample and rate as many Belgian tripels available in Peru. Other beer styles followed using blind tastings. When we were in the middle of discussing the possibility of a new get-together to blind taste IPAs, I came up with the idea of fetching IPAs brewed in Peru using only water, malt, hops, and yeast and publishing the results today precisely on IPA Day. After many much needed phone calls and text messages, 17 Peruvian breweries agreed to send us their samples with no cost neither for them nor for us. Such exciting news encouraged me to register the event to have it sanctioned by the BJCP. In order to give our judging staff another experienced set of taste buds, we managed to convince Megan to join us. She is perhaps the Peru-based beer judge that has participated in the most competitions abroad.

This being a BJCP-sanctioned mini-tournament of American IPAs made in Peru, we must play by the rules. That means we will not publicize the scores given to each beer nor will we reveal the names of the 14 participating breweries —three breweries did not meet the dealine set for sample delivery. Observing the rules, each of the participating breweries will receive the beer score sheets filled out by all four judges including final assigned scores. Without further ado, here are the 5 Best Peruvian IPAs determined through blind tastings by Megan Garrity (Certified BJCP Judge), Mohammed Reza (Certified BJCP Judge), Olivier Díaz (Provisional BJCP Judge), and José Alberto Castro (Recognized BJCP Judge).

5th Place: It is a little funny that my first article on IPAs (Catering & Gastronomía, January 2016) included this beer by Planeta Bierra. Undoubtedly, Diaplipa‘s first appearance in the year 2014 has given this Double IPA not only the chance to position itself among beer drinkers in Lima but also to get better batch after batch. This new version of Diaplipa, you will notice it features a new label, deserves a place on this list due to its intense bitter flavor, its balance between caramelly malts and citrusy and resiny hops, and its powerful dry finish.

mejores ipas peruanas: La Diablipa ha retornado con imagen renovada.

Diablipa has returned with a new presentation.

4th Place: I must say I would have felt weird not to see this beer among the best IPAs from Peru. Inti Punku has been one of my favorites of all times, just like Brewery of the Sacred Valley. So every time I find myself at a taproom, I set the goal of finding a place near the taps, keeping an eye for a proper service, and then enjoying it. As you know, Init Punku is only available in kegs, so Juan and Carlos got out of their way to bottle three samples of this bitter delight filled with assertive flavors of citrus fruits and pine wood.

mejores ipas peruanas: Ésta es definitivamente la mejor versión de la Ilusionista de Invictus.

This is definitely the best version of Ilusionista by Invictus.

3rd Place: If a beer-drinking region such as Cusco deserves a place on this list, it is only fair that the region of Arequipa should have a spot too. Seis Mistis by Melkim proves that the medals that Peruvian beer tournaments have recently awarded to the brewery owned by the Quispe brothers are well deserved. This refreshing IPA brewed in Arequipa has made it to the top three thanks to its dry profile showcasing a great balance between tropical and resiny hops and caramel-scented malts complemented by subtle touches of peaches and apricots.

mejores ipas peruanas: La Seis Mistis ya nos había dejado una buena impresión en nuestra reseña publicada a inicios de julio.

Seis Mistis had already left a good impression on our review published in early July.

2nd Place: I feel more than pleased that another of my favorite IPAs has made it into this select group. Though I must admit this is not the same memorable Cat IPA by 7 Vidas that I tasted on draft at the CAPFest 2015, this IPA made in Tacna is among the best I have tried in the six years I have been drinking good beers. The hand of Marco Málaga, the experienced master brewer that has started to collect medals with his Argentina-based craft brewery Okcidenta, is becoming more and more obvious. I love how intensely this Cat IPA drinks, but I like the hop-driven touches of white onions and garlic even more.

mejores ipas peruanas: La IPA más felina del Perú es la Cat IPA de 7 Vidas.

The most feline IPA in Peru is Cat IPA by 7 Vidas.

1st Place: This beer is also among my favorites from the CAPFest 2015, the year when Invictus released their well-known Alquimista and Ilusionista, the best Peruvian IPA of 2019. And it is the best because its bouquet is tropical and resiny, because its body does not wear out the palate, but most of all because its aftertaste leaves a delicious and long taste of mango skin and because it is so totally easy to drink. In a city so intense as Lima, on a night like the one we will have in just a few hours when so many bars will join the IPA Day celebrations, it does us well to have an American IPA that helps us to leave it all behind and makes us remember all the reasons you also made IPA your favorite beer style.

mejores ipas peruanas: Ésta es definitivamente la mejor versión de la Ilusionista de Invictus.

This is definitely the best version of Ilusionista by Invictus.

All that is left to do is to announce there will be a Larga Vida IPA 2020 and that second edition will allow entries for all IPA styles, old and new. We will have every American IPA, English IPA, session IPA, red IPA, New England IPA, and hoppy beer that Peruvian (and foreign?) craft  breweries and home brewers choose to enter. And remember that if you prefer to celebrate IPA Day drinking these beers at home, La Cerveteca has put together the Larga Vida IPA 4-pack with Ilusionista, Cat IPA, Seis Mistis, and Diablipa. May the night be in your favor.

Cheers!

“Chicha de Mora” by Magdalena (Lima, Peru)

“Chicha de Mora”, from Lima’s Magdalena brewery, is described on the bottle as an “American Wheat Berry and Purple Corn Ale.” The name is a play on two traditional Peruvian corn brews – chicha de jora, which is fermented corn beer made from malted corn (jora), and chicha morada, which is made from boiled purple corn.

Despite the name and ingredients, the beer itself is not purple, but has a lovely orange amber color, with a slight blush of pink; no doubt contributed by the purple corn. It is slightly hazy, which is to be expected from a wheaten ale.

The beer presents a nice, initially rocky, head that soon subsides to a thin layer of small bubbles. There is plenty of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Mild hop aroma, smells “wheaty” but not like a heffeweizen – no banana, bubblegum, or citrus. Well, maybe a little citrus.

Midly effervescent, with moderate hop bitterness. Some pine notes, some grapefruit, both both very light.

In terms of mouthfeel, it is slightly tangy up front, giving way to a residual sweetness at the back end. Maybe an effect of the corn?

5.6% abv, 19 IBU

“Chachapoyana” Honey Kölsch by Sierra Andina

Sierra Andina is a craft brewery from the northern Peruvian Andean city of Huaráz, situated at 10,000 feet above sea level and near the foot of Mt Huascarán, which rises a further 12,00 feet from the valley floor.

In the past Sierra Andina has harkened to that Andean setting for the names and styles of their beers —Don Juan Porter, Pachacuti Imperial Ale, and so on– but this time I am trying a beer for which they have reached beyond the mountains, to the high jungles of Chachapoyas, at the edge of the Amazon basin.

Chachapoyana” is the beer; a 4.5% abv, 26 IBU honey kölsch.

Chachapoyana is a of a yellow, golden color (4-6 SRM, I figure) beer; fairly hazy, but not thoroughly opaque. It has a medium but longlasting effervescence, with “strings of pearls” rising from the bottom for quite a while after serving.

In the nose, the honey addition is evident. There is a slight jora smell as well. In flavor, it is slightly fruity, but I can’t pick out any specific fruits. There is also a teeny tiny tang in the background.

It finishes effervescent, with a very slight mineral finish at the very end, as the beer passes the throat, that you’ll appreciate if you’re a fan of mineral water.

Chachapoyana is light, crisp, and refreshing, as is befitting of a kölsch. This beer goes down very easily.

4th Peruvian Beer Cup

From the 19th through the 21st of June, Lima was host to the 4th installment of the Copa Peruana de Cervezas (Peruvian Beer Cup).

The competition is organized by the Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú and is open to commercial brewer and homebrewers, but is restricted to beers brewed within Peru’s borders.

This year the judging pool was made up of 21 BJCP-certified judges from Peru, Brazil, and Argentina, who together evaluated 200 entries.

I had been invited to observe but I was unable to attend due to conflicting travel plans. Thus, I have no idea of how the flights were organized, but here are the winners, organized according to the BJCP styles, as they were announced (thanks to UCAP and tomandoaltura.com for the info!)


COMMERCIAL BREWERS

2A. International Pale Lager
Bronze medal to Barranco Beer Company (Lima) for their Fifti Lager

3A. Czech Premium Pale Lager
Gold medal to Cerveceria Barbarian (Lima) for their Magic Quinua Pils

3C. Czech Amber Lager
Bronze medal to Barranco Beer Company (Lima) for Don Mau

6A. Märzen
Bronze medal to Curaka (Lima)

12A. British Golden Ale
Silver medal to Oveja Negra (Lima) for their Golden Spirit

14C. Scottish Export
Gold medal to Cumbres (Lima) for Roja Scottish Ale

15A. Irish Red Ale
Bronze medal to Besser Bier (Lima) for La Primera

16A. Sweet Stout
Bronze medal to Tempo (Lima) for their Magic Stout

17A. British Strong Ale
Silver medal to Cerveceria Antes de Cristo (Lima) for ¿Cómo Quedas?

20C. Imperial Stout
Gold medal to Cerveceria Barbarian (Lima) for Apagón Imperial Stout

21A. American IPA
Silver medal for 2 Brothers for Capitán 2

22B. American Strong Ale
Bronze medal to Melkim (Arequipa) for their Contigo Perú
Silver Medal to  Sierra Andina (Áncash) for Pachacútec Imperial Ale

24A. Witbier
Bronze medal to Beer Stache (Lima) for Blanche

25B. Saison
Bronze medal to Cervecería del Valle (Cusco) for their Saison de Pachar

26C. Belgian Tripel
Silver medal to Lemaire (Lima) for Premium Triple

28C. Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer
Bronze medal to Psycho Brewery (Lima) for EsquizSourFrenia American Wild Ale

29A. Fruit Beer
Gold medal to Melkim (Arequipa) for Caperucita
Gold medal to Lemaire and Cumbres (Lima) for their collab beer, Inka Champ

31B. Alternative Sugar Beer
Gold medal  to 7 Vidas (Tacna) for their Oxapampa Honey Ale


HOMEBREWERS

1D. American Wheat Beer
Bronze medal to Frank Ponce Vela

20B. American Stout
Bronze medal Ángel Herrera Armas

21B. American IPA
Bronze medal to Juan Carlos Ydrogo


BEST OF SHOW

Inka Champ, a collaboration brew between Lemaire and Cumbres, was voted Best of Show Beer. Inka Champ is a fruited beer made with agaymanto (kapulí), raspberries and blueberries. It is also Peru’s first commercially-released Berliner weisse.

Cerveceria Barbarian was named BOS Brewery, having earned two gold medals.

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