Beer 511

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

Author: juan Page 1 of 21

Saxy Machismo

On a recent visit from North Carolina, my daughter brought me a few bottles of beer from that state.

When I had visited her there a few years ago, a brewery I had been eager to try out was Haw River Farmhouse Ales. The brewery is located in Saxapahaw, on the shores of the Haw River, about half an hour west of Chapel Hill. Unfortunately, my travel schedule and the brewery’s limited tap room hours impeded a visit.

My daughter recalled my interest, and made sure that one of the bottles she brought was from Haw River: a 17-oz. bottle of 2018-vintage Saxy Machismo, a bourbon barrel-aged smoked quadrupel ale, brewed guajillo and habanero chiles.

Saxy Machismo is a 12.2% abv ale, with a dark cola hue; somewhere in the range of 25 SRM, perhaps a point or two higher than that. It is mildly carbonated, and produced no head upon decanting.

Of course, the first thing that hits one when tasting is the aroma of smoke and chiles.The same can be said for the flavour.

There is a moderate hop bitterness, but it’s in the background. I also detected some vanilla, a little bourbon, and notes of stone fruit –apricot, dark cherry. However, the smoke and the peppers are definitely the stars in this beer.

The smoke hangs around in the aftertaste. There is also a very, very slight pepper spiciness, but surprisingly little. Certainly, far less than one would expect, making this a much more approachable beer than one might think would be the case given the description of ingredients. (Though I don’t mind a bit of spice in a big, dark beer!)

With time, the smoke becomes less prominent and the fruital flavors come forward a bit more. As it warms in the glass the beer’s residual malt sweetness also becomes more evident.

That makes Saxy Machismo a good sipping beer. Take your time with it and your palate will be rewarded with an evolving experience between the first sip and the last.

Lupulager by Barranco Beer

My wife recently returned from Lima and she brought me back two cans of beer from the Barranco Beer Company.

Barranco Beer Company introduced canning to the Peruvian craft beer industry with a couple of releases last year in time for the soccer World Cup and Peru’s Independence Day holiday. They have since expanded canning to almost their entire line of regular brews.

Of the two I received, I’ve so far tried the can of Lupulager.

Luplager is a dry-hopped beer fermented with lager yeast at “low fermentation temperatures”. It comes in at 38 IBU and 5% abv.

Lupulager is an example of a developing style that in the US we would call an “India Pale Lager”. It won a silver medal in the “Specialty IPA” category at the Copa Latinoamericana de Cervezas Artesanales (Latin American Craft Beer Cup) held in Lima in February 2018.

Upon pouring, the beer produced a big, rocky, long-lasting head with lots of lacing. The brew itself was golden and clear, with a bit of what I took to be chill haze. As befits the name, it is somewhat more bitter than “standard” lagers.

It finishes with a note of straw or hay, followed by a sharp, lingering hop bitternes. The flavors smoothed out as time passed and the beer off-gassed and warmed up in the glass.

Overall, I liked it almost as much in the can as I did on tap at the brewery.

(Just for reference, my can was packaged on November 19th, 2018, and I drank it a week before its “best by” date in February.)

Continuing SF Beer Week …

Jester King flight with cheese pairing at Øl Beer Cafe and Bottle Shop, in Walnut Creek (CA) on Sunday.

San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala

On Friday night I attended the San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala for the first time, courtesy of the Bay Area Craft Brewers Guild, and the first descriptor that comes to mind is “Wow!”

With nearly 130 breweries represented, and almost 400 beers on offer, the Gala is an amazing experience. As very brewery brings their best beers, many of them brewed specially for Beer Week, the event is truly a showcase not only of the breadth of the Bay Area’s craft brewing community, but of the quality and skills that make it a leading force in craft brewing nationally.

I was, of course, happy to find my friends Luis Castro, owner and brewer at Del Cielo Brewing Company, and Matt Sager, head brewer at Danville Brewing Company, pouring their beers side by side. Another friend, Craig Danielson, head brewer at Shadow Puppet Brewing Company, was also nearby.

Luis was pouring one of the IPAs that he makes so well, along with Guava Dreams, a kettle sour, and Coffee State, a coffee-infused blonde stout.

Matt was pouring three beers that I really like a lot: his GABF medal-winning Chux double IPA, Tres Diablos, a triple IPA brewed specifically for Beer Week, and his amazing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. I swear that that one tastes just like the oatmeal raisin cookies my mom used to make!

Craig, for his part, shared Livermorium, a really nice collaboration IPA produced at Shadow Puppet by brewers from all the breweries in Livermore.

Although all the big-name players in Northern California craft brewing were, of course, represented, and I did sample some very tasty beers from them, after a while I opted for hitting the booths of smaller breweries and ones I was unfamiliar with.

That strategy led to some pleasant highlights.

One such was finding Blue Oak Brewing Co., from San Carlos, present and serving their excellent Cordilleras Kriek.

A nice discovery was Ocean View Brew Works in Albany. They’re a fairly new brewery, and were having a great time at the Gala. They poured me a very tasty brut IPA, Mosaic Fizz. The brewery’s first anniversary will be celebrated with an event on Feb. 10th.

Another pleasant discovery was Woodfour Brewing Company, from Sebastopol. Woodfour was pouring bottles of their Sour Farmhouse Ale. John Roberts, the brewery’s Bay Area sales manager, explained that the beer is produced via spontaneous fermentation in oak barrels that are not isolated from the external environment, and then blended in what he described as a “reverse solera” method. He also pointed out that they are producing other beers in open-topped wood foeders, and are the only brewery in the region that practices spontaneous open fermentation year-round.

All in all, having attended, it amply clear why the Gala is one of the most anticipated beer events in the local beer calendar and why people come in from all over the country to attend it and SF Beer Week.


Barihuait Barley Wine by Nuevo Mundo (Lima, Peru)

A few days ago I popped open a bottle of Barihuait Barley Wine that I had brought back from Lima five months ago and carefully stowed in my fridge.

The beer held up pretty well. It presented with a low hop aroma and was initially quite effervescent, with a head that dissipated quickly. There was some lacing but it fell almost immediately.

The brew was malty and a little sweet, with sharp bitterness and pronounced hop flavor evident with first draught. There were also some pleasant fruit and caramel notes in there. It had pleasantly bitter finish that hung around for a bit on the palate.

The beer improved as it warmed (I’d had it stored at 47°F) and some of the effervescence dissipated. The flavor seemed fuller, and rounder at the warmer temperatures.

Being a barley wine Barihuait comes in high in both abv and ibu – 9.5% and 60, respectively. It is brewed by Cerveceria Nuevo Mundo, in Lima’s Surquillo district. It was one of the first Peruvian craft beers I encountered a few years ago and remains one of my favorites.

The name, incidentally, came about by happenstance, as once explained to me by Alain, one of the French partners who started the brewery (he’s since moved on to focus on his other business, high-end chocolates). When explaining the style to Peruvian friends, he said, one of them exclaimed that “barley wine” sounded like “Bari Huait” –Barry White, said phonetically in Spanish– and the name stuck!

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