Beer 511

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

Category: Beer Reviews (Page 1 of 3)

Cervecería +51 (Lima, Peru)

A few days ago my wife, my cousins, and I headed over to Cervecería +51 in Lima’s Jesús María district.

Cervecería +51 is a small brewpub on a side street not far from Jesús María’s plaza and central market.  It occupies the space vacated by Jaya Brew and there are still a few relics from Jaya in the form of posters, wifi  network  ID, etc.

The space is nicely appointed with tables made from recycled doors, and there are several sets of Jenga™-style blocks for patrons to play with.  The staff is great. Super friendly, helpful, and dedicated to making sure that one has a good experience as a patron.

Currently, +51 (whose name, incidentally –like part of the name of this blog– is derived from the Peru country code) has a line-up of a dozen beers, including a trio of Irish-style beers (lager, red ale, coffee stout).   Not all of them were on tap when we visited, but the missing brews were made up for by guest taps from other Lima craft brewers.

We stuck with the house brews, trying their Imperial Stout (6% abv, 33 IBU), American Pale Ale (5.5%, 33 IBU), ZIA – India Red Ale (6.5%, 44 IBU), IPA (7%, 58 IBU), and the Belgian Pale Ale (5.9%, 26 IBU).

+51 is brand new, having opened its doors only in mid-June, and it is evident that, like many new breweries, they’ve not yet gotten their brewhouse efficiency zeroed in. The result is that some of the beers, while overall good in flavour, do lack a bit in body and mouthfeel. (And, of course, there’s the issue of taking a 6% abv, 33 IBU beer and calling it an imperial stout.)

The Belgian Pale and the IPA were the best of the bunch.  Both of those brews show that +51 has what it takes to produce good beers. There was sufficient “Belgiany” flavour in the first, and a decent hoppiness and good body, with a nice long-lasting head of foam, in the latter. In fact, having tasted the IPA, we ordered a full pitcher of it. And then, a second one!

Time constraints will likely keep me from revisiting +51 during the remaining days of the this trip, but I look forward to getting back there when I next return to Lima.

 

Cervecería +51
Jr. Huamachuco 1479, Jesús María
Lima, Peru

Figueroa Mountain Brewing’s “Lizard’s Mouth” Imperial IPA

 

Figueroa Mountain Brewing is a family-owned craft brewery located in Buellton, CA, with six taprooms along the south-central coast: in Buellton, Arroyo Grande, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara, and Westlake Village.

I was happy to be given the chance to sample some beers by Figueroa Mountain Brewing, who, last week, sent me a couple of bottles for review.

The first of those -which I opened yesterday- is Lizard’s Mouth Imperial India Pale Ale.

My first impression upon pouring Lizard’s Mouth was that this is a pretty beer. Starting with the clear, golden color, an on to that snow-white head.

My bottle was appropriately carbonated, producing steady streams of tiny bubbles rising up through the beer, what people sometimes refer to as “strings of pearls”. Lizard’s Mouth also has good head retention, and plenty long-lasting lacing in the glass as the volume of liquid goes down.

Lizard’s Mouth is full-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel. It has a little bit of warmth -one can tell it is a higher alcohol brew- but doesn’t taste at all “hot” or alcoholic.

As for the hops, they are definitely up near the front in the aroma and taste, but they don’t smack one in the face. Lizard’s Mouth has plenty of malt body and sweetness to balance out the 75 IBUs of hops (Simcoe, Citra, and Centennial, if you must know).

Unlike many American double IPA’s, which are very much hop-forward, Lizard’s Mouth may be better described as malt-forward –of course, maybe that’s why it’s described as an “imperial” and not a “double” IPA.  It tastes malty, with some notes of biscuit, a little toast. There’s notes of citrus in there as well, and tropical fruit — I get guava, passion fruit, maybe some pineapple.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem with a 9% abv brew, as I was finishing my glass of Lizard’s Mouth, it occurred to me that “this a session imperial IPA”! I could have easily drunk another bottle of it, which doesn’t happen a lot with big IPA’s.  I mean, yes, there was a hop flavor and bitterness aftertaste, but my tastebuds didn’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I was able to enjoy a meal immediately thereafter and actually be able to taste something other than hops.

So, Pliny, this isn’t.  Double IPAs of that school are meant to showcase hops. Figueroa Mountain’s Lizard’s Mouth Imperial IPA, on the other hand, was clearly designed to attain a balance.  The result is a beer that is surprisingly easy to drink despite the high hop rate and abv.

Honestly, I liked it a lot.

 

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. (Watsonville, CA)

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. is one of a growing number of breweries ringing the wide half-moon arc of Monterey Bay. Located in a semi-industrial neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Watsonville, it is a surprisingly cozy place given its surroundings.

There are several couches and armchairs arranged between the no-frills bar and the space given over to the 7-bbl brew-house, forming little nooks for patrons to sit at, drink, and talk.  There is clearly a sizeable corps of regulars and most seem to be on a name-basis with the servers. Moreover, the place is decidedly dog-friendly (servers even know the regulars’ dogs by name!).

The vibe is friendly and open.  In fact, I got to chatting with one of the regulars, a former cop named Dave, who, upon learning it was my first time at the brewery, insisted on buying a me few beers, so I could try some beyond the flight I had ordered.

The beers are quite enjoyable. A solid line-up.  Elkhorn Ale, a smooth, copper-colored, 6.7% abv California lager, and Pajaro Gold, a 5.9 ABV ale, seem to be their flagship beers. Both are admittedly nice, but I was drawn more to their selection of wilder brews.

Sucrosity is a “wild farmhouse wheat beer aged in Chardonnay barrels”. It is mildly sweet-tart, with notes of fruit and plum. It  checks in at 6.8% ABV.

Lemon Kush is a  Tequila barrel-aged sour-mashed “wild” lemon gose.  It has ample notes of citrus, with a touch of spice. 6.2% ABV.

My favorite, I’d have to say, was probably Green Jewel.  It is a 7.2%  ABV “barrel-aged wild sour blonde ale with Cannabis terpennes”.  Green Jewel is golden in color, light-bodied, with a mild tartness.

 

 

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co.
65 Hangar Way, Unit D
Watsonville, CA

elkhornsloughbrew.com

Drake’s Aroma Coma 2x IPA

In July, San Leandro’s Drake’s  Brewing Company released their latest edition of Aroma Coma IPA.  The company sent me a sample bottle, along with a nifty branded glass to drink it in, which I found waiting for me upon my return from Peru.

The 2017 Aroma Coma is double IPA.  The brewery press release indicates that they have added more Citra hops and more rye malt and light caramel malt. The ABV has also been bumped up to 8.0%.

I found Aroma Coma 2x IPA to be intensely hoppy –as befits a double IPA– with citrus notes, particularly grapefruit and a touch of orange. It is malty, which helps balance the hoppiness.  It is a big beer, but not over-the-top in any regard, and is easy to drink. I’ve gotta say, I found it altogether pleasant and a lovely way to treat myself after the workday.

 

Tasty IPA

A little over a week ago 21st Amendment Brewery in San Leandro (CA) released the latest in its “Insurrection” series, an IPA brewed in collaboration with and named after homebrewer Mike McDole, aka “Tasty”.

As explained in the brewery’s press release:

At one point, Mike “Tasty” McDole was just a mild-mannered home brewer who stumbled into the universe of The Brewing Network, the premier multimedia website for brewers and beer lovers. A regular on the Network’s “Session” show, Tasty gained notoriety with advice to listeners that was 50% informative, 35% conversation and the remainder too inappropriate for this paragraph.

Today, Tasty’s legendary status among the craft beer community is trademarked by his award-winning home brew recipes and his signature caricature sticker, which you’ll find affixed at nearly every good beer place around the country. And so with great pleasure, and McDole’s personal sticker of approval, 21st Amendment Brewery presents a delicious collaboration, Tasty IPA, a beer that is rooted in friendship, created for the common love of home brewing and dedicated to the American beer beauty known as Tasty McDole.

Tasty is, of course, a regular at The Hop Grenade tap room and bottle shop in Concord, which is also home to the Brewing Network’s studio.   As it happens, Mike is also a longtime member of my homebrew club, the Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts (DOZE), and a friend of mine.  A bunch of us DOZErs met him at the Hop Grenade on Monday night for Tasty IPA’s premiere on draught outside the brewery itself.

Tasty IPA is a 6.8% ABV, straw-colored IPA hopped with CTZ in the boil, and dry-hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Ekuanot lupulin powder.  The aroma is crisp, with some citrus and pine, while there is some pine and fruits in the flavor.

The word “balanced” maybe gets overused, but in this case its use is warranted I think. Even though Tasty IPA clocks in at 70 IBUs, one would’d never guess it.  The hops don’t smack one in the face.  There is a pronounced bitterness, to be sure, but it plays nicely off the maltiness of the brew. It goes down really easily, believe me.

Tasty IPA is a really nice beer, and a fitting tribute to its namesake.

 

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