Beer 511

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

Category: Beer Reviews Page 1 of 5

Extra Extra

Extra Extra Double Brut India Pale Ale was one of the beers that I brought back from North Carolina.

It is not made in North Carolina -or maybe it is? Stillwater Artisanal is an itinerant brewing operation. In a variant of the contract-brewing model, Stillwater -headquartered in Baltimore- rents out unutilized brewing and fermentation space from bricks-and-mortar breweries. Stillwater’s brewers then travel to those locations in order to brew, whether it be in the United States or even other countries.

Extra Extra is a pretty beer. It is a beautiful yellow, golden color, with straw notes. It is hazy but not opaque, and not thick or “juicy”-looking. Upon pouring it produces a finger or two of white head, composed of myriads of small bubbles.

In the nose, I got a pleasantly fruital aroma, with notes of white grape, guava and mango. The fruital character continues in the flavour. I addition to more notes of white grape, I got Meyer lemon zest and conifer. It is moderately bitter for an IPA, specially a double IPA.

Though it is not as dry nor as effervescent as other examples -perhaps from being a double- it is still pretty light despite having 8% abv. Very drinkable indeed.

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 with 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.)

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!

Barrel-Fermented Chimay Grande Réserve Ale (2018 Whisky Edition)

In this post I am sharing my impressions of Chimay’s Grande Réserve Ale, Barrel Fermented (2018 Whisky Edition).

To make Grande Réserve Ale, Barrel Fermented (2018 Whisky Edition), Chimay’s brewers took the regular Grande Réserve Ale and put it through a secondary fermentation in a combination of  French oak, American oak, and used whisky barrels. (According to the Chimay website, the ratio was 34% French, 41% American, and 25% whisky.) The unpasteurized and unfiltered beer was then blended, and naturally carbonated in the bottle.  Thus, Chimay says that it is “triple fermented”: in tank, barrel, and bottle.

The result is a limpid, not opaque, dark brown beer with a light to moderate head, and which clocks in at 10.5% abv.

Upon tasting my first impression was of liquorice, and I was thinking rum-soaked raisins, but that’s probably the whiskey.  I definitely got dark raisins, but also prune, black cherry, some vanilla in the background, and a little note of barrel char character at the back end.

As it warms, the flavours round out, specially the liquorice, and the alcohol makes its presence known.

Even though the head was thin and didn’t hang around long, the beer was quite effervescent in the mouth. In body it was malty and pretty smooth, overall, with a dry finish.

I liked it. I did, quite a lot. It is a solid beer, but, honestly, I was not wowed.  I think this is a beer that promised more than it delivered.

That said, it may be worthwhile to pick up another bottle and to hold on to it for a bit to see what the beer will do with another five or six months.

 

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