Beer 511

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

Category: Beer Reviews Page 1 of 6

“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.

Panamá Classic Lager

I’m in Peru! But, along the way, I had a brief layover in Panama, where I picked up a can of Panamá Classic Lager.

Panamá Classic Lager is a 4.4% abv American light lager. As such it had the relative dearth of body, flavor, bitterness and aroma that is typical American light lagers – but it did have more of all of those than, say, Budweiser, which is one of the exemplars of the style. That could be because, unlike many of its American counterparts, Panamá Classic Lager does not contain any rice or other adjunct grains or sugars, being made from only malted barley, hops, yeast, and, of course, water.

The beer was well-made. Being so light in all respects, they style does not allow for any errors. I did not detect any off flavors, and the aluminum packaging prevented any “skunking” from exposure to light.

The beer was indeed refreshing to drink. While that might not mean much in the damp cool of a Lima winter, I imagine would be great in the tropical Panamanian heat. My only complaint is that it had very poor head retention. The foam collapsed almost immediately, which allowed the brew’s already light aroma to dissipate that much faster.

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.

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