Beer 511

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

Category: Beer Reviews Page 2 of 6

“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.

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.)

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