Beer 511

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

Category: Beer Reviews (Page 2 of 3)

Beer Review: Two Evil Pachamama Porter

In September, I reviewed Muy Malvada Porter, a collaboration brew between Lima’s Cerveceria Barbarian, and the Two Roads and Evil Twin breweries.

Muy Malvada was the test brew for a beer which was to be brewed and released in the US this Fall or Winter by Two Roads and Evil Twin. That beer, which is available now, is Two Evil Pachamama Porter.

According to the blurb on the can, Pachamama Porter was created after a trek to Peru. In Andean cosmology the life-giving Earth is known as Pachamama, literally, “Mother Earth”. The brewers felt that, “since our ingredients were provided by Mother Earth,” they would name the beer after her. (Unfortunately, the trade name “Pachamama” was already trademarked in Peru, so the Peruvian version bore a different name.) and that it would be made “using local ingredients.” Pachamama Porter is brewed with sweet potato, and Peruvian panca chiles and purple corn.

The Peruvian version was brewed using jora, the malted corn that is used to make traditional chicha corn brew, however, in Pachamama Porter, Two Roads and Evil Twin have substituted it with the purple corn used in making the non-alcoholic drink chicha morada. It might have been a flavor preference on the part of the brewers, but I suspect it was due to the relatively easier and cheaper access to Peruvian purple corn over jora in the US.

Pachamama Porter has the deep brown color that is the hallmark of a porter, and plenty of body. There is a very pleasant earthiness, doubtlessly imparted by the panca chiles, and a very slight pepper note at the back end, and a light sweetness. It is a complex and very tasty beer.

It clocks in at 6.5% abv, and although it lists no other specs on the can (nor on Two Roads’ website), Muy Malvada came in at 20 IBUs, so it may be safe to surmise Pachamama has a similar amount.

I’m quite glad to have found it.

Review: Drake’s 2016 Jolly Rodger “Translatlantic Winter Warmer”


In mid November, Drake’s Brewing Co., in San Leandro (CA), released its 2016 edition of their Jolly Rodger Ale, and I was lucky enough to be sent a sample bottle.
For over two decades, Drake’s has held to their tradition of brewing a totally new beer every year for Jolly Rodger. This year’s version –which should be available through January– is described as a “Transatlantic Winter Warmer.”  It is made with the addition of dark candi sugar and a Belgian ale yeast, which account, I suppose for the “trans-Atlantic” part.
In the glass, the 2016 Jolly Rodger Ale is a lovely-looking beer. Dark copper-colored, almost red -thanks, to a great extent, I expect, to the candi sugar.  The head is not long-lasting, but the beer is nicely carbonated, even effervescent upon first tasting.
It is malty, and spicy –not in a pumpkin pie-kind of way, but to my mind, more reminiscent of ginger bread or spice cake— but not overpoweringly so.  The Belgian yest character is evident right up front, as is the candi sugar, but in the background there are notes of dried fruits –maybe of  dark cherries, maybe of prunes or raisins.

Both, in terms of flavor, and of alcohol (10% abv), it is indeed a warmer, but it is not a heavy beer.  With how cold it is tonight, I’m indeed glad I decided to pop open the bottle..

Further stats:  31 IBU | 10.0% ABV | 21.0° Plato O.G. | 4.5° Plato F.G.

Beer Review: Muy Malvada Peruvian Porter

Muy Malvada Peruvian Porter -whose name literally translates to “very evil one”, but could be read as “very naughty one”- is a collaboration beer brewed by Lima’s Cerveceria Barbarian, in conjuntion with Two Roads Brewing, out of Stratford, CT, and Evil Twin Brewing, with HQ in Brookly, NY.

Muy Malvada is brewed with jora, sweet potato, and aji panca. Jora is the germinated corn that is also used to make the Andes’ traditional corn beer, chicha. Aji panca is a variety of chile pepper, specifically a variety of Capsicum baccatum, which is a staple of Peruvian cuisine. It has little to no heat, and mostly adds a bit of red tint and deep pepper flavour to dishes.

In Muy Malvada the pepper flavour is evident in the background, as a very, very tiny spiciness at the back end. Much more mild, in fact, that I’ve tasted in the US in beers brewed with ancho or chipotle chiles.

As porters go, Muy Malvada is actually quite nice, and coming in at 6.5% abv and 20 IBU, it is falls quite nicely within the definition of porter. Although it is more like an American porter than its British counterpart, the panca and perhaps the sweetness imparted by the sweet potato, do set it a bit apart.

I really liked this beer, and when I met one of the owners of Barbarian, Diego Rodriguez, I made it a point to ask about it and its genesis.

Diego explained that it came about as a joint project with the other two breweries, and the specialty ingredients were selected as a way of making the beer a Peruvian porter. I would say that they succeeded in giving it a local character. (In fact, when I read Stan Hieronymous’ recently-published book, Brewing Local, this beer is one that kept coming to mind as a successful example of a beer with an evocation of place.)

Now, I grant you that this review comes a bit late, given that I was in Lima in July, but as Diego Rodriguez explained, the plan was that Evil Twin and Two Roads, and perhaps a rep from Barbarian, would rebrew the beer in the USA this Fall.

In the USA it is set to be marketed as Pachamama Porter (they had intended for that to be the name in Peru as well, but “Pachamama” was already registered to another brewery).

I have not seen any references to it on either Evil Twin’s or Two Roads’ websites or FB feeds, but if you live on the east coast or have access to their beers through a distributor, bar, or bottle shop, keep your eye out for this one. I think you won’t be disappointed.

“Estonya” Whiskey Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter

Recently, 10 Barrel Brewing has started a series of specialty, limited-release beers. These special beers will be hand-bottled and released roughly four to five times each year to select bottle shops in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Idaho, as well as through 10 Barrel’s pubs in Bend, Boise, and Portland.

The first off the line is Estonya, a Baltic-inspired imperial (11.9% ABV) porter crafted by 10 Barrel’s head Bend brewer, Tonya Cornett, who aged it in Blanton’s Bourbon barrels from West Virginia.

The brewery describes it as having “strong whiskey characteristics with notes of vanilla, milk chocolate, figs, and caramel,” and intended to be cellared or drunk now, perhaps as a dessert beer or as a treat on its own.
Photo courtesy of 10 Barrel Brewing

Well, today I popped open a bottle of Estonya that was sent to me by 10 Barrel Brewing for review. (I’ve  got to point out that while the wax seal is a nice touch, aesthetically, it is a pain in the butt when it comes to uncapping the bottle!)

In the glass, Estonya is dark. Very dark, almost black. It does have a slight reddish undertone that sets apart from a stout in appearance.

It is a very satisfying draught, I must say. The nose is not heady, despite the high gravity.  I did not detect any outstanding alcoholic esters. What there is there is moderate and pleasant, and there is no alcoholic heat in the mouth (they do come in a bit as the beer warms.)

I certainly detected notes of figs and vanilla, but also a hint of dark cherries.  It is a bit sweet, in a way reminiscent of a milk stout.  It is smooth and round in the same way, as well, in terms of mouthfeel.

The brewery recommends Estonya with sweet dessert, but I think that as soon as I finish writing this, I’m going to cut a slice of Point Reyes Blue cheese to pair with it. I think it’ll be a good match.

In sum, I like it! And I’m already thinking “where can I get another bottle?”

Hard Frescos

Hard Frescos are a relatively new item, having been on the market for about a year.  They are the brain-child of Peter Stearns, from Santa Barbara, who worked for two years with experts at UC Davis to develop a way of making an alcoholic drink using pretty much only the ingredients that would go into Mexican aguas frescas, which were his inspiration.

Now, a “serious” beer drinker might well look at these and decide that they have no relation to beer, and that’s a fair point. However, as they are brewed using fruit and then fermented using an ale or a lager yeast, depending on the batch, they have as much a relation to beer as a cider or a mead. In any case, the federal government has required the company to include some barley malt in all the recipes so they can class Hard Frescos as a “malt beverage.”

I happened to met Stearns at the Hard Frescos booth at the recent Bay Area Craft Brew Festival, and he sent me home with some samples. Well, I’ve tried every one of what he gave me and I’ve got to say that I do like them.

The three flavors I sampled were “Citrico” -made with citrus-, “Tangy Tamarindo” -made with tamarind-, and “Juicy Jamaica” -made with hibiscus blossoms. Of the three (there is also a fourth flavor: “Cola Buena”), I by far preferred the “Citrico” (so glad he gave two of those!), followed by the “Tangy Tamarindo.”

Served cold, Hard Frescos are easy to drink and refreshing. All of the flavors contain around 5% ABV, but what comes through most brightly is the fruit used in their preparation. The adjectives that most come to mind are fun and friendly.

As they are a bit removed from the Belgian and farmhouse ales that I tend to prefer, I’m not sure that I’d stock them in my fridge –although they do hold out the promise of some interesting cocktails– but I’d happily order a Hard Frescos at a restaurant or taco truck.

They would certainly hit the spot as a “grown up” alternative any time one might reach for a Jarritos or a Peñafiel.

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