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

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.

 

Barrel-Aged 2017 Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing (2018 Release)

At the end of November, courtesy of the brewery, I attended the release of Anchor Brewing’s Barrel-Aged 2017 Christmas Ale at an event held in the Brewery’s tap room and brewhouse on Potrero Hill in San Francisco.

The event included small bites, and a vertical flight of four years’ of Anchor Christmas Ale – 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018- in addition to a taster of the featured barrel-aged beer. (It was crowded so I didn’t get to try the 2018, but the 2017 and 2016 aged well. The 2015, not so much.)

I did make sure to try the barrel-aged release, and I came away with a couple of bottles of it; one of which I have opened and am drinking tonight.

The Barrel Aged 2017 Christmas Ale was created by aging the 2017 Christmas Ale in bourbon, red wine, and brandy barrels, and then blending them. It has 10.3% abv and 30 IBU  (the original, unaged, version had 6.7% abv and 40 IBU).

It is a dark ale. Dark, dark brown, almost like a really dark cola, but with a hint of green to it.

It smells smooth, not alcoholey -which is a good sign, considering that it is pretty high in alcohol.  There is a bit of dried fruit in the nose, a bit of aroma of fried bananas.

It is malty, and a bit sweet, with flavors of vanilla, raisins, dark cherries, red wine, maybe a bit of port. There is just a hint of roastiness and barrel char.  Hop bitternes is quite moderate, with a slight note of evergreen.

As the beer warms,  some of the vinous character dissipates, and a bit of dried apricot starts to show up.

It is very pleasant. It has good body but is not too heavy; not cloying at all. It goes down smoothly, and is pleasantly warming. A good choice for this cold winter’s eve.

 

Blue Oak Brewing Co. (San Carlos, CA)

I found Blue Oak Brewing more or less by happenstance.  Liz and I were at the south end of the SF Peninsula, and having finished an errand, we decided to treat me to a beer before making the long trip back home.  We turned to the AHA‘s Brew Guru app and it led us to Blue Oak.

Blue Oak Brewing is the brainchild of Alex Porter, who is the owner, brewer, and (when we were there) bartender.  He opened the brewery almost two years ago. Most of that time, I surmise, it was sharing space with the cidery nextdoor, but in September, Porter expanded into a larger adjacent space and made it into the current taproom.

The space is set up on an open floor plan, appointed with tables and barrels to sit at, in addition to the bar, with a trio of fermenters tucked into one corner.

As for the beers, Porter’s got a good mix of IPAs, Belgians, kettle sours, and fruited beers on tap.  When I was there this weekend there were twelve beers on tap. Not bad for what seems to be essentially a one-man operation on a 7-bbl brewhouse.

I opted for a flight of Cordilleras Kriek, Brother Joshua, Junipero Citra, and Ginny and the Giant Peach.

The Cordilleras Kriek (5% abv, 2 IBU) had a nice sourness with plenty of cherry flavor. It was little sweet in the mouth, but finished surprisingly dry at the back end. It was my favorite by far. I would’ve taken home a crowler of it, but it’s only served by the glass.

Junipero Citra (5.6%, 25 IBU) is a saison brewed with juniper berries and coriander, and dry-hopped with Citra hops. It tasted piney and citrusy, and was quite effervescent. I did take home a crowler of this one!

Brother Joshua (7%, 18 IBU) is a nice, dry, Belgian dubbel. Quite enjoyable.

The only one of the set, that was a bit of a disappointment was Ginny and the Giant Peach. It is 6% abv kettle sour fermented with white peaches. It was nicely sour, but the peach flavor was not very strong and it was also somehow hollow, like it dried out too much. There was a nice funkiness to it, though.

It just goes to show that, although San Francisco and the East Bay tend to get a lot of the buzz, there are other corners of the Bay Area brewing scene that are well worth exploring .

 

 

Blue Oak Brewing Co.
815 Cherry Lane
San Carlos, CA 94070

www.blueoakbrewing.com

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