Beer 511

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

Category: Breweries (Page 1 of 7)

Cervecería +51 (Lima, Peru)

A few days ago my wife, my cousins, and I headed over to Cervecería +51 in Lima’s Jesús María district.

Cervecería +51 is a small brewpub on a side street not far from Jesús María’s plaza and central market.  It occupies the space vacated by Jaya Brew and there are still a few relics from Jaya in the form of posters, wifi  network  ID, etc.

The space is nicely appointed with tables made from recycled doors, and there are several sets of Jenga™-style blocks for patrons to play with.  The staff is great. Super friendly, helpful, and dedicated to making sure that one has a good experience as a patron.

Currently, +51 (whose name, incidentally –like part of the name of this blog– is derived from the Peru country code) has a line-up of a dozen beers, including a trio of Irish-style beers (lager, red ale, coffee stout).   Not all of them were on tap when we visited, but the missing brews were made up for by guest taps from other Lima craft brewers.

We stuck with the house brews, trying their Imperial Stout (6% abv, 33 IBU), American Pale Ale (5.5%, 33 IBU), ZIA – India Red Ale (6.5%, 44 IBU), IPA (7%, 58 IBU), and the Belgian Pale Ale (5.9%, 26 IBU).

+51 is brand new, having opened its doors only in mid-June, and it is evident that, like many new breweries, they’ve not yet gotten their brewhouse efficiency zeroed in. The result is that some of the beers, while overall good in flavour, do lack a bit in body and mouthfeel. (And, of course, there’s the issue of taking a 6% abv, 33 IBU beer and calling it an imperial stout.)

The Belgian Pale and the IPA were the best of the bunch.  Both of those brews show that +51 has what it takes to produce good beers. There was sufficient “Belgiany” flavour in the first, and a decent hoppiness and good body, with a nice long-lasting head of foam, in the latter. In fact, having tasted the IPA, we ordered a full pitcher of it. And then, a second one!

Time constraints will likely keep me from revisiting +51 during the remaining days of the this trip, but I look forward to getting back there when I next return to Lima.

 

Cervecería +51
Jr. Huamachuco 1479, Jesús María
Lima, Peru

Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo (Ayacucho, Peru)

This past weekend I traveled from Lima to the city of Ayacucho (aka Huamanga), where my family is originally from, on my dad’s side. There, I had a great time meeting Richy Ledesma, a craft brewer whom I’d been in contact with on FaceBook and who is also friends with a couple of my cousins.

Richy received me at his place, Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo, and plied me with beers as we spent the evening talking about craft beer and other subjects.

Entirely self-taught, Richy is one of only two craft brewers in Ayacucho, a city 363 road miles from Lima and 9,000 feet up in the Andes.  He produces four or five batches a week on a 100-liter system, which he mainly distributes in bottles, which he fills by hand and carbonates with priming sugar.

In the evenings he opens his little taproom, which is located in a fourth floor walk-up space in downtown, and dispenses beer from his two-tap draft system.

The relative isolation means that everything that goes into a beer but the water, has to be imported. Once to Peru, and thence from Lima to Huamanga. It also means that Richy is fighting against a lack of popular knowledge about beer styles and about hand-crafted beer.

Further, it also means that Richy does not have easy access to examples of the styles he wishes to brew nor to a support community of fellow brewers.  One result of that is that some of El Oráculo’s beers are not quite consistent with what we, in the US, would consider the standard for those beers –for example, Punana Porter falls a bit shy when it comes to body  and mouthfeel.

Richy, however, is undaunted and by dint of hard work in what is essentially a one-man operation, he is opening doors for his brews in town and elsewhere.  His beers are even poured at events and festivals as far away as Lima.

El Oráculo’s tastiest beers are, by far, Judas and La Vidente.

Judas is a 7.5% abv, 30 IBU, 13 SRM, smooth pale ale with a lovely white head.  I didn’t take any notes, so I’m going from memory here, but I believe Richy said that he used Columbus and Kent Goldings hops in this one.

La Vidente is El Oráculo’s biggest beer, coming in at 13% abv.  One wouldn’t know it, though, when drinking it. It has a bit of warmth, but is not “hot” with alcohol. Rather, tropical fruit notes predominate in the mouth and nose.

If you like craft beer and supporting small independent enterprises, El Oráculo is well worth checking out should you find yourself in Ayacucho.

 

 

Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo
Calle Nazareno, 2do Pasaje #133
Ayacucho, Peru

www.facebook.com/CerveceriaArtesanalElOraculo/

Jester King Brewery (Austin, TX)

A brewery whose beers I’ve admired for a while is Jester King Brewing.  I knew, from experience, that they produced some seriously interesting and experimental beers, but until I went there I did not fully grasp how special Jester King is.

Located in the Texas Hill Country, on the outskirts of Austin, Jester King sits on 58 acres of ranchland.   The portion surrounding the brewery has been turned into a very pleasant beer garden.  Adjacent to them there is a pizza restaurant that also serves beer –and, of course, one can bring one’s beer down to the pizza place, and the pizza up to the brewery’s beer garden.

Jester King is committed to infusing as much of the Texas Hill Country terroir into their beers as they can.    Water is drawn from an on-site well, and the barrel house was once the site’s dairy barn. Even the large corrugated metal building that houses the 30-bbl brewhouse is recycled. It was located on a farm in southern Texas, dismantled, and reassembled on Jester King’s property.

Most of the parcel, naturally, is open space and provides the native environment in which the wild yeasts that Jester King relies on naturally thrive and propagate.

In the cool months, wort is pumped into a copper coolship in the barrel house’s second story loft. The windows are left open to the cool night air and the area’s natural wild “bugs” allowed to settle on to the wort.

The wort then racked into barrels and foeders, where it spends from a few months to a several years fermenting and maturing.

Averie Swanson, head brewer (and now part owner) of Jester King, who led our tour, explained that while they have to reject about one in ten barrels because they developed off flavors, most of the time patience is the key, recognizing that different micro-organisms do their thing at different rates and stages of the fermentation, and just giving them time to clean up a beer.

Interestingly, she also noted that whenever they send samples off for analysis, the labs return a list of a couple dozen micro-organisms that they recognize and note the presence of “about 100 more” that they’ve never seen before.

On part of the land, the brewery has planted grape vines, the fruits of which will be used to infuse new and interesting character into beers.  In order to increase the locality of the flora they will contribute, and in a gesture toward “closing the circle”, the spot where each vine was to be planted was first innoculated with microflora from brewery.

About the only thing that regularly goes into Jester King brews that doesn’t come from Texas is the hops.  Hops just don’t do well in the heat and shorter days of Texas.  Now, Jester King is experimenting with growing hops, hoping to find a variety that will grow well-enough there to be usable, but until they  find it they are reliant on hops from the Pacific Northwest. However, to infuse “as much Texas Hill Country character as possible” into them, the hops cones are placed in burlap sacks and stored for a year or so in the rafters of a horse barn just down the road.

The result of all that is not only some pretty fantastic, if funky, beers, but also beers –such as Wanderflora, Abcission, or the SPON series– that are redolent with a sense of place. This place.

 

 

Jester King Brewery
13187 Fitzhugh Rd
Austin, TX

jesterkingbrewery.com

The ABGB (Austin, TX)

An article in this month’s Zymurgy magazine -the journal of the American Homebrewers Association- featuring an interview with Brian Peters, the owner and brewer at the Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. reminded me that I hadn’t posted anything relating to my recent visit to Austin.  (I been trying to post at least every two weeks, but clearly, I’m failing at that.)

Knowing my predilection for beer and brewing, my friends, Michelle and Dan, suggested we met at Austin Beer Garden Brewing, known locally as The ABGB.

Located just south of downtown, the ABGB occupies a large warehouse-type space. One side is given to the bar and taps, while one of the ends holds a stage for live music on the weekends. The brewing and fermenting gear peeks out from behind both.  The public space is filled with long communal tables, making for a friendly space. However, it is with the outside seating that the ABGB really earns it’s moniker.

Thanks to Austin’s warm weather, one can sit at the outside tables long into the evening, under the strings of Edison lights.   The ABGB serves some rather nice pizza, and of course the beer can be ordered by the pitcher to go with the pies.

How’s the beer?  Actually, pretty good. It’s no wonder that the ABGB is one of Austin’s prime beer spots.

I am not sure what we had with the pizza, as it was not I doing the ordering, but as I waited for Michelle and Dan to arrive I did sample a glass of “YSB [You’ll See, Baby] #5: Fiona”.  Fiona is a mild apple sour first released in 2015.  It must have proved popular for it to be still be on tap in early 2018. As I made a note of at the time, Fiona is “Crisp, dry, apple. Tart. I like!”

So, if you should find yourself with time to kill in Austin, the ABGB is well-worth checking out.

 

ABGB
1305 W. Oltorf
Austin, TX

theabgb.com

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. (Watsonville, CA)

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. is one of a growing number of breweries ringing the wide half-moon arc of Monterey Bay. Located in a semi-industrial neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Watsonville, it is a surprisingly cozy place given its surroundings.

There are several couches and armchairs arranged between the no-frills bar and the space given over to the 7-bbl brew-house, forming little nooks for patrons to sit at, drink, and talk.  There is clearly a sizeable corps of regulars and most seem to be on a name-basis with the servers. Moreover, the place is decidedly dog-friendly (servers even know the regulars’ dogs by name!).

The vibe is friendly and open.  In fact, I got to chatting with one of the regulars, a former cop named Dave, who, upon learning it was my first time at the brewery, insisted on buying a me few beers, so I could try some beyond the flight I had ordered.

The beers are quite enjoyable. A solid line-up.  Elkhorn Ale, a smooth, copper-colored, 6.7% abv California lager, and Pajaro Gold, a 5.9 ABV ale, seem to be their flagship beers. Both are admittedly nice, but I was drawn more to their selection of wilder brews.

Sucrosity is a “wild farmhouse wheat beer aged in Chardonnay barrels”. It is mildly sweet-tart, with notes of fruit and plum. It  checks in at 6.8% ABV.

Lemon Kush is a  Tequila barrel-aged sour-mashed “wild” lemon gose.  It has ample notes of citrus, with a touch of spice. 6.2% ABV.

My favorite, I’d have to say, was probably Green Jewel.  It is a 7.2%  ABV “barrel-aged wild sour blonde ale with Cannabis terpennes”.  Green Jewel is golden in color, light-bodied, with a mild tartness.

 

 

Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co.
65 Hangar Way, Unit D
Watsonville, CA

elkhornsloughbrew.com

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