Beer 511

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

Category: Peru Beer (Page 1 of 3)

A bit of Peru beer history

This is an image that I came across online.  It’s an early advertising poster from the Backus & Johnston Brewery Company in Lima, from back when telephone numbers in the city could be counted in the double-digits.

The poster remarks that the brewery -which started as an ice company- possessed a “magnificent” ice facility imported from the U.S.A., and that it’s beer-making equipment was “the best and largest in South America.”

Most notable, however, from a consumer standpoint is the variety of beers made by Backus & Johnston back then: Pilsen, export, lager, märzen, stout, and a dark beer labeled “Gato Negro” (black cat).

Decades later, their production had grown massively, and the company itself had expanded into a near brewing monopoly -the Unión de Cerverías Peruanas Backus & Johnston- having absorbed other breweries throughout the country.   At the same time, despite the expansion in the number of the company’s brands and volume, the beer variety shrank. By the turn of the century the only ones that had survived were the pale lager and a dark lager.

In the past decade, however, the company has started to break out of that straight jacket, albeit cautiously.  It has used its Cusqueña brand to float a few “special” beers: Cusqueña Trigo (pale lager made with a percentage of wheat), Cusqueña Quinoa (made, obviously, with some quinoa), and Cusqueña Red Lager.  It has also dipped its toe into the “top shelf” market with Abraxas, a beer it describes as a “super premium” and sells for 400% of the price point of its regular beers.

Arequipa’s “Cerveceria Alemana”

Another piece of brewing memorabilia that I recently acquired is a 111-year old cancelled invoice from the Cervecería Alemana (lit. “German Brewery”), which was located in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa.

The attached voucher is dated 23 August of 1905, and is for 1 dozen bottles of Märzen beer, 1 dozen bottles of Pilsner beer, and the deposit on two dozen bottles. The voucher was issued by Donato Lister, and was made out to José S. Monje.

The cancelled invoice itself is dated 31 August 1905. The price for the beer is listed as s/. 6.40 and the price for “2 dozen boxed bottles” is s/. 5.60, but either through a math error or giving a customer a break, the price charged to Mr. Monje was just s/. 10.

The Cervecería Alemana was one of Peru’s earliest large-scale breweries. It was established in 1898 by Ernesto -or Ernst- Gunther, a German immigrant, recently arrived from Bolivia.

When Gunther and and his business partner, Franz Rehder, opened the Cervecería Alemana there were several other small breweries in Arequipa: Cervecería Germania, Cervecería Arequipa, Cervecería Gambrinus, Cervecería Teutonia, Cervecería Francesa, and one other.

The brewery was originally located on Mercaderes street, but in 1900 Gunther travelled to Germany, returned with new German equipment, and moved the expanding brewery to 177 Calle de La Merced, into the plant of the closed Cervecería Francesa. The Cervecería Alemana soon outpaced competitors, and in 1908 a second brewery was established in Cuzco.

The Cervecería Alemana was renamed Companía Cervecera del Sur, S.A., in 1935, and consolidated as the CERVESUR corporation in 1954. For years it dominated the beer market in southern Peru, with its two flagship brands: Cerveza Arequipeña and Cerveza Cusqueña.

The company was finally acquired by the Union de Cervecerías Backus & Johnston brewing empire in 2000. However, both, Arequipeña and Cusqueña continue to be made, and the latter can sometimes be found in US markets.

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.

Barranco Beer Company (Lima, Peru)

 

 

Opened in 2014, Barranco Beer Company’s brewpub has been a resounding success.  From selling 50 liters of beer on their first night, beer sales are now in the range of 20 bbl per month, with weekend sales reaching s/. 7000, according to Rommel, one of the managers

 

The initial lineup of beers has been expanded and refined.   Some favorites, like the “Presidente” heffeweizen” –renamed” Jefe Weiss”– have been retained, others -like the dunkel– have been dropped.   In their place are new recipes for pale ales, IPA, and lagers.
Two years ago I lamented the absence of “heavier”, “chewier” beers in their lineup.  I must not have been the only one asking for them, as Barranco now offers at least one porter and has just released “Saca Tu Machete”, an excellent 8.7% abv / 42 IBU imperial stout made with aji limo, cacao, and algarrobina.

 

 

 

Another beer that is worth mentioning, and one I hope they make part of their regular lineup, even if only seasonally, is the Pepino Punch saison.  Made with pepino fruit, Pepino Punch is easily one of the best fruited beers I’ve ever tasted.

Barranco Beer Company
Av Almirante Miguel Grau 308
Barranco, Lima
Peru

www.barrancobeer.com

BarBarian (Lima, Peru)

Lima’s newest addition to the growing Peruvian craft beer scene is Cerveceria Barbarian’s taproom in Miraflores: BarBarian.
Located half a block from Miraflores’ main park, on Calle Bonilla, BarBarian taproom has been open only since March, and already it is a popular, standing-room-only, joint late into a Friday night.  It has a friendly, open atmosphere, and the back portion is dominated by a colorful mural and a wall display of several hundred beer bottles collected over seven years by the owners.

The twety-three taps offer a mix of Barbarian’s own brews and guest beers from other Peruvian craft brewers such as Nuevo Mundo, La Magdalena, Cumbres, and Sierra Andina.  All are available in 100-ml tasters, or in 200-ml and 400-ml pours.  
In addition, there is a selection of bottled Peruvian craft and import beers available for consumption on the spot or to go (currently at a 30% discount relative to the in-house price!).
There is also a kitchen, offering burgers, chicken wings, and other pub-type fare, making  this a good place for lunch, dinner, or a late night snack, washed down with quality beer.

BarBarian
Calle Manuel Bonilla 108
Miraflores, Lima
Peru
 

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