Beer 511

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

Category: Peru Beer Page 1 of 8

Heineken has eye on Peru beer market

The Netherlands-based Heineken N.V. -the world’s second largest brewing company, with over 165 breweries in 70 countries (including California’s Lagunitas Brewing Co.)- is seeking to expand its share in Peru’s beer market.

In late September Heineken closed the purchase -for an undisclosed amount, but said to be around US$50M- of the Tres Cruces brand from the AJE Group. AJE is a beverage company, started in Ayacucho by the Añaños family, with operations in 22 countries. Tres Cruces was its incursion into the Peruvian beer market. Under the partnership, AJE will serve as Heineken’s national distributor.

Although Tres Cruces’ share of the national beer market amounted to only 0.1%, with the purchase Heineken has gained a foothold in the only large regional market in which it did not have a direct presence.

However, according to rumors, verified by articles in the business-oriented Lima newspaper Gestión, Heineken has also set its sights on purchasing Lima’s largest independent brewery, Candelaria. Representatives for Candelaria have confirmed that they have been approached by Heineken and there have been conversations.

Coupled with last year’s purchase of Cervecería Barbarian by AB-Inbev’s ZX Ventures, any such sale of Candelaria would have the effect of having removed the top two breweries in the craft sector. This is important, not just because they were the largest, but also because they were leaders in opening spaces for craft beer in supermarket coolers and shelves.

Some observers, even within the craft brew community, hail such sales, predicting that they will increase competition and thus lead to a raise in quality within the craft beer sector. Others point to the exclusionary and anti-competitive practices of AB-Inbev and its local conglomerate, Backus.

Needless to say, Peruvian craft brewers are watching the situation with attention.

Peruvian Craft Brewers Oppose “Dry Law”

Last week Peruvians were dismayed by a tragedy which resulted from people violating the government prohibition on social gatherings during the pandemic. More than 100 young people had gathered at an informal discotheque for a birthday celebration. When, following complaints from neighbors, the police arrived to break it up, dozens of intoxicated revelers tried to flee via the locale’s sole narrow exit, resulting in a crush which claimed thirteen lives.

Of the twenty-three people arrested, fifteen tested positive for COVID-19.

Public indignation grew more intense when cellphone video surfaced of non-masked friends and relatives drinking and dancing in the cemetery following entombment of one of the deceased.

This, all following a long list of cases of curfew and social distancing violations involving alcohol, reportedly led Walter Martos, head of President Martín Vizcarra’s Ministerial Council, to pose the possibility of a “Dry Law” banning alcohol in the country.

Peru’s craft brewer’s association, the Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú (UCAP), was quick to respond to this threat to the health of its sector and the livelihood of its members. Below is my translation of the letter they sent to the Production Minister:



Lima, 27th of August of 2020
 
Señor José Salardi Rodríguez
Minister of Production
 
Dear Mr. Minister,
 
There have been made public today the declarations of the president of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Walter Martos, in which the possibility is floated of declaring a “Dry Law” in the whole country. In that regard, we wish to make you aware of the current situation of the Peruvian Craft Brewers MYPES [Micro and Small Industries] sector:

● Peruvian craft breweries are in a critical state, having lost more than 50% of our sales due to the strains brought about by the pandemic.

● More than 20% of craft breweries have had to close their doors permanently

● Breweries that continue to operate have had to reduce their personnel by 40% on average (more than 200 direct jobs and 2000 indirect ones have been lost to date).

● During the first 6 weeks of the state of emergency there existed a “tacit dry law”. During that time, in which there was the highest control by the authorities, we witnessed the proliferation of a “black market” in alcoholic beverages.

● A temporary dry law at this time would not help solve the root problem. The black market would continue, hurting small producers, especially formal ones.

● Given its flavor characteristics and price point, craft beer is an alcoholic beverage of moderation and is not the cause of agglomerations nor of irresponsible acts.

● Those craft breweries who are still functioning do so with all the established protocols and approvals from the Health Ministry and the Production Ministry. This work is undertaken with great effort and at a very high cost.

● A temporary Dry Law would bring about the closure of these enterprises and the temporary or permanent loss of more than 400 direct jobs and more than 2000 indirect ones.

● In short: A temporary Dry Law would be the coup de grace to our weakened sector and its job generation.
 
Within our sector, we have direct and immediate communication with our consumer through our social media. We offer to be communicators and to contribute to spreading the message of the Central Government, which looks for us to be responsible in difficult times.

We hope that you could be the voice that represents us in conversations with the Prime Minister, and who promotes solutions to problems.
 
Sincerely,
 
Gloria Quispe
President
Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú

Lima’s Barbarian Brewery Sold to AB InBev’s ZX Ventures

In a move that caught almost everyone by surprise, the announcement was made early last week that Lima’s Cervecería Barbarian had been 100% acquired by ZX Ventures.

Barbarian was one of Peru’s most visible and successful early craft breweries. A winner of many awards, and headed by a charismatic and friendly trio of friends -Diego Rodríguez, Juan Diego Vásquez, and Ignacio Schwalb-, it was often featured in stories in print and visual media. Barbarian promoted itself as leading the “beer revolution”, and it was in no small part through their efforts that space was opened up for Peruvian craft beer in supermarket shelves and coolers.

ZX Ventures, on the other hand, is an “innovation and investment” group for Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company. ZX Ventures specializes in bringing AB InBev’s reach into areas hitherto unexplored by the company, such as homewbrewing supplies, beer e-commerce, beer vending machines, and in acquiring and then funding expansion of startups in new markets. It already owned 13 breweries around the world.

AB InBev, for its part, has already had a footing in Peru, since its 2016 acquistion of Ambev Perú and of the Backus & Johnston brewing empire. With the acquisition of Barbarian it garners a foothold in the “craft” market, and one via a company that comes with two successful bars and another on the way, and which has already proved a market for premium and superpremium beers (which Backus itself had already unsuccessfully tried its hand at via its short-lived Abraxas beer.) Under the terms of thedeal, Rodríguez, Vásquez, and Schwalb, along with Barbarian’s 120 employees, will all remain in their current positions and roles.

Not surprisingly, news of the sale sent shock waves through the Peruvian craft beer community.

The immediate realization was that the waters around what is a craft brewer, and thus a craft beer, were about to get quite muddied. The fear being that Barbarian’s strong public identification with the craft beer movement would persist, not only in the company’s self image, but in the eyes of consumers, while AB InBev would use Barbarian’s visibility and reputation, backed by Backus & Johnston’s clout, to choke off market access for craft brewers.

The second was that the craft brew industry needed to get out ahead of this and define what makes a brewery a craft brewery, and thus a beer a craft beer.

The Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú (UCAP), quickly settled on independence being a key feature, and suggested that breweries place a logo on their social media pages reading “Yo sí soy una verdadera cervecería artesanal” (I am a real craft brewery) and the hash-tag #cervezaindependiente. At the same time many supporters and craft beer drinkers -including myself- followed suit and rushed to add a similar logo to our social media feeds and pages (including this blog), reading “Yo sí tomo verdadera cerveza artesanal” (I drink real craft beer).

The campaign more or less landed with a thud. Many consumers, commenting in FaceBook groups, rejected it, viewing it as sour grapes from a bunch “haters” resentful of others’ success.

The truth is that many members of the UCAP are personal friends and acquaintances of Barbarian’s founders, and in fact, until the morning of the announcement of the sale, Barbarian’s Juan Diego Vásquez was the president of the UCAP. However, because the logo campaign was not preceded nor accompanied by any public statement explaining it, and which could have been used to congratulate the Barbarians, thank them for their efforts on behalf of craft brew in Peru, and to wish them well in the future, the choice of language for the logo came to be seen as pointedly anti-Barbarian.

The UCAP’s members are coming to realize that the sale of Barbarian presents them with the challenge and the opportunity to start the process of formally defining what is a craft brewery in the Peruvian context, something which, as I’ve noted before, has not yet been done very well.

The 5 Best IPAs Made in Peru

Hi, today, on IPA Day, we are honored to have a guest post from Peru’s foremost beer blogger, José Alberto Castro “El Gourmetógrafo”.

José Alberto also writes beer and cocktail articles for Peruvian food and drink magazines, is an experienced food/drink photographer, a Recognized BJCP judge, and a talented musician.

This article was written specially for today and initially published in Spanish and in English on his blog, TomandoAltura.com.

Long Live IPA 2019

by El Gourmetógrafo 1 August 2019

Megan, born and raised in Connecticut but living in Lima for many years, once told me that every time she went back to her country and ordered an IPA, the bartenders failed to understand what she wanted. The reason, she explained, is that she used the ‘Peruvian way’. In Peru ‘IPA’ rhymes with the British pronunciation for ‘deeper.’ Maybe it was how suddenly the style caught on that made us turn the ÁIY-PIY-ÉY pronunciation into a more approachable ÍYPAH. Whatever the reason, we cannot deny that India Pale Ales became the favorite kind of beer for many because they felt like the exact opposite of the golden and brilliant lagers that smell as boring as an empty glass left to dry on a drain rack. To give the celebrated IPAs the spotlight it deserves in Peru, we have created the first edition of Larga Vida IPA and chosen the 5 best IPAs made in Peru.

mejores IPAs peruanas: Los 4 jueces antes de empezar la evaluación de las muestras en Santas Alitas, Surco.

The 4 judges just before the blind tasting of IPA samples at Santas Alitas, Surco.

This initiative started as part of an interest my friends Mohammed, Olivier, and I share. We had previously gotten together to sample and rate as many Belgian tripels available in Peru. Other beer styles followed using blind tastings. When we were in the middle of discussing the possibility of a new get-together to blind taste IPAs, I came up with the idea of fetching IPAs brewed in Peru using only water, malt, hops, and yeast and publishing the results today precisely on IPA Day. After many much needed phone calls and text messages, 17 Peruvian breweries agreed to send us their samples with no cost neither for them nor for us. Such exciting news encouraged me to register the event to have it sanctioned by the BJCP. In order to give our judging staff another experienced set of taste buds, we managed to convince Megan to join us. She is perhaps the Peru-based beer judge that has participated in the most competitions abroad.

This being a BJCP-sanctioned mini-tournament of American IPAs made in Peru, we must play by the rules. That means we will not publicize the scores given to each beer nor will we reveal the names of the 14 participating breweries —three breweries did not meet the dealine set for sample delivery. Observing the rules, each of the participating breweries will receive the beer score sheets filled out by all four judges including final assigned scores. Without further ado, here are the 5 Best Peruvian IPAs determined through blind tastings by Megan Garrity (Certified BJCP Judge), Mohammed Reza (Certified BJCP Judge), Olivier Díaz (Provisional BJCP Judge), and José Alberto Castro (Recognized BJCP Judge).

5th Place: It is a little funny that my first article on IPAs (Catering & Gastronomía, January 2016) included this beer by Planeta Bierra. Undoubtedly, Diaplipa‘s first appearance in the year 2014 has given this Double IPA not only the chance to position itself among beer drinkers in Lima but also to get better batch after batch. This new version of Diaplipa, you will notice it features a new label, deserves a place on this list due to its intense bitter flavor, its balance between caramelly malts and citrusy and resiny hops, and its powerful dry finish.

mejores ipas peruanas: La Diablipa ha retornado con imagen renovada.

Diablipa has returned with a new presentation.

4th Place: I must say I would have felt weird not to see this beer among the best IPAs from Peru. Inti Punku has been one of my favorites of all times, just like Brewery of the Sacred Valley. So every time I find myself at a taproom, I set the goal of finding a place near the taps, keeping an eye for a proper service, and then enjoying it. As you know, Init Punku is only available in kegs, so Juan and Carlos got out of their way to bottle three samples of this bitter delight filled with assertive flavors of citrus fruits and pine wood.

mejores ipas peruanas: Ésta es definitivamente la mejor versión de la Ilusionista de Invictus.

This is definitely the best version of Ilusionista by Invictus.

3rd Place: If a beer-drinking region such as Cusco deserves a place on this list, it is only fair that the region of Arequipa should have a spot too. Seis Mistis by Melkim proves that the medals that Peruvian beer tournaments have recently awarded to the brewery owned by the Quispe brothers are well deserved. This refreshing IPA brewed in Arequipa has made it to the top three thanks to its dry profile showcasing a great balance between tropical and resiny hops and caramel-scented malts complemented by subtle touches of peaches and apricots.

mejores ipas peruanas: La Seis Mistis ya nos había dejado una buena impresión en nuestra reseña publicada a inicios de julio.

Seis Mistis had already left a good impression on our review published in early July.

2nd Place: I feel more than pleased that another of my favorite IPAs has made it into this select group. Though I must admit this is not the same memorable Cat IPA by 7 Vidas that I tasted on draft at the CAPFest 2015, this IPA made in Tacna is among the best I have tried in the six years I have been drinking good beers. The hand of Marco Málaga, the experienced master brewer that has started to collect medals with his Argentina-based craft brewery Okcidenta, is becoming more and more obvious. I love how intensely this Cat IPA drinks, but I like the hop-driven touches of white onions and garlic even more.

mejores ipas peruanas: La IPA más felina del Perú es la Cat IPA de 7 Vidas.

The most feline IPA in Peru is Cat IPA by 7 Vidas.

1st Place: This beer is also among my favorites from the CAPFest 2015, the year when Invictus released their well-known Alquimista and Ilusionista, the best Peruvian IPA of 2019. And it is the best because its bouquet is tropical and resiny, because its body does not wear out the palate, but most of all because its aftertaste leaves a delicious and long taste of mango skin and because it is so totally easy to drink. In a city so intense as Lima, on a night like the one we will have in just a few hours when so many bars will join the IPA Day celebrations, it does us well to have an American IPA that helps us to leave it all behind and makes us remember all the reasons you also made IPA your favorite beer style.

mejores ipas peruanas: Ésta es definitivamente la mejor versión de la Ilusionista de Invictus.

This is definitely the best version of Ilusionista by Invictus.

All that is left to do is to announce there will be a Larga Vida IPA 2020 and that second edition will allow entries for all IPA styles, old and new. We will have every American IPA, English IPA, session IPA, red IPA, New England IPA, and hoppy beer that Peruvian (and foreign?) craft  breweries and home brewers choose to enter. And remember that if you prefer to celebrate IPA Day drinking these beers at home, La Cerveteca has put together the Larga Vida IPA 4-pack with Ilusionista, Cat IPA, Seis Mistis, and Diablipa. May the night be in your favor.

Cheers!

“Chicha de Mora” by Magdalena (Lima, Peru)

“Chicha de Mora”, from Lima’s Magdalena brewery, is described on the bottle as an “American Wheat Berry and Purple Corn Ale.” The name is a play on two traditional Peruvian corn brews – chicha de jora, which is fermented corn beer made from malted corn (jora), and chicha morada, which is made from boiled purple corn.

Despite the name and ingredients, the beer itself is not purple, but has a lovely orange amber color, with a slight blush of pink; no doubt contributed by the purple corn. It is slightly hazy, which is to be expected from a wheaten ale.

The beer presents a nice, initially rocky, head that soon subsides to a thin layer of small bubbles. There is plenty of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Mild hop aroma, smells “wheaty” but not like a heffeweizen – no banana, bubblegum, or citrus. Well, maybe a little citrus.

Midly effervescent, with moderate hop bitterness. Some pine notes, some grapefruit, both both very light.

In terms of mouthfeel, it is slightly tangy up front, giving way to a residual sweetness at the back end. Maybe an effect of the corn?

5.6% abv, 19 IBU

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