Beer 511

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

Category: Peru

La Cerveteca (Lima, Peru)

A sign of the growing popularity of craft beer in Peru is the recent appearance of specialty shops dedicated to Peruvian craft beer and imports, such as La Cerveteca.

La Cerveteca is a small storefront operation, but it offers a widely representative selection of Peruvian craft beer from all over the country, and a few craft brews from neighboring countries, such as Chile, as well as imported beer –mainly from Belgium. They also sell some brewery swag such as posters, T-shirts, logo glassware, etc.

Most of the beer is stored at room temperature, but I was told that the stock rotates frequently.  There is also an upright glass-fronted fridge which holds more bottles.

La Cerveteca is located at 319 Ave. Ernesto Diez Canseco, Miraflores.  They’ve only been open nine months, but the guy running the place when I visited said it had been going well so far.

(There is also another bottle shop: La Bodega Cervercera, at the El Polo II shopping center in Lima’s Surco district.  La Bodega Cervecera is an outgrowth of an online beer retailer by the same name.  Although the website has been around for two years, the brick-and-mortar storefront just opened in June and I have yet to visit it.)

Brewpub Wicks (Lima, Peru)

In July I visited Brewpub Wicks for the first time.  Wicks, which is located in Barranco district,  kept turning up on Untappd, so I’ve known about its existence for a year or two, and that it seemed to be a beer pub oriented primarily at English-speaking expats.

Well, it turns out that Wicks also makes and serves its own beer, and that it is rather good beer.

Wicks’ lineup of house beers includes IPA, stout, best bitter, and golden ale.  On the night we visited, however, they only had the golden and the stout on hand.

The golden was slightly bitter and a bit floral or fruity.  It was nice, but none of us were “wowed” by it.

On the other hand, the stout was very easy to like and very easy to drink. It was tasty and robust but without any burnt astringency.   It was also really smooth.  One might think that it was dispensed with nitrogen, but –at least according to the pub’s website– all their beers are dispensed via hand-pulled beer engines.

Since 2014, Wicks has been quietly doing its thing. which makes it one of the pioneer brewpubs in Lima, but without the attention garnered by other craft breweries.

According to the pub’s website,

The story begins across the ocean, in England, where the idea of ‘Wicks’ was developed, by a young couple, Vanessa and William. When Vanessa and William met, she was a Peruvian student and he was a bar manager who wanted to start his own business. They both knew the ambience of a traditional British pub and they wanted to take that feeling to Lima. The ‘Brew Pub Wicks’ was born.

The formula seems to have worked.  The place was definitely packed, with expats and Peruvians alike, on the night we visited.

 

 

Brewpub Wicks
Av. Pedro de Osma 210, Barranco
Lima, Peru

www.brewpubwicks.com

Maharaja India Pale Ale

Lima’s Cerveza Brewson has just released their latest creation: Maharaja IPA.

Maharaja is a 7.1% abv American-style IPA brewed with Mosaic, Centennial, Columbus and Citra hops.  It has a medium hop nose and bitterness.

Maharaja has a smooth mouthfeel and holds carbonation well. In appearance it is a light amber -perhaps around 10 SRM. It is a tasty, well-executed beer.

Cerveza Brewson is year-old craft brewery created by Rimson Lobo, a homebrewer turned nano-brewer from India who now lives in Lima.  Maharaja is Brewson’s third offering, following upon Sunshine Pale Ale and Garam Massala Belgian Dubbel.

Peru’s Craft Beer Explosion

Beer in Peru, as elsewhere, has been undergoing a process of concentration of ownership and production decisions for many decades.  In Peru the process ocurred as the Backus & Johnston’s brewery and the Cerveceria del Sur each out-competed or absorbed local and regional brands, then merged under the Backus & Johnston umbrella, and then itself be bought by ABInbev a few years ago. As result, many styles of beer faded from memory to be replaced with macro-produced lagers.

There were always upstarts and holdouts, of course, but in time they all succumbed. Even, it seems, the well-funded Tres Cruces brand from the AJE Group, an international beverage corporation founded in Ayacucho by the Añaños family.

In the past decade, however, there has been a different set of breweries developing, who played by different rules. – producing small amounts, self-distributing, and putting out a wider variety of styles. However, even though there were rumours of craft breweries in Lima, they were all but invisible, and there was only one brewpub – the Cerveceria De Tomás (later renamed Mi CebiChela) on Ave. Rosa Toro.

Then, three years ago -it seemed all of a sudden- craft brew bubbled up and burst on to the scene. The Cerveza Cumbres brand from Cerveceria Gourmet had made it into some high-end restaurants, and Barbarian and Sierra Andina had managed to get shelf space in supermarkets. Barranco Beer Company had opened a high-profile brewpub, and was soon followed by Barbarian and Nuevo Mundo opening their own taprooms.

Today, there are some two dozen craft beer brands being produced in Lima alone: Ágora, Amarílis, Barbarian, Barranco Beer Co., Beer Stache, Brewson, Brutus, Candelaria, Chinekus, Costumbres, Cumbres, Curaka, De Tomás, Greenga, Hops, Invictus, Jaya Brew, Kennel, Lima Brew, Maddok, Magdalena, Melquiades, Nuevo Mundo, Oveja Negra, Santos Demonios, Saqra, Siete Vidas, Sumaq, Teach, Tío Luque, and Zenith.

Outside of Lima, we find Machay, Mamacha Carmen, and Melkim in Arequipa; Cervecería del Valle Sagrado in Urubamba; Amarus, Oráculo, and Perro Calato in Ayacucho; Dörcher Bier in Pozuzo; Wayayo in Huancayo; and Sierra Andina in Huaráz.  There is also a lone meadery: Ragnarok, situated on the outskirts of Lima, in Pachacámac.  (There are, surely, other small breweries but because their products rarely make it into the Lima market they don’t get the exposure.)

Many of the above were partially, or wholly, founded by foreigners -French, North Americans, Australians, Indians- who settled Peru, or Peruvians who had lived abroad and had come into contact with the European and North American homebrewing and craft brewing communities. Although some of them are well-appointed microbreweries, most would qualify as nano-breweries, and some are not much more than skilled home breweries who are able to package and sell their product.

Many, perhaps most, started by advertising on their own FaceBook pages and taking orders directly  from customers over the phone for delivery within their respective cities. Online vendors, such as La Barra de Grau, La Bodega Cervecera, and 1518 Chela, helped spread the word and provincial brewers to break into the Lima market.  They have been joined in the past year by two brick-and-mortar craft beer bottle shops in Lima: La Bodega Cervecera’s own retail store in Surco, and La Cerveteca, which opened 8 months ago in Miraflores.

In the meantime, Barranco Beer Company has opened stands in other points of Lima and in a couple in other cities, and Barbarian is opening a second taproom in Lima.   Maddok and La Candelaria have joined Sierra Andina and Barbarian on the shelves in major grocery store chains. Craft beer is increasingly finding its way into restaurants, bars, and cafes, and magazines, newspapers and television programs frequently run features craft beer and the best places to get it.

Craft beer is still but a miniscule part of the Peruvian beer market, but it is one that is getting increasing attention, and is clearly here to stay.

 

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