Beer 511

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

O Light Organic Light Beer

Today we are sharing our impressions of O Light Organic Light Beer. O Light Organic Light Beer is a 4.5% abv American light lager manufactured by O Light Organic in San Jose (CA).

As befits a light lager, it is a blonde beer, golden -tending toward straw- in color.  It raises a nice head upon pouring, which subsides quickly, to leave a ring of medium bubbles around the glass and a thin layer of tiny bubbles across the surface.

It has a light, slightly sweet aroma, with light caramel and honey notes. Hop aroma is low, almost obscured by the sweetness.

The flavor is quite nice. It has a pleasant toastyness, with a biscuity, almost graham-like flavor and hints of honey. Hop bitterness is light, with notes of pine and grapefruit.  It has a light, smooth, mouthfeel with medium carbonation and slightly dry finish.

O Light Organic Light Beer’s calling card, and the reason some may be drawn to it, is that it is a USDA and CCOF-certified organic non-GMO product. That’s great, but I think equally important is that it is a quite pleasant beer; refreshing and easy to drink.

Local GABF Winners

On Oct. 16th-17th, the Brewers Association celebrated the 39th edition of the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the largest and most important beer event in the US.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s event was held entirely online. However, although there was no pro-am component this year, the commercial beers competition was indeed held, and brewers across the country held their breath as they watched the online feed of the awards ceremony, and waited to learn if they’d earned one of the coveted medals.

Below are the medals won by breweries “local” to me -meaning in a wide circle drawn around the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly from Chico in the north to Fresno in the south, and east to the state line.

Congrats to them all! The full list of winners can be viewed HERE.

In Memoriam

On October 4th the homebrewing world lost one of its most stalwart champions with the passing of Mike “Tasty” McDole.

Mike was a world-renowned homebrewer, who also was part of many collaboration brews with commercial brewers, the most famous of which produced 21st Amendment’s “Tasty IPA” and, of course, Heretic’s “Evil 3″ triple IPA.

Mike was a founding member of my homebrew club, the Diablo Order of Zymiracle Enthusiasts (DOZE) and it was one of his pride and joys. He was the first club member to win an award at a homebrew competition, and he went on to win several more, including the Samuel Adams Longshot competition (2008), before retiring from competing.

Mike was a supportive and encouraging of new brewers. He was humble and earnest in critiquing a beer, and never offered a criticism without also offering a suggestion on how to resolve the problem. He was also a regular contributor to the Brewing Network’s podcasts, and the originator of “Tasty’s Tasting Room” homebrew booth at the BN’s annual Spring Brews Festival in Concord, CA. It was because of Mike that homebrew is a regular part of several other beer festivals in the area.

As a result, Mike was known and beloved far and wide. Occasionally, after being greeted by people and having selfies taken with him, by people while out for a beer, he’d lean in with a grin and whisper, “I just don’t get it. They act like I’m something special, but I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m just an old hippie who likes to make good beer.”

Mike’s most famous and popular recipe is “Janet’s Brown Ale”, with which he won a gold medal at the 2004 National Homebrew Competition. Janet’s Brown is named after his wife, whose favorite it was among his brews (she had passed away in 2001). Tasty freely shared the recipe, and allowed several commercial breweries to make batches of it. It appears in Jamil Zainasheff’s book Brewing Classic Styles and has been made into a homebrew kit by MoreBeer!

Janet’s Brown Ale

  • 27.5 lb pale malt
  • 3.0 lb dextrin malt
  • 2.5 lb 40L crystal malt
  • 2.0 lb wheat malt
  • 1.0 lb 350L chocolate malt
  • 1.0 lb corn sugar
  • 3.0 oz US Northern Brewer pellet hops, 5.1% a.a. (mash)
  • 3.0 oz US Northern Brewer pellet hops, 5.1% a.a. (60 min)
  • 2.0 oz US Northern Brewer pellet hops, 5.1% a.a. (15 min)
  • 3.0 oz Cascade pellet hops, 5.6% a.a. (10 min)
  • 4.0 oz Cascade whole hops, 5.8% a.a. (0 min, hopback)
  • 4.0 oz Centennial pellet hops, 10.5% a.a. (dry hop)
  • White Labs WLP001

Water profile: Ca 110.0 ppm, Mg 18.0 ppm, Na 17.0 ppm, SO4 350.0 ppm, Cl 50.0 ppm.

  1. Mash grains at 154° F for 30 minutes. Raise to 170° F and hold for 15 minutes. Sparge at 170° F for 45 minutes.
  2. Primary fermentation for 7 days at 68° F.
  3. Secondary fermentation for 9 days at 70° F . Dry hop in secondary for 7 days.
  4. Cold condition for six weeks.

Original Gravity: 1.074 FG: 1.018 ABV: 7.35%

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.
Gloria Quispe
Unión de Cerveceros Artesanales del Perú

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