Beer 511

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

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/

The new Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar (Lima, Peru)

Having arrived in Lima the night before, last Monday afternoon I went in search of craft brew.  Heading to Miraflores district, I found BarBarian closed for the afternoon while some work was being done on the place, and that Dörcher Bier’s place was gone and being replaced with a Peruvian-Asian fusion eatery. I was not to be frustrated, however, for right next door was a new taproom for Cerveceria Nuevo Mundo!

When I say new, I mean it was literally quite new, having just opened its doors in mid-June.  It turns out that the old Nuevo Mundo taproom around the corner and a block or two down Avenida Larco, closed and is now Lupulo Draft Bar.  The staff at the new Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar said that they have the Nuevo Mundo concession. I’m not sure what that means, but if it works, who am I to argue?

The place is about the same size as the old one, but because of the layout it feels a bit smaller.  It is easier to get around in, however, as not having a staircase taking up some of the space allows one more room to maneuver in.

Between Nuevo Mundo’s own offerings and a few guest tap, the beers, naturally, are as good as they’ve ever been.

 

Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar
103 Calle Manuel Bonilla
Miraflores, Lima

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

Figueroa Mountain Brewing’s “Lizard’s Mouth” Imperial IPA

 

Figueroa Mountain Brewing is a family-owned craft brewery located in Buellton, CA, with six taprooms along the south-central coast: in Buellton, Arroyo Grande, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara, and Westlake Village.

I was happy to be given the chance to sample some beers by Figueroa Mountain Brewing, who, last week, sent me a couple of bottles for review.

The first of those -which I opened yesterday- is Lizard’s Mouth Imperial India Pale Ale.

My first impression upon pouring Lizard’s Mouth was that this is a pretty beer. Starting with the clear, golden color, an on to that snow-white head.

My bottle was appropriately carbonated, producing steady streams of tiny bubbles rising up through the beer, what people sometimes refer to as “strings of pearls”. Lizard’s Mouth also has good head retention, and plenty long-lasting lacing in the glass as the volume of liquid goes down.

Lizard’s Mouth is full-bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel. It has a little bit of warmth -one can tell it is a higher alcohol brew- but doesn’t taste at all “hot” or alcoholic.

As for the hops, they are definitely up near the front in the aroma and taste, but they don’t smack one in the face. Lizard’s Mouth has plenty of malt body and sweetness to balance out the 75 IBUs of hops (Simcoe, Citra, and Centennial, if you must know).

Unlike many American double IPA’s, which are very much hop-forward, Lizard’s Mouth may be better described as malt-forward –of course, maybe that’s why it’s described as an “imperial” and not a “double” IPA.  It tastes malty, with some notes of biscuit, a little toast. There’s notes of citrus in there as well, and tropical fruit — I get guava, passion fruit, maybe some pineapple.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem with a 9% abv brew, as I was finishing my glass of Lizard’s Mouth, it occurred to me that “this a session imperial IPA”! I could have easily drunk another bottle of it, which doesn’t happen a lot with big IPA’s.  I mean, yes, there was a hop flavor and bitterness aftertaste, but my tastebuds didn’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I was able to enjoy a meal immediately thereafter and actually be able to taste something other than hops.

So, Pliny, this isn’t.  Double IPAs of that school are meant to showcase hops. Figueroa Mountain’s Lizard’s Mouth Imperial IPA, on the other hand, was clearly designed to attain a balance.  The result is a beer that is surprisingly easy to drink despite the high hop rate and abv.

Honestly, I liked it a lot.

 

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

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