Group Tasting: 11 Bolivian Beers

On our last brewday, the four of us brewing sat down with eleven beers that widely available (at least here in Santa Cruz) to try them side-by-side and see how they differentiate from each other. The style designations are all pretty much called “pilsner” by default—what style exactly they fit into, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve specified anywhere it’s another style.

From left to right: Ducal, Real, Paceña Ice, Paceña Pico de Plata, Paceña Pico de Oro, Huari, Corsa Lager, Bock, Paceña Black, Corsa Dunkel.

From left to right: Ducal, Real, Paceña Ice, Paceña Pico de Plata, Paceña Pico de Oro, Huari, Corsa Lager, Bock, Paceña Black, Corsa Dunkel.

Ducal

  • Appearance: Crystal clear pale straw, head sticks around
  • Aroma: Fruits in general
  • Taste: Very light, a bit sweet and a tad bitter at the end. Evokes a “meh” on the tongue and has some off flavors akin to butter or a sourness.
  • Mouthfeel: Smooth and just lacks much character

 

Real

  • Appearance: clear, straw yellow, with less carbonation and not the most enduring head
  • Aroma: bread
  • Taste: light, with little flavor up front, but a distinctly bready aftertaste
  • Mouthfeel: light, but with an increase in body compared to Ducal

 

Paceña Ice

  • Appearance: clear straw with a great head
  • Aroma: [“light-ass”] beer
  • Taste: light, no aftertaste, bland, starchy
  • Mouthfeel: fizzy, then nothing

 

Paceña Pico de Plata

  • Appearance: even lighter and more pale than Paceña Ice, good head
  • Aroma: sour, skunked, “smells like a stale Carnaval shirt”
  • Taste: harsh, offensive, no flavor distinguishable except for the skunking
  • Mouthfeel: bland light lager with lots of carbonation

 

Paceña Pico de Oro

  • Appearance: sketchy head, huge bubbles, light straw yellow
  • Aroma: “what aroma?”, little bit of fruitiness
  • Taste: smoother than Pico de Plata, but still harsh, and with a tiny hint of malt
  • Mouthfeel: more body a bit heavier than Pico de Plata

 

Huari

  • Appearance: less carbonation, very, very pale straw
  • Aroma: bit of bread, maybe a hint of fruit
  • Taste: sweeter than all others, aftertaste is dry and starchy with a hint of bread, and maybe just a bit tart
  • Mouthfeel: seems to have the most body of any of the lagers, quite fizzy

 

Corsa Lager (Vienna Lager)

  • Appearance: coppery-orange, good head, very clear. This is a beautiful beer to look at.
  • Aroma: honey, MALT, toast
  • Taste: huge malt taste, CARAMEL, there are definitely hops present albeit not dominant, perhaps a bit of bitter roastiness?, full flavors come out through a strong “retrogusto” (flavors derived from exhaling),
  • Mouthfeel: light to medium body

 

Bock (Traditional Bock)

  • Appearance: golden, tiny bit of carbonation, and an okay head
  • Aroma: peaches with some malt floating around
  • Taste: esters!, flavor ends abruptly with a slightly tart finish
  • Mouthfeel: warm going down so you notice the booze, but notice as boozey as expected

 

Paceña Black (Dark American Lager)

  • Appearance: Good caramel/light brown head (stout-like), hints of red on the side when held up to light
  • Aroma: brown sugar, super cloyingly sweet
  • Taste: super sweet with flavors of chancaca (jaggery/panela), miel de caña (molasses), caramel, candy, tiny bitterness to go with the dry ending
  • Mouthfeel: light-to-medium body

 

Corsel Dunkel (Munich Dunkel)

  • Appearance: looks like Coke with a little head, redder on the sides
  • Aroma: burnt caramel, fruit
  • Taste: caramel, dry at the end, no hops detectable
  • Mouthfeel: rough around the edges

 

So, to recap with a few comments:

  • Corsa Lager was by leaps and bounds the best of these that we tried. Its flavor knocks everything else out and is the most complex and has the most depth to explore. Here’s to hoping they branch out into other styles!
  • Of the mass-produced pilsners, Real was agreed upon as the most interesting and tasteful for a refreshing lager style.
  • Most of us had tried Bock before, but its quality impressed us and distinguished itself when put in contrast of these other widely-available beers.
  • Of the Paceña line, we were surprised to find that the Paceña Ice was the most palatable. Were the Pico de Plata and Oro bad bottles? Hard to tell, but neither impressed in this lineup.
  • One last note on producers: Corsa produces the Lager and Dunkel, Real is produced independently, and Cerveceria Boliviana Nacional (InBev) produces all the rest.

 

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