Southern Cone tastings

Some acquaintances came through to visit and brought with them bottles from the Southern Cone. Some I’d tried, but others are new. Both Chile and Argentina have loads of old world European influence based on centuries of immigration, and while the former also draws a lot of influence from the poorer parts of the British Isles (case in point: O’Higgins was a naval hero and now a widely used name), the latter boasts some of the most progressive open immigration legislation in the world.

I was recently tasked with providing some other folks with some recommendations for a couple relatively obscure towns in Argentina. Even with minimal research, I was blown away by just how much variety there is, even in rural areas that mostly cater to outdoor expeditions of various sorts. I’m already relatively familiar with what Chile can offer based on travel there, but Argentina was and is a revelation. And that’s not even to mention the hop fields in El Bolson, Argentina. I only regret I haven’t had a chance to try the Mapuche hops of Argentina just yet. Some day, perhaps.

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Cervecería Austral Lager: Brewed in Patagonia of Chile, this is very golden, and tastes a bit of vanilla and honey spread over toasted whole wheat bread. Crisp, but quite filling and I’m done after one. 4.6% ABV.

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Kuntsmann Lager: Brewed in Valdivia, Chile, this is more copper-colored to match the caramel malts, but unfortunately it’s less dynamic of a taste. More caramel in the aroma and some to match in the taste, along with some woody hops, but not quite as interesting to drink as the former. Lighter, though. And at 4.3% ABV I could drink three of these before getting bored. Eminently crushable, as they say.

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Kuntsmann Torobayo Pale Ale: [Somehow I lost the notes on this. If for whatever reason you really care that much, you can read my comments on it from last year. I mean if you think of it as the Blue Moon of Chile, it’s pretty good.]

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Cerveza Cape Horn Pilsener: 4.8% ABV and certainly one of the better pilseners I’ve had in South America. Golden and a little turbid, it tastes of honey on toast chased by a really nice woody bitterness.  A really floral bouquet in the nose, maybe even some banana? Brewed with wheat and (surprisingly?) sugar in the very southerly city of Ushuaia on the Argentine part of Tierra del Fuego. (Looking at the place of sugar in the ingredients list, I wonder if that was for priming since this is bottle conditioned.) Tasty.

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Cerveza Artesanal Antares Altbier: A bit past its drink-by date. Smells of slightly stale bread and maybe some peaches? Tastes of caramel, whole wheat bread, balanced, and leaves a nice lingering bitterness. A pretty reddish copper. Somewhat thin, however, and a bit watery. I tell you what, though, I think most Bolivians would enjoy this 5.5% beer.

These last two were the real treat, though, brought all the way from Easter Island, technically a Chilean possession, but really quite distinct culturally speaking. So, I suppose this isn’t Southern Cone beer either, except on the basis of nationality. Oh well. These were shared among friends, hence the small pours.

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Cerveceria Rapa Nui Mahina Pale Ale: Tastes of delicious bread, and chewy to boot. Drinking this is an exercise in understanding how much your base malt can influence the outcome of a beer, and this clearly was not made with pilsner malt. There’s some banana aroma, it’s snappy and soft all at once, with a background hint of something meaty or savory. I enjoyed this at 4.8%; almost disappointed to share it.

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Cerveceria Rapa Nui Mahina Porter: Red highlights on a dark brown body and tan head. It’s 6.8% and smells of fresh cut wood and whipped cream. It tastes very clearly of a sweet, light chocolate, a bit of roasted barley, and then creamy at the end. Everyone liked this one.

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