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Argentine Beer

As I was perusing the newly released 2015 BJCP guidelines, I noticed at the very end two Argentine styles were recently added: the Dorada Pampeana and Argentine IPA. I cited Dorada Pampeana back in 2013 as an example when I was writing about the thought process of developing a local Bolivian style, so it’s good to see that Northern brewing groups are paying attention to happenings elsewhere. Here’s the newly minted and cemented (for better and for worse) entry for Dorada Pampeana in Spanish and English:

X1. Dorada Pampeana Suggested style placement: Category 18 (Pale American Beer)

En sus comienzos los cerveceros caseros argentinos estaban muy limitados: no existían los extractos, sólo malta pilsen y lúpulo Cascade. Sólo levaduras secas, comúnmente Nottingham, Windsor o Safale. Con estos ingredientes, los cerveceros argentinos desarrollaron una versión específica de la Blond Ale, llamda Dorada Pampeana.

Impresión general: Fácilmente bebible, accesible, con orientación a malta.

Aroma: aroma dulce maltoso ligero a moderado. Es aceptable el aroma frutal bajo a moderado. Debe tener aroma a lúpulo bajo a medio. Sin diacetilo.

Aspecto: color amarillo claro a dorado profundo. Claro a brillante. Espuma baja a medio con buena retención.

Sabor: Dulzor maltoso inicial suave. Típicamente ausentes los flavors a caramelo. Flavor a lúpulo ligero a moderado (usualmente Cascade), pero no debería ser agresivo. Amargor bajo a moderado, pero el balance tiende a la malta. Final medio-seco o algo dulce. Sin diacetilo.

Sensación en boca: Cuerpo mediano ligero a medio. Carbonatación media a alta. Sensación suave sin amargor áspero o astringencia.

Comentarios: es dificultoso lograr el balance.

Historia: los primeros cerveceros argentinos sólo accedían a malta pilsen y lúpulo cascade y con ellos desarrollaron esta variante de Blond Ale.

Ingredientes: usualmente solo malta pálida o pilsen, aunque puede incluir bajas proporciones de malta caramelizadas. Comúnmente lúpulo Cascade. Levaduras americanas limpias, británicas levemente frutadas o Kölsch, usualmente acondicionada en frío.

Estadísticas vitales: D.I.: 1.042 – 1.054 IBUs: 15 – 22 D.F.: 1.009 – 1.013 SRM: 3 – 5 G.A.: 4,3º – 5,5º

Pampas Golden Ale

Overall impression: easy drinkability, malt-oriented.

Aroma: light to moderate sweet malty aroma. Low to moderate fruity aroma is acceptable. May have a low to medium hop aroma. No diacetyl.

Appearance: light yellow to deep gold color. Clear to brilliant. Low to medium head with good retention.

Flavor: Initial soft malty sweetness. Caramel flavors typically are absent. Mild to moderate hop flavor (usually Cascade), but should not be aggressive. Low to moderate hop bitterness, the balance is normally towards the malt. Half-dry to something sweet finish. No diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Medium to high carbonation. Smooth without harsh bitterness or astringency.

Comments: it is difficult to achieve the balance.

History: At the beginning argentine homebrewers were very limited: there weren´t extract, they could use only pils malt, Cascade hops and dry yeast, commonly Nottingham, Windsor or Safale. With these ingredients, Argentine brewers developed a specific version of Blond Ale, named Dorada Pampeana.

Ingredients: usually only pale or pils malt, although may include low rates of caramelized malt. Commonly Cascade hops. Clean American yeast, slightly fruity British or Kölsch, usually packaged in cold.

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.042 – 1.054 IBU: 15 – 22 FG: 1.009 – 1.013 SRM: 3 – 5 ABV: 4.3% – 5.5%

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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.