The heat of the day gives way to the steam of the night in one of the world’s biggest, sexiest and most notorious cities. I am about half-drunk, just sober enough to stay safe, and I’m wantonly lost on a dangerous backstreet. The music spills out of the raucous neighborhood bars–incoherent rhythms stumbling across the sidewalks and into the street, bouncing harmlessly off each other like whiskey-soaked drunks too wasted to fight.
That’s just my imagination, but I encourage you to daydream with me. Cue the Tango. In Argentina, it is mid-summer. Today’s forecast for Buenos Aires is mostly sunny with a high temperature of 82 degrees. Sounds nice, eh?
Our friend Tim is a fully deputized Washington Beer Blog Correspondent. Tim is currently on assignment in Argentina. I am guessing that his adventures don’t match my imagination. Tim is on vacation and is generously reporting to us about what kind of beer he finds as he bounces around the country between Buenos Aires and Mendoza. In a country where wine reigns supreme, Tim has managed to find some craft beer – cerveza artesenal, as the locals call it.
“I knew about Buller Brewing and sought them out,” says Tim via email. “I went to one of their pubs – the one right across the street from the Recoleta Cemetery, where Evita is buried.”
If there is a craft beer revolution happening in Argentina, and that is a big if, Buller Brewing started it. In operation for more than a decade, Buller Brewing operates two gastropubs in Buenos Aires: one near the famous cemetery and the other downtown. They are slick, urban establishments that morph into lively night clubs after dark. According to our reporter, Buller Brewing is not exactly like your cute, little neighborhood pub. After all, Buenos Aires makes Seattle look like a sleepy little one-horse town.
The beer lineup at Buller Brewing includes Light Lager, Blonde Ale, Honey Ale, IPA and Stout. Tim reports that the beers are serviceable but nothing like he is used to drinking at home (Seattle). That is, he’s not complaining. “Honey Ale is a big deal here in Argentina. It’s basically a blond ale with a sweet taste. Also, the IPAs here taste like malt and not hops.”
One more beer stop in Buenos Aires: Cerveza Atresenal Antares. Located in the Palermo neighborhood, this is one of several Antares locations in Argentina (at least a dozen). Again, this place is urbane, big and swanky. Unless something was lost in translation, the company’s main brewery is in Mar del Plata, where it produces beer for both domestic and export markets. Each location in Argentina has its own brewery, which comes complete with the individual brewer’s creative flair. Antares is not exactly small, but it is crafty and produces a full compliment of beer styles ranging from Kolsch to Stout. Yes, and a honey beer.
But it is not all about the big city. And my imagination runs wild again.
A dirty little kid with a big smile is totally unaware that I’m watching as he uses a stick to push a tireless bicycle wheel down the dusty street. Across the way, a group of more dirty kids chase a half-flat soccer ball and a cloud of dust around a vacant lot. I walk into a place that looks like it might be a bar. Everyone stares. I struggle to remember the words, knowing that a few precious phrases are essential for my survival. “Disculpe, señor, necesito una cerveza, por favor.” The beer is barely cold, it is closer to tepid, and the glass is dirty. Everything is perfect. “Muchas gracias.”
Ah, I can dream.
Tim tells us about the next stop. “The next brewery, we just happened to stumble upon,” Tim explains. “We found Cerveza Artesanal Pirca along the roadside in an area called Colonia Suiza as we approached the city of Mendoza. It’s on the other side of the county, up against the foothills of the Andes. Pirca has a rustic beer garden and taproom.”
The beer selection at Cerveza Artesanal Pirca was simple: a Rubio, a Rojo, and a Negro (blond, red, and black). Again, Tim describes the beers as adequate, but given how far away from home he is, they are welcomed and refreshing.
We’ve turned Tim loose now. Maybe we will hear more from him. We hope not. Just go have fun, Tim. Leave us to our daydreaming.
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