Tuesday, 12 April 2016

My Drink of Choice While on a Trip is Beer

My name is Sam Xavier and my favorite drink is beer. I also love a bit of travelling. Recently I have been exploring the whole of South America (or large parts of it) and decided to write about the local beer scene I encountered on my all-too-brief visits. Let me first say that it seems each country has its own flavor. The standard details printed by the can manufacturer do not even begin to tell you what exactly you are in for. You have to actually taste the beer in order to understand what I am talking about. That is why I have chosen a country theme. I tend to look for the local brews rather than the commercial stuff that is heavily marketed on tourists’ sites.   


The legend of Diego Maradona has always had fond memories for me as an avid soccer fan. Therefore I was dying to visit this unique place which apparently has some of the craziest politics on the entire American continent. Anyway my beer expedition focused on a famous brewer who is imaginatively called Otto Tipp. Legend has it that Tipp was one of the early pioneering Germans that first brought exotic beer to Patagonia. So when I passed El Bolsón, I could not resist. Here was a chance to enjoy nature at its purest and also drink some of the finest beer that Argentina has to offer. By the way if you are ever there, make sure that you do a trip on the Andes Mountains. They are absolutely amazing. I particularly liked the organic component of Tipp blends. As you can probably tell, I am not really a fan of super commercialization particularly for this delicate industry that relies on local and carefully selected ingredients. When I visited the brewery, it was a delightfully understated operation tucked away in some idyllic woods. There is everything for everyone and it is all done with exquisite taste. I was in the mood for their malt and wheat brew which has a non-alcoholic option. That was an experience of a lifetime drinking a fine brew whilst also seeing its production process.


One of the things that struck me was the way in which people here were happy to socialize at all hours. For them drinking beer is never a binge activity nor is it a private one. You go out with friends (and even strangers like me) then carefully sample classics like the 3 Cordilleras. I understand that this brand came on the scene around 2008 so it is not really that old but it has somehow managed to capture the imagination of Colombians as well as occasional visitors like me. To me this is really what artisanal beer should be. I happened to pop into Medellin which is apparently the ground zero for fans of this beer. One of the more unusual choices I found was the rose. Honestly I have never tasted anything quite like it. This beer was mellow, almost like a sweet wine with really intoxicating hues. I do not think that this is a beer that can be enjoyed standing on ceremony. It is perfect for those informal occasions when you are just looking for ways to pass the time pleasantly. For the tourists there is a special custom-made program of entertainment that features local talent hosted by the brewery. Unfortunately my stay was too brief for me to enjoy this unique amalgamation of art and good old Colombian beer.


This was my last stop on this round. I had heard loads about the famous Cusqueña, a beer that is said to date back to the iconic days of the Incas. This is a firm favorite in the country but tourists like me have also helped to popularize it across the globe. I was intrigued by the brewing process which uses barley instead of the corn blend that we are normally used to in the USA. The actual drink itself is of the purest form possible with a very crisp taste. US can manufacturers can learn a lot from the Cusqueña packaging. This is by far the most sophisticated I have seen in all my travels. After Peru I had to return home. Hopefully I can come back soon to continue my beer tours. So far I have had lots of fun doing the testing…and writing as well.

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