Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Home (Brewing) for the Holidays.

Supposedly the Costa Rican "summer" starts in December, with hot and sunny days that help you forget that your home country is half-buried in snow. Instead it's been bruxellois gray, windy as hell, and today in the neighborhood of 20°C or 68°F up here on the mountainside. This would seem unfair to spoiled expats who think they're here to enjoy the weather. It rains for months and months, then dry season comes and hey, where's the goddamn sunshine? Awww, that's nice, thank you, thanks for your sympathies. But don't weep any big man-tears for me. I'm celebrating.

What do those temperatures mean to you? To many of you 20°C or 68°F might mean a long-sleeve T-shirt or light jacket. But to at least a few, the first word that pops into your heads is fermentation. It's a pretty ideal temperature for most ale yeasts to go to work. And so there are 10 gallons of hoppy extra pale happily bubbling away in my office closet, with the windows thrown open to let more of that cool air in.

Yet it's still warm enough to brew and drink and grill outside. Feliz Navidad.

Now for some international beer news:

Brazilian style: Stephen Beaumont has posted his take on certain beers and breweries from his trip to Brazil. Most intriguing to me: an IPA from Cervejaria Colorado brewed with rapadura sugar. In Costa Rica this type of sugar is called tapa de dulce, and it's basically raw, crystallized cane juice. I used the stuff for my strong Christmas stout, and it lends strength, dryness, and a subtle caramel-plum flavor. Now maybe I'll have to try it in an IPA. Not to mention visit Brazil. Go read Stephen's post and thank him for the info on Brazil's up-and-comers.

For Love of Mother: Yesterday I mentioned that Chez Moeder Lambic in Brussels was pouring what appeared to be a new beer from Jandrain-Jandrenouille, still a relative newcomer that has gained acclaim for its hop-forward saison-style beers. The Moeder Lambic crew listed the beer as "La Mére des Moeder's"--something like the mother's mother. But brewer-owners Alexandre Dumont and Stéphane Meulemans tell me that in fact the name is "L'amére des Moeder," which could be "mom's bitterness" but obviously refers to Moeder Lambic herself. I'm told the ale is amber in color, aromatic, hop-bitter, and exclusive for the pub. And no doubt very dangerous.

Costa Rican Craft Beer is Back: It's been more than a year since Cerveceria K&S closed its doors and its Chivo Blanco lager disappeared from shelves and bar coolers. Then there was nothing. Volcano Brew up at Hotel Tilawa was the first to break the spell, with beer pouring there a few weeks ago. And now, according to co-owner Brandon Nappy, a few places in the Valle Central are officially serving beer from Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Co. I don't know exactly where yet. But I'll find out.

It's was a wet and cold year in Costa Rica without craft beer. Now, I think, I see the sun peeking out again. More to come.


  1. Thanks for the link, Joe. Much of interest happening in Brazil, even if the majority of it is so far below the radar it's almost invisible.

    Have you considered/heard about the Great South Beer Cup (http://southbeercup.com)? A good way, perhaps, to bring yourself up to speed on what's happening not just in Brazil, but across South America.

  2. Interesting. So far all the participating breweries are from Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

    It looks to be part of Argentina's version of a "craft beer week," a semana cervecera. Cool.

    So Stephen, are you on the panel of experts?

  3. Not true, sorry. There are a couple from Uruguay.

  4. Indeed I am, Joe. And bear in mind when looking at the participating breweries that we're still five months away. Hopefully more breweries will sign on in the new year.