July 9, 2019 | The Rare Barrel
A story told by Co-founder Alex Wallash
This story starts like many others… one friend introduces you to their friends however, this time around it doesn't stop there, some magic happens. In our case, our good friend Pete Slosberg introduced us to his friends Semilla, Ian, and Pisa from Juguetes Perdidos (a brewery in Argentina) and Oscar and German from Cerveceria Granizo (a brewery in Chile). Little did we know that we’d become friends and I'd have the pleasure to visit them in South America a year later.
Festival de Cervezas Extremas Juguetes Perdidos (May 25th - 26th, 2019)
This adventure began in Buenos Aires, Argentia, where I started off with the Festival de Cervezas Extremas Juguetes Perdidos. To my best knowledge this was the first festival in Latin America that was foucused on serving barrel-aged and sour beers! There were 62 participating breweries (mostly from Latin America with a select handful from the rest of the world) that poured their beers in a futbol (read: soccer) stadium in Juguetes Perdido’s neighborhood. Over 1,500 people attended the festival each day that had traveled from all across Latin America. For this first festival of it’s kind, the feeling in the air was electric.
The festival was EPIC. It was a huge honor that The Rare Barrel was one of the handfull of breweries from the USA that was able to participate. This was our first time sharing our beer in South America and we're excited about the opportunity. Personally I was incredibly excited to try some amazing mixed-culture and sour beers made in South America and really enjoyed tasting Catharina Sours, which I would say are closest described to a fruited Berliner Weise… light acidity, bright fruit character, balanced, and delightfully crushable. It's hard to describe all of the tasty beers I was able to try at this festival because there were so many!!!
I shared our sour beers...
And made some friends...
Collaboration & Asado
After the festival on May 27th, 2019, I had an amazing day brewing with our friends at Juguetes Perdidos. I got to enjoy many of their beers (which were fantastic) and listened to how Semilla taught homebrewing for free in Argentina for 15 years and had 16 barrels of sour beer in his living room before starting Juguetes Perdidos.
We brewed a beer with a simple grist of 2-row and unmalted barley, mashed at a high temperature to favor some longer chain dextrins, added a small amount of bittering hops to the boil, and then knocked-out the beer into their new coolship!
Our brew was the second time they’ve used the coolship and from what we know, Juguetes Perdidos has the first coolship in South America! (*Note: it was the beginning of winter in South America with temperatures that were ideal for a coolship project.)
The brew day turned into an amazing hang sesh with ~20 people from 10 different breweries and asado (aka Argentinian BBQ). If you ever visit Argentina, you must try asado… it’s delectable. Free-range meat smoked over a wood fire and seasoned with nothing but salt, it’s simple and perfect. There is a real sense of community at Juguetes Perdidos, they have asado every Friday afternoon together, but if you don't have the pleasure of joining them, Los Talas is an amazing asado joint that I hope to visit again.
Hanging with Ian, Pisa, and Semilla on the roof of Juguetes Perdidos...
Dinner, Beers, and Conversation
When the collab day was over, we headed over to Belgica, a craft beer bar and restaurant where we had a beer pairing dinner with four of our beers from The Rare Barrel. Great food was enjoyed...
And stories were shared...
Tuesday night was quite special too, as Phil from Almanac, Zack from KCBC, and I got to speak to a theater full of brewers, homebrewers, and enthusiasts about how we make beer...
I was supposed to leave for Chile Wednesday morning, but due to a nation-wide strike, my flight was canceled. No worries...that gave a day to hang out with Mati and Nico at Dos Dingos for another asado while they collab’d with KCBC...
and some time to see Tor at Strange Brewing, who has some really cool mixed-culture projects in barrels right now.
Waves, Beers, and More BBQ
Chile got off to a super chill start. I spent the first 3 nights with Jason, a surfer from California who has lived in Chile for 23 years and now grows hops in Chile under the name Lupulos Mantagua. Surfs and grows hops? Yea... we hit it off!
By day, we traveled around in search of surf, by night, we talked hops. On Saturday night, Oscar from Cervezeria Granizo invited us over to his house for a BBQ, where we were joined by our friend Peter Bouckaert (Purpose Brewing and Cellars) and where I was reuinited with my travel buddy Phil Emerson (Almanac).
Congreso De Barrel Aged & Sour Beer and Collaboration
On Monday, June 3rd, 2019, I had the honor of speaking at the first Congreso Barrel Aged & Sour Beer, which was the first conference in Chile (and likely Latin America) specifically focused on producing barrel-aged and sour beer.
It was incredibly rewarding and special to speak on behalf of The Rare Barrel and share what we know about making sour beer along with other speakers like Peter Bouckaert (Purpose Brewing), Oscar (Cervezeria Granizo), Phil (Almanac), and more. HUGE shoutout to Cerveceria Granizo for organizing and hosting this conference!
After the conference, we headed to Valpariso for a late night of celebrating where I couldn’t get enough of Granizo’s IRA … India Rosemary Ale. It might sound a little crazy on paper, but wow, that beer is amazing!
On the last day in Chile, I was happy to spend it making a beer with our friends at Granizo. We brewed some wort to make a saison base beer, but were lucky to score some whole cone hops grown by my new friend Jason at Lupulos Mantagua. The plan for this beer is to innoculate it with some of our mixed-culture after primary fermentation and then let the beer age and acidify in some Chilean Oak and Alerce barrels.
I am incredbily thankful to those who helped make this trip to Argentia and Chile so amazing! In particular I'd like to thank Pete Slosberg for introducing us to our new South American friends, Juguetes Perdidos in Argentina for hosting the Festival de Cervezas Extremas and for asking us to make beer with you all, Cerveceria Granizo in Chile for hosing the Congreso De Barrel Aged and Sour Beers, Miguel Rivas (@TheBeerTrekker) for taking amazing photos in Argentina, and all the amazing brewers in South America I met along the way who were so welcoming.