Thursday, June 16, 2016

Practically on my way ...

Yup, I'm in the final countdown, with about 24 hours to go before I head to the airport.

I'm trying to get the final things done for the trip, which mostly consists of not forgetting to get each one done. It seems easy enough a task, but I've been fairly distracted by other things.  Nonetheless, I think I'm in pretty good shape with it all, and ready to start packing this evening while we watch the USA v. Ecuador game of the Copa America quarter finals.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Looking ahead ...

The tickets are bought --well, at least mine are-- and I'm starting to really look forward to being in Lima again.

Naturally, that brings up the question of what to do in my time there.  Of course there are some housekeeping and financial issues to take care of, but those will occupy a minimum of the time, so what to do with the rest?

Granted, most of the time I will be simply living and doing what that entails in Lima: going to market in the morning for lunch, meeting relatives lunch, seeing people in the evenings after they get home from work, getting together for Sunday lunch, playing with the nephews and nieces, house chores, and so on.  

I think I'll spend the next few weeks thinking up an emphasis for this trip.

Some ideas:
  •  continue to explore the craft beer scene;
  • visit some museums I've missed in the past;
  • visit some of Lima's more than 370 pre-Columbian archaeological sites;
  • having eaten at Central, Astrid & Gaston, and Malabar, currently rated Latin America's #1,  #3 and #20 top restaurants, to now eat at Maido and at La Mar, currently Latin America's #5 and #12--which would mean having dined at Peru's top 5;
  • ...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Looking back...

At the Lima airport, on my way back, on August 3rd.

So, looking back, how was the trip?

Obviously, it was excellent in all the ways that matter: time with family and friends.

Did I do or accomplish all that I wanted?  Yes, mostly.

Liz and I had our amazing meal at Central, and the fun pachamanca gathering at Diego's new home.  I did get to celebrate my birthday with the extended family and I was able to make it to Toti and Marina's anniversary celebration, even though I was not able to dance.

As for books, I had a small list, and I got them all, so I'm good on that front.

Unfortunately, my ability to get around and do stuff was curtailed by the injury to my knee, which kept me practically house-bound for a couple of weeks, so I didn't get to a couple of exhibits and talks that I wanted to attend, for example.

I did have on my list for the trip getting to know the Lima craft beer scene better --or indeed, at all.

I did know the Barranco Beer Company already and Cerveza De Tomas already --neither of which I was able to return to, despite my wishes-- but now I wanted to get to know more of the offerings, and if I could, installations, of other breweries.

Altogether, I tried twenty-seven different Peruvian beers on this trip.  That alone signals a seachange from when what was available were a smattering of offerings from Backus & Johnston and  Cerveceria del Sur, being principally lower or higher quality variations of the same type of golden or dark lagers.

I did not get to visit Cerveza Magdalena's brewhouse, despite having a personal invite to do so, due to my leg injury, but I did manage to tour Nuevo Mundo's brewhouse and attend the soft opening of their tap room, which was a lot of fun.  I also discovered the Hops brewery. It is nice having a brew-on-premises brewpub so easily accessible from San Felipe.

So, all in all, it was a good trip --which, but for my knee issue, could have been a bit better-- and I am already looking forward to next year.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Lima Craft Beer: Cerveza Hops

The first craft brewery I visited on this trip was actually Hops in Lima's Pueblo Libre district, just down the street from the Queirolo tavern and kitty-corner across the plaza from the Archaeology and Anthropology Museum.

Hops does not seem to emphasize its beer production side very much, but rather seems to have put its focus on its role as a multi-story discotheque and event space, with a brew-on-premises pub and restaurant included.   For example, the fermentation tanks are visible to the public, but are located on a second story and in a part of the building that, while open, is not utilized during the day.

That is too bad, because one of the challenges that craft brewers have in Peru is overcoming Peruvians' unfamiliarity with brewing and beer styles other than Pilsner-style lagers and dark lagers, and educating the public on them can only help the craft beer market grow.  And I think people would be interested, and that in itself would draw more customers.

The house beer menu

In any case, Hops has a decent selection of house beers brewed right on the premises, and even claims to have Peru's first and, so far, only beer made with  smoked malt.

Unfortunately, they were out of the Smoked beer and of both the Bock and the Stout, on the day I visited, but I did get to try some of the others.
The beers were nice.  Not as good as what we'd expect from a quality craft brewery here in the US, but definitely drinkable and enjoyable.  We must remember that the craft brewing scene in Peru is very new and ingredients --particularly hop varieties and specialty yeast strains-- are hard to come by.  Given those constraints Hops deserves to be commended for being one of the pioneers of craft brewing in Lima, having been established nine years ago.

After enjoying the Pale in the afternoon, with lunch, I returned in the evening to sample more accompanied by my dad. (One can tell that this visit was earlier than my visit to Nuevo Mundo brewery because my hair hand't yet been trimmed.)

I liked all the beers I tried, but I particularly liked the Dunkel. It could easily have been a lager with some color added, but instead it had more body and a slight roasted character which I liked and, actually, was looking for (I had really wanted to try the stout).

Pale ale
Wheat beer

Av. General Manuel Vivanco N° 785
Pueblo Libre - Lima - Peru

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lima Craft Beer: Nuevo Mundo brewery and draft bar

 Two weeks ago, while trying to locate a craft brewery that I had an invitation to tour, I injured my knee and so, even once I had the correct address, I was forced to take a pass on the invitation.  Then, a few days later, I had to skip another brewery tour and guest list-only soft opening of their tap room.

Last Friday, I was finally well enough that I felt able to take on the tour, and so I got myself and Juancho on the guest list for it.   The young woman signing us in was somewhat incredulous that there were two of us with the same name and surname, until she saw our IDs!

The brewery was Nuevo Mundo, in Surquillo.

Their facilities are small, producing only 75 barrels a month, but they are expanding into a building that is being constructed next door, on the same property, that will allow them to install larger kettles and fermenters.

The brewery was started by a couple of Frenchmen, one of whom, Alain -originally from Alsace- gave us the tour and explained the brewing process, ingredients, and different beer styles.  No small feat, considering that most Peruvians have not had exposure to many styles of beer and brewing terminology.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been easy for small brewers to break into the beer market, although Cereveceria Barbarian, has done a lot to pave the way by getting its products into several major grocery store chains - Metro, Wong, and Plaza Vea.  Most access to craft beers is through a few restaurants and by directly ordering from the brewery.

Nuevo Mundo does have a small bottle shop and bar at the brewery where one can buy bottles --or cases!-- of brew, or put down a few draughts of their selection of British and Belgian-style ales.  However, they are hoping to expand their exposure and sales volume through their new Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar located in an upstairs space right across the street from the mian park in Miraflores, on busy and touristy Avenida Larco.

Miraflores city hall hasn't come back with the final permit approvals, so Nuevo Mundo has been carrying out an extended soft-opening of the Draft Bar for invited guests.   As part of our tour event we had entry to that evening's session, for which Nuevo Mundo had secured a number of guest beers --including a yummy sour ale with sauco from the Cerverceria del Valle Sagrado, in Cusco-- and rolled out a brand new special offering of their own, an imperial India pale ale (about 8% ABV).  We also got the opportunity to compare the bottle and draft versions of their Barihuait barley wine (which I like a lot!).

The space is nice and well-appointed, and the staff is quite nice.  I hope the bar does well for the brewery.

I think it will.

Nuevo Mundo brewery
1227 Prolongacion San Lorenzo
Surquillo - Lima

Nuevo Mundo Draft Bar
Av. Larco 421 (upstairs)
Miraflores - Lima

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Yesterday, I happened to look out the window at just the right time to catch a few glimpses of a newish denizen of San Felipe: a squirrel.

Squirrels are not native to the Lima area and were not present in this part of the city when I was a kid, though there were some living wild on the zoo's grounds.  This squirrel is an example of the Guayaquil squirrel (Sciurius stramineus), which is native to southern Ecuador and northern Peru.  Their home range ends several hundred miles to the north of Lima, but they have been introduced to the city accidentally or intentionally, probably on more than one occasion, at least as far back as 40 or 45 years ago.

Some years ago --maybe five or six-- I spotted a squirrel in San Felipe, but it was being hunted by a hawk.  Subsequently, I neither saw any more nor did I hear a ny further reference to any squirrel here until late last year,  when a neighbor posted a photo of one to FaceBook, indicating that it was the only one.

It may be the only one or one of a small number, but I had seen neither hair nor hide of any until yesterday, when I spotted this fellow (girl?) drinking nectar from the blooms of a balsawood tree.

Anyway, it is interesting to me to observe the changes in the local fauna over time.  Not only is the bird population that lives here different in many ways from when I was a kid, but now I have confirmation of a new mammalian presence.