Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Craft Beer in Ayacucho

This post originally appeared in one of my other blogs,

This past weekend I traveled from Lima to the city of Ayacucho (aka Huamanga), where my family is originally from, on my dad's side. There, I had a great time meeting Richy Ledesma, a craft brewer whom I'd been in contact with on FaceBook and who is also friends with a couple of my cousins.

Richy received me at his place, Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo, and plied me with beers as we spent the evening talking about craft beer and other subjects.

Entirely self-taught, Richy is one of only two craft brewers in Ayacucho, a city 363 road miles from Lima and 9,000 feet up in the Andes.  He produces four or five batches a week on a 100-liter system, which he mainly distributes in bottles, which he fills by hand and carbonates with priming sugar.

In the evenings he opens his little taproom, which is located in a fourth floor walk-up space in downtown, and dispenses beer from his two-tap draft system.

The relative isolation means that everything that goes into a beer but the water, has to be imported. Once to Peru, and thence from Lima to Huamanga. It also means that Richy is fighting against a lack of popular knowledge about beer styles and about hand-crafted beer.

Further, it also means that Richy does not have easy access to examples of the styles he wishes to brew nor to a support community of fellow brewers.  One result of that is that some of El Oráculo's beers are not quite consistent with what we, in the US, would consider the standard for those beers --for example, Punana Porter falls a bit shy when it comes to body  and mouthfeel.

Richy, however, is undaunted and by dint of hard work in what is essentially a one-man operation, he is opening doors for his brews in town and elsewhere.  His beers are even poured at events and festivals as far away as Lima.

El Oráculo's tastiest beers are, by far, Judas and La Vidente.

Judas is a 7.5% abv, 30 IBU, 13 SRM, smooth pale ale with a lovely white head.  I didn't take any notes, so I'm going from memory here, but I believe Richy said that he used Columbus and Kent Goldings hops in this one.

La Vidente is El Oráculo's biggest beer, coming in at 13% abv.  One wouldn't know it, though, when drinking it. It has a bit of warmth, but is not "hot" with alcohol. Rather, tropical fruit notes predominate in the mouth and nose.

If you like craft beer and supporting small independent enterprises, El Oráculo is well worth checking out should you find yourself in Ayacucho.  


Cervecería Artesanal El Oráculo
Calle Nazareno, 2do Pasaje #133
Ayacucho, Peru

Back in Ayacucho

The week following my arrival in Peru I journeyed to Ayacucho in order to spend a few days back in my beloved Huamanga.

Huamanga's main plaza

It has been four years since I had been there last, and I was indeed missing it.  Unlike other trips there in past years, I was on my own and with no agenda other than to just hang out and be there.

Hostal Via Via Plaza

Also, unlike most other years, I did not stay in the old family house, but instead opted for the Hostal Via Via, on the plaza.  The Via Via is located in a converted Spanish-era mansion, that had also previously been the Hotel Sucre, overlooking the main plaza.

So, I just hung out, wandered around a bit downtown, and took in the sights and sounds.

Monument to Gen. Jose de Sucre, victor in the Battle of Ayacucho

28 de Julio Street, looking from the plaza toward the Independence Arch, and the central market.

Church of the Company of Jesus (c. 1700)


One food that people just can't seem to grasp when it is described to them is the granadilla.  Telling them that it is a cousin of the passion fruit just doesn't quite do it.  Describing it is even worse.

It looks like an orange maraca or baby rattle. The inside is filled with gray seeds covered in gray gel, and it kind of looks like snot.  You don't chew or spit out the seeds, but just slurp it all down.

In fact, however, granadillas are awesome.  They have a mild, sweet flavour and a light aroma of ... granadilla.  The pulp goes down really easily and babies love it. They are fun and easy to eat --not messy at all-- and refreshing.  

Easily one of Peru's favorite fruits.