Before coming to Paraguay I was forewarned by a good friend who had lived here and loves barley soda that it was a desolate wasteland.
Paraguay, as most of South America, is dominated by watery lagers. Each nation has their own. Paraguay has Pilsen, Argentina “enjoys” Quilmes, Brazil has Brahma. There are others, but all watery lagers of varying degrees. Baviera is comparatively decent. Polar, on the other hand, is quite possibly the worst. beer. ever.
Truthfully it makes some degree of sense. Wine and harder spirits dominate and when it’s 95F out and 80% humidity, watery lager hits the spot. Mostly because it’s served champagne style… in buckets of ice to keep it so cold you can barely taste it. Ah. Refreshing.
They also import from abroad. Fortunately wave after wave of German immigration going back 150 years has paved the way for Hacker-Pschorr or Paulaner. And, for whatever reason, the oh-so-tolerant Dutch have opted to inflict their worst of the worst upon the peoples of Paraguay.
But not so anymore. Or not entirely, at least.
Like the good old U.S. of A 30 years ago, people have tasted the good stuff and are no longer happy with watery lager. Brave souls made inroads with England and they now import Fullers. Several brewers have started up making craft… Sajonia, Herken.
(Let’s go to The Hop!)
Other intrepid, brave and noble souls have gone one step further. They brew their own. There is even a school, The Hop, that teaches courses. Sure, in the America it’s fairly easy… easy enough your humble author brewed a couple enjoyable batches. Here it’s a tad more challenging. I was lucky/privileged enough to join some of my new amigos to brew a batch of Death Metal Stout, just in time for the “frigid” Paraguayan winter.
Gotta say, I was mighty impressed with their rigs, including the copper plate cooling system. Even more impressed with the results. And not only did my hosts allow me to sample their beer, but some of the (extremely impressive) import stash, which included US beers I was never able to get my paws on.
In March, my favorite local watering hole/beer garden, Ninjas Con Apetitos was host to the first anniversary of the AcervaPY (Asociacion de Ceveceros Artesanales y Caseros del Paraguay) – Artisanal/Craft Brewers of Paraguay – in which craft and home brewers shared their wares. Apparently it was the first time several of the attendees had even tried craft beer… no kidding. And as a result they got a lot of positive response/press and the craft & home brewing movement has a lot more legitimacy and generated a lot of interest.
The beer here will only continue to get better.