Beers of Uruguay

Uruguay is far better known for its wine than its beer. It’s a well-deserved reputation: their take on the heavy tannat grape (the French only ever use it for brandy) is light, juicy, and absolutely delicious.

But there is a craft beer scene if you know where to look. After a little searching, we came across Choperia Mastra at Mercado Agricola. While my partner busied herself by playing Jenga terribly, I got stuck into a locally brewed tasting flight.

From left to right: peanuts, Golden Ale, Del Mercado, American IPA, Scottish Ale, more peanuts

Golden Ale

Allegedly this is an English style beer. I’m intrigued to see how the brewer has interpret that.

It’s golden, appropriately enough. The aroma is fairly wheaty, malty and orangey, not unlike Blue Moon. On the tongue it’s light and inoffensive. It’s definitely an ale, but along the lines of EPA or Marston’s (the same?).

This golden ale is fine, but we didn’t travel halfway across the globe to drink mediocre beer. 2

Del Mercado

The Jenga is progressing well. We’ve exhausted first few easy pieces that slip out with the slightest resistance, and have made it to the trickier stage. Meanwhile, marking a change from the more established beer nations, here we have a Uruguayan style beer. Again, I’m intrigued to see what this means.

Del Mercado is a walnut dark brown in colour. Darker and maltier on the nose than the golden ale, with a hit of cinnamon. The flavour is all cinnamon. Which is fair enough, given that based on my rudimentary Spanish I believe this has been brewed with apple and cinnamon added.

I’m not sure calling this a Uruguayan style beer does the country justice. It’s not the first time brewers have added adjuncts to hide a boring beer, and I suspect that’s what’s happened here. 1

American IPA

My partner has given up on playing Jenga seriously, and is now stacking the pieces on top vertically.

We take our Jenga very seriously

This American IPA is pale gold and clear. Refreshingly, the aroma on this beer is fresh and fruity: mostly grapefruit, but other tropical fruits too. There’s more of that on the palate, which is rather dry and tart.

It’s a decent beer. The best of the bunch so far. 3

Scottish Ale

At long last, I’ve overextended myself and collapsed the Jenga tower. Looks like I’m paying for dinner later.

Normally Scottish ale is one of my favourite styles, so I’m excited for this one. It’ starts well – a dark lacquer brown with an aroma of oak, chocolate, and charcoal.

Then it all falls apart, sadly. The flavour is like cheap hot chocolate, with a bit of coca cola and a sickly caramel finish; far too sweet and not powerful enough for my liking. At least it’s a good hit for malt lovers in a country where malty beers are all too hard to find. 2

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