This is part two on our foray into the micro breweries in Argentina's Lakes District. You can read part one here.
El Bolsón is a great spot about two hours south of Bariloche. Nestled in a valley that runs north to south, it is famous for its mountains and craft market.
The Lay of the Land
As the hops are locally grown we expected to find a few breweries humming away and we weren't disappointed. By our count there are seven, but we suspect there might be a couple more:
- El Bolsón*
- El Dragon Verde**
- Otto Tipp*
Those I marked with a * are covered in this post. The breweries marked with a ** I tried in a bottle and are not covered here in detail. The rest we didn't get to as we were only there for the weekend. Please feel free to share your experience if you try them and I will duly update this post (or link to your review).
We should also note that nearby Lago Pueblo also has a few beers to boast about. While we didn't go there we did try Pilker, which was for sale at the market. This is also covered below.
Available at the Market
Both Cerveza Parapapoto and Pilker were for sale at the market when we swung through. To my joy both had a range available on tap, which is awesome.
Parapapoto are keen brewers. The thirsty tourist is lucky to choose from an I.P.A., Pilsen, Weizen and a Stout. I chose the Weizen as had not yet seen it for sale. It was very fruity and full flavoured. In fact, you can almost see the fruit in the photo above. Those keen to try it should be warned though: mine came with a lot of sediment, which caused the beer to go bitter on the tongue. Don't expect to drink the whole thing if you order a pint.
The staff at the tourism office reckon that a few brews are available in Lago Pueblo. We didn't have time to get there but apparently it is worth a day trip (it is at the end of the river in the photo below).
On the day, only a stout was available. By this point I had noticed that almost everyone made a stout, which is understandable given the climate. I tend to avoid heavy beers but when in Rome…
This one surprised me. It looks like a stout but tastes like an ale. A fresh alternative to a coffee or chocolate heavy version, easy to drink.
Affiliated with the Otto Tipp brewery, Apunto Restaurant is a classy affair that provides good food and live music. It can be found on Isla Malvinas, near the intersection with General Roca.
Five beers are available on tap: Negra Fuerte (strong stout), Dorada Fuerte (strong lager), Gringa (pilsen), Mestica (red ale) and a seasonal fruit beer. I went with the stout, and yes, it was strong! Came at me from several angles – not too bitter with balanced coffee, malt and chocolate flavours. Quite good.
Since we weren't going further afield that night I also ordered the fruit beer, which on the menu is called Con Frambuesa (with fruit). This version was a raspberry lager and it tasted very much like fermented raspberries. Very nice, Saskia also enjoyed.
El Bolsón Pub
Anyone passing through El Bolsón must make a pilgrimage to the brewery of the same name, which can be found 2 kms north from town. They make a huge range of beers and you can camp there. Crazy.
We were out of luck though, as it was closed for winter, so we opted for choice number two: their pub in town. Apparently this is not as good and I can believe it. The pub was fairly basic, just wooden tables and benches with an outdoor beer garden. Might be better in summer. Can be found on Avenida San Martin, near the junction with Pellegrini.
We were able to choose from a Pale Ale, Red Ale, Weizen, Stout, Smoked Stout, Winter Stout, three fruit beers (black current, cherry and raspberry), Chili Beer and a Honey Beer. You can see why they provide camping at the brewery.
I went with the Winter Stout, again because stouts seem popular here. I expected something heavy with a hint of charcoal but found that it was sweet, easy to drink and refreshing. I would go so far as to say it was my pick of the stouts. We also tried the Pale Ale and the Weizen, which were good. Would recommend the degustation.
Bonus Points: Araucana and El Dragon Verde
As mentioned at the beginning, these beers were bought from the supermarket but Araucana can be found on tap in town. Araucana makes a Bock, Weizen Dunkel, Weizen and a Pale Ale. Their bottles are fairly hefty and easy to recognise. I think I tried the Weizen but didn't take notes. El Dragon Verde make a Stout, an Extra Strong Stout, a Golden Ale and a Chili Beer (Rojiza). I tried the Chili Beer and enjoyed it. It was strong and woke me up, but very drinkable. Let me know if you find where it can be served on tap.
And so ends our beer bonanza! Thanks for reading, I hope this is helpful for anyone planning a trip to the Lakes District. We had a great time uncovering the many beers hidden in Bariloche and El Bolsón. To my knowledge no tour companies offer trips to the breweries, which is a shame, but on the upside that means there's much to discover. Get into it!
Note: most beers were labelled in Spanish. I found that the word 'Rubia' was applied to lagers and pale ales. Unfortunately I discovered this late in the game and am not sure whether I have incorrectly described a beer as a Pale Ale. Welcome any corrections.