In an election year, and even worse, in an election month, do you think I’m going to be allowed out to climb out green and pleasant hills, only to roll back down them a tiny bit worse for wear after sampling a few beers?
That’s right, it was going to be a resounding “no” to my attending Villa General Belgrano’s Oktoberfest this year, so I didn’t even bother asking. And perhaps that was a good thing, seeing as Argentina’s pride and beery joy didn’t make it on to a well-known new wire service’s top 10 of global Oktoberfests this year, and was even outranked by Ho Chi Minh City’s infamous drinking extravaganza.
So if I can’t return to the rolling green and pleasant hills and drink like it’s 2009 — and in fairness I did make it two years ago and just about made it back too, albeit perhaps in shreds rather than in one entire piece — then let the pleasant greenery come to me!
That’s right, a little sliver of Oktoberfest made it to deepest, darkest San Telmo on Wednesday evening. With a plentiful guest list from the offing, they soon started to drop like flies, perhaps consumed by a fear of going up against me, English woman seasoned at drinking, and El Westie, Argentine man, seasoned at drinking and of Swedish origin.
In fact, they had good reason to worry as the third and final member of Wednesday’s hand-picked tasting crew lived in Córdoba until she was 15, and if anyone knows about supping a sneaky underage beverage behind a bale of hay, it’s going to be Georgina.
Plenty of organization and preparation had gone into San Telmoktoberfest, and I’ve been busy eyeing up beer bottles for a few weeks. An organic ale picked up from the market on Bonpland here, a handmade red lager from a random bar there, snapping up some original tasting beverages has been the name of my tasting game.
Now that October is in full bloom, the date had been decided, most of the guests had the fear (maybe they were just worried about trying to get a sip in, what with El Westie being around) and the 10 bottles of beers had been selected. And no, they weren’t all green…
The idea was to hold a blind tasting session, so I mixed up them up as best I could, clink clink, given that they were in the fridge. Given that this could get a little dull, reading wise, I’m going to delve into particular highlights, and lowlights, and engage you with the choicest of comments.
Drum roll, enter number one. Apart from some fumbling with the bottle opener (not sure what was wrong with me), Georgina declared it smelt of “smoked trout, I felt it was “rather like sticking your head into a lit fireplace” while El Westie started as he meant to continue, making us peer through the glass to assess the cloudiness. And it was very hard to see through to the other side.
The man among us was very pleased to commence with a smoky ale, and marked it straight off with nine points out of 10, while Georgina and I both gave it an eight. The wind didn’t blow the smoke away as the clue is in the name and the Ahumada Kallfu from the Viejo Lahuan brewery looked like it would end up being one of the night’s top scorers.
A dependable yellow brew, which was declared to have “personality” by El Westie, scored even-steven sevens from all the tasters for its strong citrus tones — grapefruit hit the back of my throat instantly while the hue of Patagonia brewery’s Weisse can only be described as lemon. Apparently it also has hints of clove and and coriander which none of us picked up on, but it works well when accompanied by sushi, so at least we did something right.
Making a name for itself over the past eight years is Santa Fe’s Otro Mundo, which conjures up its beers at the former San Carlos brewery. Although it has several brews available, including the Strong Red Ale and the Golden Ale which the panel tasted, it was the eponymous beer with red tones recently released as a tribute to the German drinking extravaganza which scored highest with 19.5 points.
Another one to grab our attention was the Schrödinger Deep Copper, and its tempting wafts of coffee helped it score 24 points. Fabricated pretty much by a one-man operation for pleasure, the only place I know you can get this red lager is from Tekirisi café on Mexico and Tacuarí.
That was just pipped by half a point and El Bolsón’s Araucana Red Strong for its smooth, chocolatey tones. Stiff competition in the red category.
But it was over as soon as it started. The overall winner was Viejo Lahuan’s smoky Ahumada Kallfu with 25 points, the first beer supped. And that was San Telmoktoberfest, for your and, definitely, our pleasure.