Friday, February 17, 2012

Where to Buy (Good) Beer in Buenos Aires


Getting beer on draught at your neighbourhood bar or from a corner store is easily accomplished. It can be a little tougher to find stores that specialize in Argentine craft beer and foreign imports. You can’t drink Quilmes forever!
Here is a guide to some of the noble stores in Buenos Aires that cater to the discerning beer drinker’s need for top notch suds. Each of these locations carries at least one beer that you can’t find at the others, so make sure you visit them all.
Chatting with customers in Bodega Cerveceria (Photo: Trillia Fidei-Bagwell)
Bodega Cervecera is a Palermo Soho gem a short walk up Thames from Plaza Italia. The store specialises in beer but also carries some wine brands. They carry brands such as Gülmen, Beagle, La Loggia and Die Eisenbrucke. They have gluten free beers, hard to find brands from Belgium, China, and even a beer I had never seen or heard of before from Korea.
Store owner Sebastian Piñol is a friendly guide to the products he carries and is always looking for new things to fill his shelves. If you have a product in mind that he doesn’t carry he is usually able to order it in. Stop in and sample a beer or two from the fridge before deciding what you’ll take home.
I recommend Beagle’s stout, Die Eisenbrucke’s Imperial Stout and Kolsch, and Gülmen Lager Ahumada. It also has the best price I have seen for a bottle of Grosa, a barrel aged Belgian tripel co-created by Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla.
Cervelar is around the corner from the famous pubs of Renconquista, like Downtown Matias (Photo: Trillia Fidei-Bagwell)
Cervelar is an interesting hybrid between a store and a bar. It is like a beer store with tables and waiters. You can order a draught, take bottles to go or do both. They boast two locations the widest selection I know of when it comes to Argentine and Foreign beers (though they don’t have everything). The original location is in Microcentroright around the corner from the famous pubs of Reconquista and their newest location is in Belgrano.
Prices tend to be a bit higher here on some brands (Grosa, for example). It always pays to compare when you see two stores with the same products. I recommend any of the products by Abdij Deleuze, an Argentine micro-micro brewery that specialises in Belgian style beers. Grab a couple Belgian originals off the shelf to compare side by side.
La Francisca (Photo: Trillia Fidei-Bagwell)
La Francisca is a feria de campo (country fair) themed store located in Palermo Soho, a short walk from Av. Scalabrini Ortiz. The store has a rustic feel and is as close to the friendly, smiley experience of buying at a market stand as you can get without a long drive into the country.
Save for some Schneider lagers, the beer selection is all Argentine and artisanal. The best part about La Francisca is enjoying a beer on the outdoor bench with one of their made to order sandwiches. Sandwiches are cheap (starting at $10) and the cost is based on the weight of the meats and cheeses you pick. Served on a fresh baguette, they are some of the best sandwiches around and certainly some of the cheapest to be found in Palermo.
I recommend the pastrami and smoked cheese, enjoyed on the sidewalk with the beer of your choice. Artisinal beers are all $15 meaning you can enjoy a sandwich and a beer for under $30. Look for Sixtofer’s IPA, one of my favourite IPAs in the country.
Antares impresses with its draught beer offerings (Photo: Trillia Fidei-Bagwell)
Antares is one of the go-to locations for draught beer, but did you know they also sell bottles to go? Antares can be found in grocery stores (and some of the stores in this list) but you won’t find a cheaper bottle of their products anywhere else. When you consider you can get a 660ml bottle for $13.50 and a draught pint costs $24.00 outside of Happy Hour it pays to get some Antares in your fridge.
Make sure you show up before 10pm to avoid disappointment. Once the beer drinking gets into high gear they don’t sell bottles to go anymore. Antares has a solid lineup of year-round beers but keep an eye out for their seasonal beers. Right now the seasonal beer is Antares Bitter. I highly recommend this beer. It has a gorgeous label and authentic British flavour to match.
Natural Deli is both a cafe and a store (Photo: Trillia Fidei-Bagwell)
Natural Deli has three locations sprinkled between Recoleta (Laprida 1672), Las Cañitas (Gorostiga 1776) and Palermo (República Árabe Siria 3090). It is a mix between a natural food store and a café/restaurant carrying high-quality foods of all kinds. Their beer selection follows the theme of quality. They don’t carry Argentine artisanal beers, instead focusing on imported beers such as Duvel and Chimay.
You can have a beer sitting down with your meal or take a couple home with you to go with your purchases. This is a great place to try your hand at matching beers with food. Natural Deli is chock full of options for picking up picadas and the drinks to go with them.
I recommend Duvel with your choice of cheese, nuts or preserves.
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This Article originally appeared in the Argentina Independent