Last night in Lima: How my pursuit of craft beer in Peru made the world a smaller place

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Barbarian microbiologist Daniella De La Puente in the lab at Summit // Photo courtesy of Summit Brewing

In the months following that legendary night I remained in contact with the guys from Barbarian. I followed updates of their new brewery progress. In October, they reached out about an idea we had chatted about over Salchipapas and Lima Pale Ale at Cañas y Tapas back in March. They asked if anyone in the Minnesota craft brewery world might be willing to host their newest full-time employee, a microbiologist named Daniella, for a few weeks of internships. I sent a few e-mails, made a few phone calls, and boom—craft beer hospitality Minnesota-style came through big.

Daniella spent five weeks with Minnesota brewers and members of the community who were kind enough to share their time, energy, and trade secrets with a young aspiring brewer and a brewery 4,000 miles away. Brewer-shadow shifts at Dangerous Man and Fulton Brewing Company in Minneapolis were followed by a multi-week immersion into the QA/QC program at Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul under the direction and tutelage of Paul Sadosky and Geri Kustelski. I remember speaking with her the day that she had the opportunity, for the first time ever, to test Barbarian’s beer in a professional brewery lab. She went back to Lima with a wealth of new information not just about how craft beer looks, feels, and tastes in Minnesota, but actionable intelligence about Barbarian’s beer—effectively helping raise the bar of craft beer globally. Daniella has since moved to Minnesota and lives with her husband in Stillwater, training at Lift Bridge as part of their lab and cellar team.

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A Peruvian sunset, Máncora District, Peru  // Photo by Joseph Alton

 

It has been three years this week since craft beer conspired that fateful night to make this world a smaller place. Since then, Barbarian has outgrown their 2,400 liter/month brewhouse in La Molina and built a new brewery capable of producing more than four times as much. Now available at more than 350 bars and restaurants in Lima, the guys are in the midst of opening their own “beer hall” this month in Lima’s tourist-facing Miraflores District. The new 150-square-meter establishment will feature a full kitchen serving elevated American pub food alongside 30 taps of craft beer—most of it local.

Fresh off a recent partnership with Evil Twin to create the Crazy Llama Barley Wine, Barbarian is considering their export options, dipping their toe into distilling, and is currently planning some beer travels of their own—to the legendary Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij in Belgium and the new Stone Brewing in Berlin.

I still can’t sip on a tulip of Duchesse without fondly recalling that fateful night in Peru three years ago. It’s stories like Barbarian’s that make me optimistic about the future of craft beer globally. The collaboration and cooperation exhibited by the craft beer community is second to none. And while the passion and attitude of a young brewery like Barbarian is inspiring, it’s the connections their beer makes between living, breathing people that is their true craft.

 

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