Looking Back Post #6: Latin American Brewery of the Year

(This is the fourth of several posts detailing what I found to be the breweries of the year for 2011 in various regions. Note that there is no science to the choices I have made, just my own highly subjective reasoning as detailed in each post. You can find my pick of the Brewery of the Year for Ontario here, Brewery of the Year for Canada here and U.S. Brewery of the Year here.)

The year past was one in which I had the privilege of acquainting myself with many breweries from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and elsewhere in Latin America, which makes deciding on this honouree all the more difficult. No doubt there are several worthy candidates brewing up great things in difficult market conditions, such as Cervejaria Colorado, Cervejaria Bamberg and Bodebrown Cervejaria & Escola in Brazil; Cerveza Jerome, Cerveza Zeppelin and Cerveza Artesanal Antares in Argentina; Cerveceria Kross, Szot Microbrewery and Tübinger Microbrews in Chile; Costa Rica’s Craft Brewing Company in, well, Costa Rica; and Cerveceria Minerva and Cerveceria Primus in Mexico. But as I looked back on my notes and impressions, one brewery stood out.

My choice for Latin American Brewery of the Year for 2011 is Falke Bier.

Brewer and owner Marco Falcone’s beers caught my attention the moment I first tasted his Estrada Real IPA, which I thought more akin to an ESB, but nonetheless enjoyed tremendously. Then I  had a chance to linger over lunch with Falcone and sample many of his other brews, including the Ouro Preto, a schwarzbier for which he toasts the grain himself in a coffee-style roaster, the stylish Falke Bier Pilsen and Falcone’s attempt at a tripel, the somewhat variable Monasterium, which is spicy-fruity treat that in my opinion falls short of the stylistic mark, but remains a most appealing tipple.

What sealed the deal, however, was sampling his Vivre pour Vivre in Buenos Aires a number of months later. Lightly tart and quenching, this fruit ale undergoes lengthy barrel aging, exposure to lactobacillus culture and a final fermentation with native jabuticaba fruit, resulting in a beer of appetizing and spicy fruitiness and great character. I have read that it was the original product of a mistake in the brewhouse, which I have yet to confirm with Falcone, but even it it was, it remains a marvelous correction, and ample reason to push Falke over the top as my Brewery of the Year pick for Latin America..

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