Food & Drink » Winesipper

Argentine Brews

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If you are looking for something that reflects the regional flavors of Argentina, you probably should keep looking. I'm sure there are brews out there that represent the spirit of the culture and cuisine of the country, but stylistically, Cerveza Jerome would be more at home in Europe than in South America. The owner of the brewery (named in memory of the family's faithful German Shepherd) learned his craft in the Czech Republic, and that comes through in his beers. Still, as the old Olympia jingle used to say, "It's the water." Being brewed in the heart of the Andes with pure mountain spring water makes Jerome a unique commodity in this market.

The rest of the ingredients are equally native, with malt from the Argentine Pampas and hops from Patagonia. Offered in 22-oz. bottles, three different brews are currently available in Boise. The Cerveza Rubia is a classic pilsner, very pale and hazy with persistent effervescence. Clean, floral aromas start things off in this soft-bodied brew that's almost ethereal in the mouth. The flavors are utterly refreshing with just the barest hint of hops and a lively freshness that makes you think spring water. Soft fruit and spicy malt undertones come through on the palate, with a nice touch of citrus on the finish. Serve well-chilled and enjoy as the perfect spring and summer quaffer.

The Cerveza Roja pours a bright copper with a bit less fizz than the Rubia. It's bigger and bolder in the mouth but with a similar flavor profile, just with everything amped up a bit. The hops are definitely more aggressive, though still on the subtle side, with the bitterness coming through most prominently on the finish. The Roja would make a great companion to spicy pork or red meat dishes.

As you would expect from the name, the Cerveza Negra is a dark ebony-colored brew with rich aromas of toasted malt, mocha and smoke. The flavors are equally rich--sweet chocolate-laced malt, tobacco, charred toast and a nice hit of hops to help keep things in balance. Honeyed fruit and bittersweet chocolate dominate the finish. This one would go best with dessert or a platter of rich cheeses. All three brews hover around 6 percent alcohol and sell for less than five bucks a bottle. All are definitely worth trying, though I'd have to say the "fresh as a spring breeze" Rubia is my favorite. :