At Man Crates, we probably enjoy a good beer more than the next guy or gal (responsibly, of course). We recently uncapped a hidden little gem that you may not have had the pleasure of trying just yet: Quilmes. Anyone who’s shopped at Trader Joe’s may have spied this among the store’s eclectic beer selection, but we’re guessing you passed right by it for Simpler Times. For shame! In recent years, Quilmes has become a little harder to find. And that, dear suds lover, is a tragedy, because it’s a fine summer ale. Luckily, we tracked down a six-pack at the local BevMo and are delighted to share our thoughts. But first a brief history…
A GERMAN GOES TO ARGENTINA
Don’t be alarmed by that subject heading. This isn’t a Boys From Brazil type of thing. It’s a 19th century tale with a happy ending. It begins with Otto Bemberg, a German immigrant who came to Buenos Aires in 1850 with a simple, noble dream: to make beer and chew bubble gum and he was all out of bubble gum (due to it not being invented yet).
Bemberg was not exactly an overnight success. After years of toil and probably a lot of demos that tasted like Natty Light, he established the first Quilmes Brewery (the largest and most advanced brewery in South America at the time) in 1888 with his son Otto Sebastian. He would die in 1896 and eventually his grandson Otto Eduardo would take the delicious lager to new heights in the early 20 th century. Interestingly, Otto Eduardo “had a premonition” in early 1929 that predicted the stock market crash. Does drinking Quilmes give you the ability to see the future? It’s very possible. Anyway, Eduardo took precautions (i.e., buried his money under his hacienda somewhere) and saved his family from financial ruin. So you could safely say a dream has spared us all from never enjoying this beer today. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that brief of a history…let’s get to the drinking!
In a word, smooth. Pop one of these open and you are transported to the awe-inspiring Patagonian mountain range, gazing at jagged white peaks and crystal blue alpine lakes as far as the eye can see. The roar of an ocelot echoes in the distance, a glacier begins to calve…okay, that might be overselling it, but it’s very good!
There are hints of corn, caramel and possibly straw. There is a sweet, creamy aftertaste that is not at all unpleasant. Is it Duvel? No, nor does it intend to be. Consider it a nice step up from the standard Mexican lager (no offense, Modelo, we still love you!). And at 4.9 percent AC, it still packs a minor kick. It’s also just light enough to enjoy at the beach, poolside or on the links. Or on the patio in these.
If you want to stay to true to its German routes, try it with a bratwurst and some potato pancakes. But it really does go well with some empanadas and a skirt steak—classic Argentinian fare. After testing this pairing three or four times, we can confidently say WE SEE YOUR FUTURE AND IT INCLUDES QUILMES.
Finally, we may have buried the lede, because Quilmes has one of the best beer commercials you will ever see. We’re not sure exactly what is going on here, but we do know that Quilmes is the point where “machismo and feminism meet….it is the flavor of encounter.” Don Draper himself couldn’t top that one.