08 September 2011

Colonial stylings

Continuing with the craft beers I found out and about in Buenos Aires, the city boasts two English theme pubs at opposite ends of the centre. The Gibraltar and Bangalore are both dark and cosy bars, with comfy leather seats and open fires perfect for taking the chill out of a dark blustery August evening. If they opened during the day they'd both have got a lot more of my business, not least for Kingston the cask ale they both sell.

Here we have the clearest indication of the confusion between Scotch ale and IPA in Argentina: Kingston is billed as the former in The Gibraltar but is an IPA in Bangalore, perhaps to fit better with the pub's overall theme. Anyway it's definitely on the sweet side with little to say for itself as regards hops. There are lots of other things going on instead, though: milk chocolate and caramel first, then some sharp perfume notes: orange blossom, turning to jasmine. Behind this there's a tannic quality which gives it enormous thirst-quenching power and prevents it from getting too cloying or overly sweet.

Both these pubs, plus many of the Irish theme pubs littering Buenos Aires, advertised three beers under the Gambrinus marque. Gambrinus Pilsner was an odd one: perfume again, at least at first, and giving off an unsettling air of urinal cake. This fades and it's plain old dull yellow fizz after that, with maybe a smack of extra pils bitterness. Gambrinus Pale Ale is a nitrogenated red with typical yucky, sticky caramel, then adding injury to insult with a galvanic metal tang on the finish.

The only reason I didn't give up on the whole range in the first place was that I tried the Gambrinus Stout first and was hoping for more in this vein. It's chocolatey with some lovely dark fruit sweetness thrown in, and just when you've got bored of that it adds extra dry roast and a vegetal hop tang to the palate. A little bit Murphy's and a little bit Wrassler's, I really enjoyed it. Plenty to take my mind of the €6 it cost for a pint.

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