Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mendoza: Jerome, a great brewpub in a wine city

    After El Bolson, I flew up to Mendoza, as the Andean  peaks got higher. I really liked El B as a lively town, about the size of Helena or Mt. Vernon, and I really liked Mendoza, as a medium sized city, like Spokane or Tucson.  Especially Tucson: it's in a desert, the Andes having wrung every drop of moisture out of the soggy winds coming over from Chile.  The many vineyards, planted mostly to Malbec, depend on irrigation just as much as those in the Yakima Valley.
   The city has nice plazas and parks, and at first I thought I had finally found an Argentine city that maintained its sidewalks.  However, most streets have open irrigation ditches and the many sycamores sit in open wells on the sidewalks.  So it is still incumbent on the pedestrian to look down as he walks.
   A street called Aristede Villanueve runs from the edge of the downtown area to the splendid Parque San Martin, and it is lined with trendy shops and cool bars and restaurants. The prize here is the Jerome brewpub. There are some reviews on Beer Advocate and RateBeer; Mendoza is a popular tourist destination and Jerome is the leading craft brewer in the city.
Those reviews cover the everyday taps--but when I was here, in the warm December sunshine, there were some styles on tap I had not heretofore encountered in Argentina: a Trippel and a Barleywine.  Both done quite well.  I had a pint of each over a long leisurely dinner, and by gum, they nailed both styles very well.
The trippel was excellent, nice balance with banana and cinnamon flavors and a coppery color I wish I had taken a picture of.  The barleywine had good balance too, avoiding that oversweet taste some brewers give it.
    The brewery is in a small town west of the city, on the road to Aconcagua and Chile, and the story is worth retelling.  It is recounted on a wall inside the pub, at length in Spanish and somewhat abridged in English.  Here is the latter:
   Here is the story: the senior Eduardo Mascardi rescued a young Czech mountain climber from a bad spot in the Andes back in 1983, and in gratitude was invited to the climber's homeland where, by gosh, they make some really good beer.  Mascardi, Sr. learned the craft from Czech brewers and took his new skills back to Mendoza.  Started a brewery here over twenty years ago and named it after the family's faithful dog Jerome. Eduardo Sr. and Jerome have both since passed on, but Eduardo Jr. has taken up the torch  and what good beers he is making!
   I wish I had been able to sample more, but after a day in the vineyards, two pints was my limit this evening. The reviews referenced earlier indicate that Jerome is doing quite well on the more popular styles too.  I had a medium t-shirt from Hale's Ales in Seattle in my pack and traded it to my waitress for a nice mounted set of Jerome coasters.  I hope she gets some good use out of the shirt; I will remember her brewpub a long time.
(Visited 12/9/13)

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