It’s been a few weeks so I guess it’s about time I contributed something again before the site gets rebranded to Onescotabroad. Anyway it’s a topic that’s right up my street… beer! During our stay at Adventure Brew Hostel in La Paz we were invited to visit The Adventure Brew Microbrewery Tour. Craft beer in Bolivia? Portland maybe but not South America!
Adventure Brew Hostel, La Paz
During our stay at the Adventure Brew Hostel, La Paz, we were given a complimentary beer at 8pm every night. Not only was it free but it was from a mighty tasty microbrewery called Saya and came in four types, but more on those later when I talk about The Adventure Brew Microbrewery Tour.
As most travellers know, ‘bloggers’ tend to get wee (small) perks with the job… as do their “carries the bags and looks good” boyfriends. During an informal meeting with the hostel jefe (boss) Remo, he mentioned that the hostel offers an ‘all – you – can – drink’ brewery tour during peak seasons. Aye, my ears pricked up at that statement. Unfortunately we were leaving Bolivia 24 hours later! ‘That’s ok’ said Remo, ‘we’re starting the tour again tomorrow and I’d love you both to come.’
YA DANCER! (Scots slang for ‘amazing’!)
La Paz to Craft Beer Bolivian Heaven
Next day we were greeted by Remo in reception along with a handful of other travellers who were also attending the tour. We all jumped in Remo’s truck and off we went to the brewery. Everyone was bundled in the back, us Two Scots sat inside to chat to Remo. En route he explained some history about himself and the hostel.
It was handed down to him by his Dad, before becoming The Adventure Brew it was a “typical dark” Bolivian hostel. Remo trained as a chemical engineer in Chicago, he worked in the petroleum industry for ten years before turning his knowledge of blending chemicals in to his hobby and passion – home brew. He is now a Brew Master and has been for 17 years.
In the beginning, the beer was brewed on site underneath his Dad’s hostel. His Dad planned to close the hostel as it got closer to his retirement age, allowing Remo to keep the brewery going on site. Then one of Remo’s mates, Alistair, came up with the idea of combining the hostel with the brewery, and The Adventure Brew Hostel was born. Alistair also invented The Death Road Cycle (the gringo version anyway), his company is called Gravity. Smart dude!
Saya beer is becoming very successful, it’s now sold in over 50 bars across Bolivia and to keep up with demand (also to pacify some guests who complained about the smell of the delicious hops) they recently had to relocate to larger premises, where we were headed on the tour. It’s in a place called Achocalle, about ten minutes from El Alto.
Similar to Peruvians, Bolivians believe strongly in Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the brewery sticks to that ethos. Waste water is used to irrigate and the mash is used to feed local animals (as well as mash wrestling competitions in the hostel!)
The brewery located in front of the Saya Hills about 2km from a natural spring. I wrongly presumed the water would come from the nearby mountain glacier but was informed that ‘everyone knows’ glacier water sucks for brewing as it doesn’t contain enough minerals. Cheers for the misinformation Jean Claude, ram your Coors Lite!
Bolivia Street Party
About a mile from the brewery we were held up by a massive street party that Remo said the party had been going on for about a month! The locals were all dressed in outrageously bright clothes, dancing and having a great time. They didn’t seem to care that they were holding up the traffic.
Eventually we crept our way through and as the gates to the brewery were opened, we were greeted by two (Game of Thrones-esque) Alsatian / Husky-cross dogs with the coolest piercing blue eyes. Very playful and friendly but looked like they could eat any unwelcome visitors!
We all disembarked and started the tour in the water treatment room, where the water is ‘filtered but not demineralised’ then moves into the main room where it all happens. The beer is mashed, brewed, bottled (at a rate of 1000 per hour) and sampled, Mmmm!
Craft Beer Tasting in La Paz
Firstly, we were given a pint of the Saya, Dorada at 5% which was very refreshing and reminded me of a Canadian honey lager.
Closely followed by an Amber which is similar to and American Pale Ale, again very tasty.
The third and final sample of the tour was an unfiltered Dorada, basically a cloudy flat version of the Dorada. My least favourite. It reminded me of a pint of McEwans in Scotland.
Now that we were are all sufficiently lubricated and chatting away to our new friends, we were led outside to enjoy the sun. There were amazing views of the Saya Hills and we enjoyed a fantastic BBQ of sausage, hotdogs, beer cooked onions and peppers (naturally) and all we could drink Saya beer. We had some playtime with los perros (dogs) too.
Remo sat with us for a few hours and answered all of our questions before driving back to the hostel (The Brew Master and a taxi service!)
Had we paid for the tour I’d have been happy and would thoroughly recommend spending 200 bs / £18.95, it would be money well spend!
Thanks to Remo (The Adventure Brew Hostel) for his kindness and interesting chat!
Have you been to Bolivia? Would you like to go?