This blog documents my attempt to drink a beer from every country in the world and every state in the United States.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Country #20: Uruguay

Beer: Pilsen

Brewery: Fabricas Nacionales de Cerveza, Montevideo, Uruguay

ABV: 5.1%

A generic glass for a generically named beer.
Ah, the pilsner. Invented in the Czech town of Plzen and since disseminated all over the globe, it is often one of the few styles we have to choose from when traveling around the world. Oftentimes, when I’ve found myself traveling someplace where I didn’t speak the language, I would have to gamble on my beer selection by choosing the one with the most interesting sounding name. After all, who is to know which of the three beers available is a pale lager, which is a pilsner, and which might be something a bit more interesting? 

I've done two beers from South America thus far, and both of them had some weird code printed on all the bottle caps. The Xingu bottle cap had some indecipherable symbol, whereas these all had some random series of numbers. Batch number? Any ideas? (The 120211 is probably a packaging date, if I had to guess).
This strategy has sometimes worked out well (such as when I tried Cerveza Kunstmann in Chile), and sometimes not well at all (when I went for the Sarajevesko in Bosnia over the brand simply called ‘Pan’). Now if only some enterprising brewery would just make these choices easier…

A slew of creatively named Latin American beers. Pilsen, Pilsener from El Salvador, and Pilsener from Ecuador.
A-ha! Muchas gracias, Fabricas Nacionales de Cerveza of lovely Montevideo, Uruguay! Your beer Pilsen is not misleading in the slightest. It’s a pilsner! It turns out that Patricia, the other major brand of beer in Uruguay, is also a pilsner and tastes remarkably similar to Pilsen, but who could guess what the hell Patricia tastes like based on that totally weird, vague name?

A nice little street scene in Colonia del Sacramento. Much of Uruguay lends itself to a slow paced life full of beery afternoons (provided, you know, you're not from there, and have to be at work and whatnot).
All kidding aside, Pilsen is pretty good. It’s considerably sweeter and fizzier than the average pilsener, but that makes it unique (ironically, despite the generic name), and I like it. I like Uruguay, too. It’s one of the few countries I’ve written about for this blog that I’ve actually visited, and Jaime and I wished we had spent more time there during our travels. It’s like a smaller, calmer, less fanatical Argentina, with all the great culture, food, and architecture of its massive neighbor, minus the hubbub. They even speak more slowly, so I could actually understand what people were saying despite their thick rioplatense version of Spanish. Perhaps they speak so slowly because they’ve had a few too many Pilsens?

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