A NEW country and a new beer. Two in fact. That’s because, for £1.29 pence each from the Bethnal Green Food Center, I have two different bottles of Colombian beer. This one is called Aguila, which, according my Spanish speaking friend, is an animal name.
It’s a thin looking brown bottle isn’t it? I keep expecting to read the words ‘chili sauce’ printed on it. Those bright yellow labels give it a good festive, South American feel though.
It even has some words embossed around the shoulder. What does it say? The name of the brewer? A slogan perhaps? No. It Says “No Retornable”. Which I think is a less than encouraging recycling message.
I don’t normally photograph the bottle tops, but this one is worth sharing.
Are those anti-clockwise arrows I see? I dare say that Aguila has a screw-top. And that immediately makes it uncool.
Can it redeem itself with the labels? Lets start with the big, wrap-around neck label.
The front of the neck-label doesn’t tell you much. It’s simply a smaller version of the main front label with, what must be the ‘since’ or ‘established’ date of 1913. A happy year in between the sinking of the RMS Titanic and the outbreak of the First World War.
One side of the neck-label has the barcode. And the other is full of hard to read small-print.
Unfortunately, every word is in Spanish. Fortunately however, it’s all translated into English on the big white sticker stuck onto the bottle by the importer.
The front-label keeps things simple. And Colombian. And Spanish.
It comes down to a straight forward, if bright and lively roundel. You might want to don a pair of shades before glancing in its direction. It may not be sophisticated, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a nation more famous for hard drugs than beer.
The words around the top of the roundel tell us that this is a beer from Colombia. The words around the bottom inform us that “Refreshment Our Passion”. Hopefully a hint about what Aguila will be all about.
Over on the back of the bottle, and we have the original Spanish language back label with a great big white label stuck over it by the importer.
The big white label has all the small-print, information and vital statistics you need. It’s in English. And it’s the ugliest label I’ve ever seen an importer slap onto an otherwise attractive bottle.
But what does it say? Well, this is your regular 330ml (11.16 Fl Oz) bottle. The alcoholic volume is a modest 4%. The ingredients are water, barley malt and, I’m not making this up, “Deputy Hops”. What’s that? A type of hops or a bad translation?
In a box on the other side of the ugly white label is information about the importer. This bottle of Aguila from Colombia comes courtesy of La Casa De Jack Ltd from the South Bank of the River Thames in London. They have an address, telephone number, email address and web address at www.lachatica.com in case you want to get in touch with them. Their website may lack polish, but all credit to them, they look like to people to come to if you want to import Latin American food to Britain.
Elsewhere, we learn that the brewer is one Bavaria S.A.. Someone that sounds more like a German brewer than a South American one. It was also, apparently, “Commercialized By C.I. Arcas Ltda”. What the heck does “Commercialized” mean? What is welcome are the words “Product Of Colombia”. This is the real deal, not a domestically brewed fake foreign beer like some on the market.
At the bottom however is more Spanish language. But don’t worry. It’s just a standard health warning.
So what does Aguila taste like? Should you try it if you get the chance? Time to unscrew a refrigerated bottle and find out.
It does have a screw top. But not one that’s easy to open. In fact, this one was so difficult, I had to use bottle top opener to get into it.
It poured easily enough. It’s got an excellent, thick and foamy head. And fortunately, one that’s controllable enough for you not to end up with a table covered in beer foam. The beer itself an unappetizing pale yellow though. Yuck.
It does have a pretty good smell though. A lagery and strong but not unpleasant smell rapidly fills your nostrils. There’s nothing else to say about though. That malted barley smell is almost identical to every other pilsner lager in the world. With that in mind, it smells familiar, even though I’ve never tried Aguila before in my life.
But what does it taste like? A couple of gulps in, and Aguila is turning out to be one very light and drinkable lager. It’s a lager, so obviously it has no flavour. What lagers usually have is a bitter “kick” and lingering aftertaste. That’s why I hate most lagers. Aguila however, doesn’t have that. What is does have is possibly the most gentle and subtle bitter aftertaste I’ve ever seen in a lager.
I’m half-way through this little bottle of Aguila now. So what am I enjoying about it? As per the billing on the front label, it is refreshing. And the colder you can get it, the more refreshing it will become. I’m loving how easy to drink it is. With such a muted aftertaste and none of that awful “kick” that defines most lagers, Aguila won’t offend even the most delicate of stomachs. It’s also smooth and rather well made.
There are one or two drawback however. It’s fine if you just compare it to other lagers. But that’s like comparing television talent show rejects. Compared to real beers and ales, Aguila has no flavour at all. The muted, bitter, malted barley aftertaste is excellent because there’s not much of it. At a measly 4% volume, it’s weaker than typical European lagers. And the whole experience is rather watery and gassy.
That said, when you compare Aguila to its lagery competition, it comes out way ahead. Aguila is not just the best Latin American beer I’ve tried to date, but it’s one of the best lagers I’ve tried in the world so far. That’s because it’s so refreshing and easy to drink. If or when I get around to travelling in South America, I’ll happily drink this. And I recommend you look out for it too. Best of all, I’ve got another bottle of Colombian beer to compare it to next.
Have you tried Aguila? What did you think of it? Got any corrections, requests, recommendations or places to buy to share? Then do please leave a comment below.