Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Uruguay - A Lot Of Promise.

Recently I featured Paraguay on the World Cup of beer tour, and labeled it as a beer wasteland due to the lack of any variety and a market dominated by mass-produced pale lagers.  I was worried I would find the same thing in the neighboring Uruguay, but it turns out there is hope in this small coastal country nestled between soccer powers Argentina and Brazil.  My first exposure to Uruguay came through the TV show 'No Reservations' featuring Anthony Bourdain.  The show focused on the meats available and Jay and I decided right then that a trip to Uruguay needed to happen sometime in the reasonably near future.  In fact, I'd be surprised if this doesn't come up in his Bite and Booze feature on Uruguay!  What that show didn't feature, as far as I remember, was anything particular on the beer.  So, it was up to me to dig a little deeper.

According to RateBeer there are 9 breweries in Uruguay, with all of them being in the Montevideo area.  Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, located on the southern coast, and from what I can tell it seems like it would be a fun place to visit.  It even features the highest quality of life of any South American city, according to a recent study.  (The link is in Spanish... as is a lot of what I've found on the beer!)  In fact, Montevideo was the host of the first ever FIFA World Cup, way back in 1930.  Uruguay won that inaugural tournament, and the USA finished 3rd, our best ever finish.

One of these breweries, Cerveza Artesanal Mastra, even features beers from styles such as American Stout and Scottish Wee Heavy.  Unfortunately their English side of the site appears to be incomplete, but compared to previous countries, I'm very impressed to see a South American brewery attempting darker bolder styles!  Even if the ratings aren't superb it's a huge step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned.  
 
So Uruguay, three cheers to heading in the right direction... if anything this look into the beers and culture of the small South American country has made it a more appealing travel destination for the future!