Published on May 2, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Bodega to Bodega in one round
Jim McManners OBE, real ale fan, NUFC devotee and regular in the Bodega, Newcastle, reports from a Peruvian pub and microbrewery
On any Newcastle United matchday the four McManners boys – dad and three sons – could be found crammed into The Bodega in Newcastle clutching pints of Allendale Pennine Pale or Fyne Ales Jarl. For the past five years however, middle brother Jimmy has been absent. Apart from the occasional holiday at home he has been flying the NUFC and real ale flag in Barranco, a district of Lima in Peru (via Edinburgh, Philadelphia, Rome, and a job as an interpreter for legendary Italian striker Roberto Baggio. But these are stories for another time).
Jimmy manages Wick’s pub, working with owner, brewer and fellow Englishman Will Wicks who trained at Brewlab in Sunderland, honed his skills at Mordue Brewery, and met his Peruvian wife in Manchester. Jimmy McManners also has a Peruvian wife and family.
The beers are brewed by Will in a corridor-like room just off the main bar – no fancy glass screens or shiny coppers for show, just a working row of vessels with the door left open for anyone to have a nosy at the process.
He brews twice a week producing five casks each time and selling it all in the pub, varying the output with ten distinctive beers that range from a superb stout, a “pilgrim” and a best bitter through to my favourite Angel of The North, a very heavily hopped pale ale. Even allowing for the phenomenon that all drinks taste better in their own country – even Kronenbourg can taste OK in France – Will’s beers are Premier League standard, up there with some of the Newcastle Bodega’s offerings and the only beers I have come across in Peru pulled with a proper head from a hand pump. For the beer buffs, they use malted barley, Goldings and Challenger hops all imported from England. American Amarillo hops are occasionally bought but are expensive. They now come in pellet form as loose cones sent the airport sniffer dogs into ecstasy.
The resultant beer does not come cheap, around 16 soles a pint, which translates as “London prices”, but there are enough young affluent Peruvians in Barranco who have developed a taste for real ale to keep the pub busy – as well as expats of all nations in this “proper” pub.
I can’t pretend that there is a huge Newcastle United contingent in Lima but there are converts – Nobby Solano grew up just down the road close to Lima airport. But most tourists only spend a night or two in Lima en route to Machu Picchu, the rain forest or Lake Titicaca and will miss Barranco which is a shame as it is a bit of a gem and, in my view, far more interesting than the more developed Miraflores area where most tourist hotels are situated.
Barranco has been “discovered”, but not yet spoiled; famous now for its vibrant street art, galleries and lively nightlife as well as for its fabulous old colonial mansions, some of which are being converted into traditional and modern bars.
The beer scene goes well beyond Wicks; the Barranco Beer Company has a very swish, state-of-the-art brew bar brewing Belgian-style beers such as Lupulager, a hopped lager which they are now canning for export. Peruvian microbreweries tend to go for very strong 7.0% abv-plus American-style craft ales – some quite nice, others…
Being unfamiliar with the Spanish language, when I was in Barranco I was delighted to find lots of bodegas; little dark cave-like shops selling everything under the sun, except Pennine Pale or those nice cheese and tomato sarnies (incidentally, if there is a better team of bar staff than The Bodega, I have yet to find it).
But it did make me wonder where our matchday pub of choice got its name. There’s nowt Spanish in there, except maybe a bag of Liquorice Allsorts.