In the heart of Lima, just a few steps away from the famous Plaza de Armas, is located a bar called Lima 1. In this tiny but charming place you can taste craft beers produced only a couple of meters away from the bar. The Lima 1 tripel is the star product of this brewery, however they offer many other beers that will satisfy every type of beer enthusiast. It was founded by Olivier, a young man with Peruvian and Belgian roots. His passion for beer combined with his origins gave birth to some very interesting and innovative flavours. Together with his close friend Pedro, they bring a little joy to many ‘Limeños’ every day. Exquisito Perú met Olivier to learn a bit more about his history and ambitions.
When and how did the Lima 1 project start?
It started in 2017, I had already a few years of experience in the sector, mainly importing beers. I always liked the idea of having our own beer for the sake of differentiating ourselves from other pubs and to add it to the menu of our restaurant (Casa Belga). Brewing craft beer wasn’t anything new, but doing it in the historic center of Lima was definitely something unique, and it still is!
Why the historic center of Lima?
It all started with a personal preference, when we arrived in Lima 6 or 7 years ago. The centre was very ugly, dirty and nobody wanted to settle there. We still loved it as it doesn’t look like any other area of Lima because of its architecture, history and monuments. There is a enormous amount of fascinating things to see and do in this area. It is precisely this feeling that we have tried to transmit to our beer. It is also for the same reason that we called it Lima 1 and included the cathedral in the logo. It was important for us to develop the product in the historic centre of Lima, and attracting the people who had been living here for years.
What do Lima 1's beers have that the other craft beers don't?
There are several differences, but the main one is that we use both imported and local ingredients. We import ingredients such as hops, from Belgium. Another difference is that our brewery produces Belgian style beer, while most of the beers produced in Peru are American style such as IPAs. Especially our tripel style beer that is more complicated to produce, but that is exactly why it distinguishes itself from other beers, mainly by its balance and strength that one can enjoy in its flavour. The American style beers use mainly hops as ingredient, while the tripel beer combines in perfect harmony hops, yeast and malt.
How do you choose your ingredients?
As I mentioned before, we have a particular style that is the tripel, but we also have a few special editions, such as one of our most popular beers that we brew and sell here – a chamomile and hierba luisa (very similar to lemongrass) beer. With this beer, the idea was to combine the Peruvian heritage with the Belgian one. We were inspired by the emoliente, a very popular drink in Peru, which is made with barley malt, chamomile and hierba luisa, among other things. Beer also contains barley malt and for this reason, we wanted to create a beer that replicates the same experience. In other words, to create our special editions, we try to select our ingredients by inspiring us from local flavours. Soon, we will be launching other editions, one with chancaca (raw unrefined sugar from sugarcane) and another one with muña (mint-like plant from the Andes).
What dishes would you recommend to be served with your beer?
We generally like to recommend typical criollo dishes. They go quite well with anticuchos or ceviche, for example. It’s also important to note that some Peruvian dishes use beer in their preparation, such as arroz con pato (condimented rice with duck originally from the North coast of Perú).
Is there a difference in taste preference between Belgians and Peruvians?
In general the preference for a beer or another does not relate to someone’s nationality. I think tastes vary more according to someone’s personality. However, I would say Peruvians like IPAs more because they are more present in the Peruvian market, but when they get the chance to try a Belgian-style beer, they love it too.
Nowadays, what position do craft beers occupy in the Peruvian beer industry?
It is very limited as 99.9% of the market in Peru belongs to a company called Backus which owns the three most important brands (Cristal, Pilsen and Cusqueña). Craft beer barely reaches 0.009%. This is mainly due to the fact that it is relatively new, there were some attempts 10 to 15 years ago, but it really started to take off 8 years ago. Nowadays, there are many craft beers types and brands.
How do you see the future of craft beer in Peru??
The growth is huge, they say it could reach 0.2% of the market next year. Even if the increase is very big, it’s still small if we compare it to the United States, for example, where craft beers make up for 20% of the market. The interesting and most challenging part for brewers is to make the beer cheaper. Craft beer is an expensive product that has not yet reached a wide audience and to be more competitive in the market, we’ll have to find a way to lower the price.
And the future of Lima 1?
Our mission has always been to be able to reach more people with a very different beer than you would usually find. Fortunately, it is working well! In 6 months we have multiplied by 3 the production and we hope to double it towards June (2019). We are working hard on this and that’s why now you can find our beers in 16 different selling points in downtown Lima. However, you won’t find it in supermarkets, as this is not our goal. We want each new edition to have a story to tell.
And to finish on a high note – What is your favorite beer and why?
The Westmalle Tripel, which has an inexplicable taste and of course our beer!
Where to taste Lima 1?
If you’d like to taste Olivier’s delicious beers, you could of course book our walking food tour in the historic center of Lima and enjoy a 30-min tasting session at Lima 1, or you could visit them on your own at these two locations.
And don’t forget to check their Facebook!