When in Peru, drink as the Peruvians? Absolutely. But no, I’m not talking about Pisco this time, but Peru’s very own, home-grown, range of cervezas. That’s beer, to you and me.
The most popular of Peruvian beers on offer are Cuzqueña, Pilsen, and Cristal.These are the beers that you will find in any little shop or bar, and probably what you will find in the hand of a local come a weekend night.
But, which is better? To find out, I sacrificed myself for the sake of this blog, and did a taste test. A blind taste test at that, just to be fair.
Cuzqueña is the ultimate winner of the three in taste, both in ‘blonde’ (pale) and ‘negro’ (dark) variations (yes, I tried them both). This is probably Peru’s signature beer, and the bottles themselves are reason enough to make a purchase (you might recognize that famous 12 sided-brick Inca Wall in Cuzco city adorning the bottom). It’s also reflected in the price, although they still certainly make a good souvenir and/or gift (and/or personal supply).
The next option is Pilsner. It’s also the middle of the price variations, and the Peruvians have kept faithful to their price=quality assessment when it comes to beer, in my opinion. Finally, for the price of the others, you can have yourself a satisfying 1 litre bottle of Cristal to enjoy. Considering this is the lower-priced option, I think it certainly tops special brew (if you know, you know). It’s not complete filth and I would even venture to say that it is still nice enough to warrant ordering at a bar.
So, my final recommendations on Peruvian beer? Actually, I would recommend Cristal. The bottle is bigger, which means you can share it around more easily with the other members of your party (you didn’t think I did those taste-tests all by myself, did you?). And after all, sharing alcohol is the spirit of drinking here in Peru, and what you will compromise on taste you will make up for in friendships. Cuzqueña is by far the best taste, but maybe keep this as a nice gift for your friends back home.
Beckie is a volunteer with the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.