Famosa (Gallo)

This is a beer that recently was distributed to the Reno area, or at least to my favorite beer store, Booze Bros. I was in the mood for a Latin American lager, I saw the bottle, I saw the country of origin as another I can check off my list (Guatemala, by the way), I purchased.

Famosa (Spanish for "famous") is the export name for a beer Guatemalans call Gallo (Spanish for "Rooster"), explaining the black stylized rooster on the bottle. Why there's a stylized rooster on the bottle, I wasn't sure, so I had it explained to me by a brewery spokesperson. I originally thought that the rooster was in fact a Resplendent Quetzal, Guatemala's national bird, whose image adorns the flag, coat of arms, and currency (which is also named the Quetzal), but I was wrong. In 1896, one of the family members of the brewery owners (not mentioned, but I assume it's the Castillo family; read on) decided to put a rooster on the bottle of their "Lager-Bier", I imagine as a sort of trademark. Ten years later, people started asking for a beer "with the Rooster on the bottle," eventually being shortened to "The Rooster," and thus, the name El Gallo was born. (E-mail to Central Beers)

The brewery itself was established in 1881 by Mariano and Rafael Castillo Córdova as Castillo Hermanos, with German brewmasters Herr Stiller and William Spitz arriving in 1895. The beer now known as Gallo in Guatemala and Famosa elsewhere was first brewed in 1896, and it has won numerous awards since. According to the Famosa spokesperson, the brewery is now owned by the 4th and 5th generations of family members, and it is one of only two independent breweries in Latin America. (Gallo beer information; I did my best with the translation, but if anyone can assist, I would be grateful)

Here come the stats:

Famosa (Gallo)
BREWERY: Cervecería Centro Americana, S.A., Guatemala City, Guatemala
US IMPORTER: Central Beer Import and Export, Inc., Miami, FL, USA
STYLE: Lager
CALORIES/SERVING: 145 per 12 oz. bottle (135-155 on average)
BITTERNESS: 20 IBUs (18-22 on average)
ABV: 5%
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 11.5° Plato (1046.47)
MALTS: Malts from Denmark, Sweden, and Germany
HOPS: Hops from Yakima Valley, Washington
FOODS TO PAIR WITH: Guatemalan food, but also "sea food, Italian pasta or steak" among other things
AWARDS: 25 Monde Selection awards since 1967, including 21 gold medals (which itself includes 10 straight golds), 1 Great Gold medal in 1992, and the Crystal Prestige Award; 1914 gold medal at the Panama Pacific International Exhibition

All information, except for the OG, malts, hops, and serving temp, came from Central Beer's Famosa website; the rest came from an e-mail to the importer, Central Beer Import and Export.

The beer itself poured a clear light golden color that bubbled up into a nice clean white head. The scent of the beer reminded me of many a pilsner and Latin American lager I have drank, which makes sense considering this is your basic Latin American lager. The beer itself tasted of carbonation and a slight hoppiness with just a hint of malt. The good news is that the aftertaste was not overly bitter or metallic, a problem that befalls many beers from this part of the world (my theory is that it has to do with the water). It was a light hoppy aftertaste that lingered for a little while.

Overall, not a bad beer, but I imagine that the entire experience would be greatly improved served alongside some tamales or chile rellenos or other Guatemalan food (and yes, apparently most Guatemalan food is also Mexican food). Certainly far from the worst Central American lager I've had. Your favorite Guatemalan restaurant or Latin American grocer probably has this beer, so pick one up.



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