I am dedicating this review to my friend Javier. The first time I wrote a review of a beer inspired by the guava pastelito, he was the one to help me with the translation. I also came into work the next day to find a giant box of this Cuban guava pastries sitting on my desk.
Not that I was expecting them. It was just a nice surprise. And they’re pretty easy to source in South Florida. Not so much in Orange County, CA, apparently.
It was an interesting story to hear how Guava Libre! (Cream Ale, 7.5% ABV) came to be. The teams behind Placentia, CA-based The Bruery and Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park had been meeting at Great American Beer Festival in Denver for a few years off and on. And during that time, doing the collaboration was always discussed.
It just didn’t happen, one of those things when two massively popular and in-demand breweries get caught up with their own schedules. The collaboration did get scheduled, and it was decided pretty early on to not make a heavy, sweet, dessert-y stout. It’s what both breweries are well known for, and for this collaboration they wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from what they were known for and what fans expected.
The style that is basically the complete opposite end of the brewing spectrum is the cream ale, a style with light enough malt and hops that it’s as unassuming as possible. (Of course, they ended up making an Imperial cream ale, so it’s a bit stronger than normal).
Vanilla isn’t a normal ingredient in cream ales, but they wanted to add it anyway. But what else to add? It was at this point that Team Funky suggested guava, since the beer was well on its way to becoming one of the aforementioned pastries anyway.
That posed a problem for Team Bruery, though. Finding good Mexican food is not difficult to find anywhere in Southern CA. Cuban cuisine, however, is a bit different. The people at The Bruery had to drive close to an hour into the heart of Los Angeles to find a good guava pastelito. Once they did, they understood.
And Guava Libre! was born. Brewed and bottled, it led The Bruery’s recent push back into the Sunshine State. And yes, this beer is as insanely close to drinking an actual guava pastelito as sincerely possible.
The guava in this beer is absolutely insane. Honestly, it drinks more like a can of guava nectar; it’s that incredibly thick and rich. Adding the vanilla to the beer just adds that extra dimension of sweetness and acts as sort of a bridge between the excessively insane fruit flavor and a smooth, biscuity malt flavor. The malt gets to be a bit much sometimes, especially when navigating a heady alcohol content in an already thick beer.
But it happened. They finally completed the collaboration, and it’s available pretty much everywhere in Florida right now. Much like the tasty pastelito, and many other brews coming from our friends in Placentia.
We’re so lucky.
Drink Florida Craft,