Born out a lifelong connection to Latin America and the traditional beer styles of Chicha and Pulque, Dos Luces Brewery on South Broadway aims to change the way that people think about beer, according to owner Judd Belstock. The brews are created from corn and maguey (in the agave family), ingredients available to indigenous peoples in the Americas, but brewed with modern methods. The result is a much different flavor profile and experience than your standard barley-based beer. Judd and his staff are happy to educate visitors on the history and production of their products, as well as to make the argument that these are just a different style of beer. It seems to me that these styles are pretty much love/hate types of brews, but it’s certainly worth it to stop by and experience them in person.
BEER LINEUP: First off, this is not a traditional brewery. The two flagship beers, chicha and pulque, are made with corn and maguey syrup, respectively, and use spices like cinnamon and clove in place of hops. As a result, their flavors have little in common with barley-based brews and it’s worth describing them in more detail than usual. Both are served in opaque, eight-ounce ceramic vessels. The chicha is medium-bodied with a slightly sweet and un-complex flavor and a bit of cinnamon. The pulque is, as Belstock describes it “a reverse sour.” The initial taste of the frothy brew is mildly sour, fading off into a light sweetness with numerous spice notes along the way; in general, a very complex beverage. Dos Luces also constantly experiments on these flagships by adding spices, flowers and fruits to create completely different-tasting brews (see below). They serve several guest taps for the less-adventurous and chicha morada, a sweet, non-alcoholic traditional beverage made from blue corn. Note: Some people find the smaller pours a little pricey compared to other breweries.
ATMOSPHERE: The taproom feels like the courtyard of a hacienda in Costa Rica, with rich, vibrant paintings, tropical plants and patio-style furniture. The crowd seemed a little older and more subdued than many South Broadway drinking establishments, with a mix of people hanging out to converse over drinks and those who stopped in to get a sampler of the unique beers. Overall the taproom had a more sophisticated vibe of discerning and/or curious drinkers.
SERVICE: On the night I visited there were an abundance of servers (bar service only) who were happy to discuss and educate customers on the unique chichas and pulques on offer.
NEIGHBORHOOD: The brewery is located at the edge of historic South Broadway and offers many options for walking to food, other breweries & bars, and even a little bit of shopping. Arrival by car or public transit is relatively easy, as it is near I25 & Broadway, and you can generally find metered parking within a few blocks. It would be a great inclusion on a brewery crawl.
STANDOUT BEER: The Azteca pulque is the result of one of the continual experiments that Dos Luces undertakes to combine ingredients in unique ways. In this case the inspiration was Mexican hot chocolate and the beer includes three kinds of chocolate plus cayenne peppers. The result is a light, frothy beverage with notes of rich, real chocolate kicked up with a hint of heat from the cayenne. It reminded me very much of some of the best hot chocolate I had in Oaxaca, Mexico. Beer? Perhaps. Tasty? You bet!