Driving down Columbia Road from the Franklin Park Zoo into Dorchester's Upham's Corner, you can't miss a billboard for "Kompadre Lager". At first glance, the sign with the red-and-yellow palm tree looks like any other advertisement for a Caribbean beer.
The beer is not brewed in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, however. Kompadre Lager is brewed locally for and marketed to Dorchester's Cape Verdean population.
The Percival Brewing Company brews two Dorchester-inspired beers. In addition to the Kompadre Lager, founder Filipe E. Oliveira brews Dot Ale 1630 as a tribute to the neighborhood he grew up in. The beers are marketed toward locals but also toward a population that might not yet have embraced craft beer.
"There's nothing complex or over powering like most craft beer brands," says Oliveira. "The overall philosophy is to provide simple and consumable craft beer that is appealing to everyone."
Oliveira's beers are brewed at the Paper City Brewery in Holyoke. After launching the company in 2011, he's beginning to sell his beer in the Boston area. Oliveira recently poured his offerings at a local craft beer festival and said the response was positive. He said he thought the beer would be a hit with the younger crowd but really took off with an older clientele who remembered growing up in neighborhood he did.
"They really appreciated that a new business was willing to uplift the Dot community and somewhat change the community's mentality on innovative business," said Oliveira.
I've taken the opportunity to sample from and share six-packs of each beer over the course of the summer.
Dot Ale 1630 is the better of the two. The beer pours amber with a dirty white head. I smell caramel malt and a hint of flowers. The first sip is bready; the mouthfeel is medium. My friend Shawn, who is a Budweiser drinker, says this beer is heavier than Bud. I don't find it to be quite as crisp as the Anheuser-Busch product. Oliveira compares it to a Harpoon IPA, which isn't quite right, either. It's a bit smoother, albeit less flavorful, than that.
Kompadre Lager -- "Cerveja Fina" -- is a pale lager that belongs on a beach or a back porch. It pours a see-through yellow with lots of fizz. There's a nice floral nose, which is a pleasant surprise. This one goes down smooth, a resort beer brewed for Boston's most diverse neighborhood.
Neither of these beers overwhelms me, though the concept of serving craft beer to an under-served community has been a long time coming. For lack of a more delicate description, it's about time a craft beer came along that wasn't marketed toward well-to-do white people. I wouldn't seek either of these beers out, but there's time for the quality of the product to match the marketing.
Dot Ale is available at Dorchester's Eagle Liquors and Morrissey Boulevard Wines Liquors. It is available on tap a the Ashmont Grill. You can find Kompadre Lager at Hancock Liquors and CV Liquors. Suggested retail price is for both is $8.99 for a six-pack.