On a quiet street on the outskirts of Villa Crespo, behind a nondescript gray door, is a climbing gym — a hidden treasure for avid practitioners in the City’s climbing scene. But if you walk all the way through, past the buff middle-aged man in a bandana and the preteen girl dangling high above the ground, you’ll find something even cooler: one of the newest pubs in Buenos Aires.
The “Patio Cervecero del Capitán Torque,” i.e. the “Captain Torque’s Beer Garden,” opened a few weeks ago in the small outdoor courtyard of Realization Climbing Gym. Small cacti and succulents are scattered around, along with a handful of small, intimate tables and a low-slung hammock in the corner.
A window at the back of the patio overlooks the kitchen, where pizzas and beers emerge every few minutes, and another window peeks into the climbing gym itself. A large climbing wall — just for decoration — towers up into the open night sky. The concept is effortless, but brilliant: there are worse ways, after all, to spend a Friday night than watching buff shirtless men climb walls while you nurse a craft beer.
The gym-slash-bar has quickly established itself as the “neighborhood pub” for Buenos Aires climbers, drawing people from all over the city to climb and socialize. The menu offers up a variety of craft beers by the liter, including classics like Patagonia and Otro Mundo, at great value. But the real standout is their own microbrew, Capitán Torque — full name “Authentic Artisanal Beer of Captain Torque.” A rich, amber-colored beer with lots of body and a smooth flavor, this might be one of the best in Buenos Aires, and definitely one of the best value, at 100 pesos a liter. Its name, Capitán Torque, is a climbing (or maybe just plain physics) pun that goes way over our head. It’s named after a friend, Pedro Beltraminom, whose nickname is “Captain Torque x Strength,” a man renowned for his strength and climbing prowess. From this nickname comes the name of the microbrew, the bar itself, and the “X” logo on the label.
Order at the front bar from the owner, “La Renga” (real name Andrés Alejandro Puertas), an athletic climber with a dark, bristly beard. A few years ago, he moved his long-standing climbing gym to its current location in Paternal and began brewing beer with close friend, Pablo Haber. “The idea to start selling our own craft beer, instead of industrially-produced beer, was attractive,” he told us. La Renga’s travels in Europe and the United States made him take notice of the craft beer boom, and when the boom finally reached Buenos Aires, he decided to become a part of it. “A short time after opening the gym we started to produce and sell our beer here, and the response has been really encouraging,” he said. “The microbrewery came at the same time that we opened the new gym, so I seized the opportunity to open the bar in the back patio.”
This is just the latest (and most alcohol laden) development in the fast-evolving Buenos Aires climbing scene. La Renga has been climbing for decades, and has seen the city transform from a place with one or two climbing gyms scattered around to one with many, as well as the emergence of a healthy climbing culture everywhere from Córdoba to El Bolsón to Balcarce.
After starting as a teen, La Renga travelled the world to climb. That changed during one of Argentina’s economic crises. “When Argentina’s money suffered a devaluation, the money my friend and I had saved for a three month climbing trip suddenly wasn’t enough to buy a single ticket,” he explained. “We had been climbing in Europe a lot back then, and there we discovered bouldering walls (low walls with padding below, that let you climb without ropes or harnesses). We figured there was nothing like that in Buenos Aires, and decided to open the first bouldering gym here.”
Over 20 years ago, La Renga started Buenos Aires’s first bouldering gym with friends, and now they’re on the vanguard of the climbing world once again with the City’s first and only (to our knowledge) microbrewery/pub/climbing gym. Climbing, craft beer, underground pub: how many hipster trends can you fit into one description? Yet the pub feels down to earth, not trendy, and is populated by people who are simply passionate about two things: climbing and beer.
The microbrewery will continue to expand, and soon you may be able to taste Capitán Torque outside of the relaxed back patio of Realization Climbing Gym.
“Our project for this year is to artisanally make 500 liters of beer per month, so that we can stock what we need at the bar, have enough for the festivals and events we provide to, and to sell in barrels to other pubs and microbreweries,” La Renga said. Still, the experience of visiting — especially if you make a day of it and go climbing before sampling the beers — is something you can’t miss. Maybe you’ll even run into Captain Torque himself.