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Bullfighting, Moorish architecture, Flamenco, Siestas, family, tapas and good drink. Having spent a week travelling around Southern Spain, these appear to be the things many Andalucians value. Beer is certainly popular in Spain. I was amazed to read that it is the 4th largest producer of lager in Europe: and lager truly dominates the market. This is no criticism. It was incredibly hot out there and after a spot of sightseeing nothing was better than a cold refreshing glass of lager. Furthermore, the diverse Spanish palette of food makes the clean taste of lager the perfect companion to Tapas.
I must confess that I am not the biggest fan of lager. I usually prefer a little more complexity and character from a beer. Nonetheless, lager was excellent holiday beer. It was cold and refreshing, offered little distinction with regards to taste and it didn’t ruin any food I paired it with. So I suppose none of the beer I tried will be fondly remembered but I don’t think this is a priority for the Spanish brewers I am about to describe.
I spent my first 3 days in Spain in beautiful Seville. The dominant beer was Cruzcampo.
Cruzcampo are based in Seville and have been owned by Heineken since 1991. It was much better than a Carlsberg or Carling but nothing to really care for. Okay in hot weather and with Spanish Food.
Whilst in Seville I also enjoyed a beer called Bock Damm, a dark lager brewed in Barcelona by Damm.
This had a rich fruit cake/ Christmas Pudding aroma to it. It was just such a shame that it was served ice-cold! Would have been very nice otherwise!
After Seville I travelled to the romantic small town of Ronda. Again, Cruzcampo and Alhambra (more about them in just a second!) dominated. However, I did encounter a small craft beer bar with international beers from the likes of Brewdog, Anchor and Kernel. Malastrana was its name and more information can be found about them on Tripadvisor. Unfortunately, I had been enjoying red wine with the wife so heading in for a beer may not have been the wisest choice. But if anyone is travelling through the south of Spain and yearning for craft beer, give it a go!
The last place I visited was Granada where the City’s brewer is Alhambra. This brewery still has some independence but is now part owned by the San Miguel group. Their beer was by far the best I tried with their standard lager (4.6%) having a decent bit of malt character. I also tried the Especiale (5.4%) which was decent. I saw some very appealing posters for their Special Reserva 1925 lager which I unfortunately didn’t get my hands on. So Alhambra struck me as a decent brewer of lager.
But it wasn’t all Alhambra and Cruzcampo in Granada as I did encounter a pale ale from local craft brewer called Mamooth.
This beer contained orange peel and it was very clear in the mouthfeel. It was good but perhaps could have had a bit more hop character.
I did not visit Malaga, but with San-Miguel having a brewery there, I would expect to find a lot of their beer there.
Before I close, I did notice the odd delicatessen selling beer and not all of it was Cruzcampo. I noticed one brewer advertising a Ronda Pale Ale. However travelling light meant I could not stock up! So if you visit Spain, keep a look out for local brews in smaller shops.
So in conclusion, the majority of Spanish beer is crisp, uncomplicated lager which is better than what is commonly served in the UK. All the beer I was served had a proper head and was cold. If you are seeking a more diverse range than you will have to hunt around. But don’t go to Spain for the beer! Go for the climate, the great food and the friendly people.