Thanks to Dominic Lombard, from the website http://www.drinkingspanish.com/, for this article looking at the small but growing world of the Spanish Craft beer scene. He also reviews a nice Bottle of Parking C Pelicano.
Join Dominic on twitter, at @domgetxo, for all things on wine and beer down in sunny Spain. (Lucky fella!)
The Spanish Craft Armada
Let’s face it, Spain has never been famous for it’s beer quality. To be honest the main brands in Spain are very cheap, tasteless lagers usually made with low cost malts mixed with rice or corn or both adjuncts. Served chilled in small glasses called Cañas, which is perfect on a hot summer’s day if you want a cold liquid to refresh you. But in the last 4-5 years Spain has been going through a mad slightly out of control craft beer revolution. It seems that increasingly the natives have found out that there is more to beer than what they are served by the big Spanish brewers.
The Spanish craft brewers and owners are made up of beer enthusiasts, home brewers, business men, ex-property developers, and marketing people. Some are doing it for the love of beer and an interest in being able to make a living from it, while others are in it to make money. The problem in Spain is that at the moment there are far more brands then consumers and that the quality is often poor. Though there are 10 or 15 notable producers that constantly make good quality beers.
The next 2-3 years will see many producers or brand owners fall by the wayside and hopefully, with a bit of luck, the truly good producers will be able to survive. We have seen that some of the bigger brewers, like Mahou for example, are taking note of this craft revolution and are releasing very soon a special edition of 4 distinct “craft” beers onto the market. Also Estrella Damm, a brewery from Barcelona, brought out the famous Inedit beer which was apparently a collaboration with the renowned but now ex-El Bulli Sommeliers. Unfortunately during the summer the CEO of Estrella Damm made some foolish comments about the Spanish craft scene, basically saying that he feared that Spanish craft breweries where making beer in garages or sub standard conditions and feared a quality failure would damage the image of Spanish beer quality. Which is funny considering that Estrella Damn sells in about 85 countries and only exports 15% of it’s production so the comment seemed to be more focused on the Spanish consumer than the international customer.
Spanish craft beer sales within Spain currently sit at just under 1% of beer sales, but it is growing at quite a pace and I think that the big Spanish breweries are looking at markets such as the USA and Ireland and are worried that they will loose market share as the Spanish consumer decides to want beers that are more exciting and with stronger flavours.
Review: Bottle of Parking C Pelicano, White IPA 7.1% ABV
Mateo & Bernabe was founded in 2012 by Alberto Pacheco and his wife’s family in Logroño, which is the capital of the famous Spanish wine region of the Rioja. Alberto was born to Spanish immigrants in Venezuela and was brought up in Chile before deciding on a return to Spain to train as a chef near where his mothers family was from which was Logroño. After only 5 months in Logroño he met his future wife and his roots where set. When working as a chef he started to experiment with home brewing and then started to go to Italy to attend brewing courses and increase his knowledge of the industry. He then decided that he would like to brew beer and make a living from it. Sitting down with his wife and his father-in-law, the three of them proceeded to write up a business plan and the result was that, after a couple of years, Mateo & Bernabe was born.
The brewery has 2 ranges of beers Mateo & Bernabe which are delicate beers that are ideal to have with food, and Parking which is the experimental and fun range of beers which they also do collaboration brews.
Parking C Pelicano is a White IPA which was a collaboration brew with Beancurd Turtle who is a brewer named Daniel with 30 years experience from California. Lemon thyme and grated orange peel were added to the beer.
Appearance: Foamy bright white head, lovely slightly cloudy gold yellow with a slight orange hue to it.
Aroma: Malty, dried grass, clove and hints of and dried bitter orange peel
Palette: very delicate bubbles that gives you a lovely light refreshing volume in the mouth then Citrus fruit peel especially grapefruit and lemon followed with freshly cut semi dried grass hints of bitter orange with a long finish citrus peal ending. The beer is wonderfully balanced and the 7.1% is dangerously unnoticeable.
By Dominic Lombard