La cerveza española es magnifica

Feria Internacional El Artesana De La Cerveza

El Reino Unido no es la única comunidad a la que le gusta la cerveza de barril en este momento, conocida como cerveza artesanal en algunos lugares. Actualmente, no estoy seguro si me gusta usar esas palabras para describir cerveza pero las usare porque tienen su uso. También, parece que España está teniendo un resurgimiento en cerveza artesanal (o es que es un surgimiento por que no pienso que España haya tenido muchas cervezas artesanales antes). Mis pruebas sobre el aumento en cerveza artesanal? Un par de ferias de cervezas que han tenido lugar en España en el último año. La primera, la 2ª Feria de la Cerveza Artesana de Madrid, tuvo lugar a finales de mayo. La feria parece que ha incluido un número de cervezas artesanales de España, Reino Unido y Estados Unidos. La segunda feria de cerveza ha tenido lugar el fin de semana pasado, a finales de junio, en el norte de Madrid llamada  1ª Feria Internacional El Arte de la Cerveza Sana. Esta feria de cerveza parece tener más influencia internacional con cervezas de Bélgica, Alemania, Francia, Italia, Inglaterra, Escocia, Irlanda y Estados Unidos. Una mirada rápida a los participantes expertos revelo que Melissa Cole, periodista y sumiller experta en cerveza artesanal, era una de las asistentes. Aunque no pudimos ir este año, he sido fiablemente informado de que podemos ir el próximo año a uno de estos festivales. Conchi puede visitar a sus amigos en Madrid y todos podemos ir y probar muchas cervezas españolas. Todos ganan!

WP_001514No he encontrado muchas de estas cervezas artesanales que parecen estar disponibles en España. Generalmente, en los pubs que he visitado, sirven todas las cervezas que son conocidas en España , Cruzcampo, Mahou, Estrella, San Miguel por nombrar unas pocas. Estas cervezas regionales están disponibles en casi todos los pubs y bares. Pienso que si quiero encontrar estas cervezas artesanales tendré que viajar a Madrid. Un compañero de blog, Cerveza de Garaje, me ha hablado sobre unos pocos lugares donde encontrar cervezas artesanales en Madrid, incluidos una fábrica de cerveza, una tienda y un pub. La primera parada será una pequeña fábrica de cerveza a las afueras de Madrid llamada Cervezas La Virgen donde tienen uno pequeño ‘brew’ pub. La segunda parada será una tienda llamada Cervezarama en Calle Malasaña. Aparentemente, tienen no solo muchas cervezas artesanales de todo el mundo pero también muchas cervezas artesanales españolas. La última parada será La Tape en Malasaña y San Bernardo, donde puedes encontrar de 6-8 cervezas artesanales de barril.

WP_001521Como he dicho, no he encontrado muchas cervezas artesanales. Sabiendo que mi elección de cervezas seria limitada en un viaje a Jaén, propuse el siguiente reto a los amigos y la familia de Conchi (ver post sobre la cerveza española). Decía así: ‘Podéis encontrar unas cervezas buenas y nuevas para que yo las pruebe? Puede ser cualquier tipo de cerveza, con tal de que no la haya probado antes. Puntos extra si encontráis una ale española.’ Realmente, no pensaba que fueran a tener exito, pero estaba equivocado. Jose y Pili (y la madre de Pili) encontraron ocho cervezas de las tiendas locales. Puedes ver que la colección incluye una cerveza de Alemania pero el resto son españolas, incluida una de Ibiza en una botella de metal. Particularmente, me gusto la etiqueta y el sabor de Santa Magarida. Esta parece y sabe cómo una cerveza artesanal hecha en España.  WP_001534El novio de la hermana de Conchi, Javi, también encontró otras 4 cervezas. He tomado dos de estas cervezas antes, San Miguel Selecta, una versión más oscura de la San Miguel normal, y Cruzcampo Gran Reserva; pero las otras dos eran nuevas y de nuevo, estas parecían cervezas artesanales. Por último, pero no  menos, Esther encontró una cerveza llamada Carmen en el Corte Ingles para mí. Me gusta esta botella. Esta cerveza definitivamente cuenta como una Ale española, así que Esther recibe unos puntos extra.

WP_001528Así que estas son las cervezas con las que me encontré  cuando fui a España en Marzo. No tuve tiempo de bebérmelas todas cuando estuve allí. Las que me quedaron, fueron transportadas al apartamento de los padres de Conchi en Roquetas del Mar donde estaban esperando mi llegada a la playa en Julio.  Un último punto, yo sé que he dicho que no he encontrado todavía una cerveza artesanal en España. He dicho una pequeña mentira. Durante el viaje a Jaén he encontrado una botella de cerveza artesanal de Tierra D Frontera en un bar de Jaén. Esta cerveza estaba muy bien. Que suerte!

Advertisements

Spanish beer is magnificent

Feria Internacional El Artesana De La CervezaWe in the UK (that’s the Royal ‘we’) are not the only community that are liking cask and keg beer at the moment, known as Craft beer in some circles. The jury is still out with me currently on this term but I will continue to use it as it does have its uses. Spain also appear to be having a resurgence  in craft beer (or is that a surgence as I don’t think Spain have had much craft beer before). In Spain, craft beer is known as ‘artesanal’ beer. My evidence for the rise in craft beer? A couple of beer festivals that have popped up in Spain over the last year. The first, the 2ª Feria de la Cerveza Artesana de Madrid (2nd Madrid Craft Beer Fair) was held at the end of May in, of course, Madrid. The festival looked like it included a number of Spanish, British and American craft beers. A second beer festival that is happened at the end of June is one that is North of Madrid called 1ª Feria Internacional El Artesana de la Cerveza (1st international fair “The Art of Craft Beer”). This beer festival looks to have a more international influence with beers coming from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland and the USA. A quick look at the particpating experts reveals one of the attendees was Melissa Cole, Journalist and expert craft beer sommelierl! Although we could not attend this year, I have been reliably informed that we are allowed to go next year to one of these festivals. Conchi can visit her friends in Madrid and we can all go and try the many Spanish beers that are available. Everybody wins!

WP_001514

I have yet to come across many of these ‘artesanal’ beers that seem to be more available in Spain. In pubs generally, at least the ones I have been to, they serve the mainstream lagers that Spain is well known for, Cruzcampo, Mahou, Estrella, San Miguel to name a few. These regional lagers are available in almost every pub and tapas bar that you go to. I think that if I want to find these ‘artesanal’ beers then a trip to Madrid would have to be in order.  A fellow blogger, Cerveza de Garaje, has given me a heads up to a few places to find some ‘artesanal’ beers in Madrid including a brewery, a shop and a pub.  The first stop would be a small brewery just outside Madrid called Cervezas La Virgen where they have a small brew pub. The second stop would be a shop called Cervezarama in Calle Malasaña. Apparently, they not only have much craft beer from all around the world, but also much Spanish craft beer. The final stop would be La Tape in Malasaña and San Bernardo, where you can find 6-8 craft beers on draft.

WP_001521As I said, I have yet to come across many of these ‘artesanal’ beers. Knowing that my beer choices would be limited on a trip to Jaen, I declared the following challenge to Conchi’s friends and family (see my last post about Spanish beer). It went as follows ‘Can you find some good, new beers for me to try? It can be any kind of beer, as long as I have not tried it before. Bonus points available if you find a Spanish ale’. I didn’t really think they would succeed but was I wrong. Jose and Pili (and Pili’s mother) found eight beers from the local shops. You will see that the collection includes a German beer but the rest are Spanish including one from Ibiza in a metal bottle! I particularly liked the look, and the taste, of the Santa Magarida.WP_001534 This one looks, feels and tastes like a craft beer made in Spain. Conchi’s sister’s boyfriend, Javi, also came up with the goods in the form of another four beers. I have had two of these before, the San Miguel Selecta, a darker version of normal San Miguel, and Cruzcampo Gran Reserva, but the other two are new and again look ‘craft like’. Last but not least, Esther found me a Carmen beer in El Cortes Ingles. I like this bottle. It tells me it is definitely Spanish in origin. This one definitely counts as a Spanish ale so Esther gets some bonus points.

WP_001528So this was the haul that I found myself with the when I was in Spain in March. I didn’t have time to drink all of these beers when I was there. They were safely transported to Conchi’s parents beach apartment where they were awaiting my next arrival in Spain. One last point. I know that I said that I had not yet come across an ‘artesanal’ beer. I told a little lie. During the trip to Jaen, I found a bottle of Cerveza Artesanal by Tierra D Frontera in a pub in Jaen. This beer was very good. How lucky!

NB. This post was written back in June and has only just seen the light of day as I have been very slow at translating it to the Spanish version.

A 21st Century Expo for Beer

Liverpool Craft Beer ExpoLiverpool, home of the beatles, home of the Albert Dock, home of Paul O’Grady (!), home of the latest, coolest craft beer festival, Liverpool Craft Beer Expo 2013. It seemed like a long way to go, almost 200 miles from here to there, but it looked like it promised to be worth it. Over 80 beers on keg and 50 beers on cask from breweries all over the UK including both well established breweries such as Darkstar, Thornbridge, Marble Beers and Salopian and the new kids on the craft beer block such as Harbour Brewing Co, Quantum Brewing Co, Siren Craft Brew and The Melwood Beer Co. In fact, Melwood only opened their doors in March this year.

Tickets were bought for both me and Conchi (long term beer widow) about three months ago for the Saturday evening session (yes, I am organised). The day of the expo came around at last and on Saturday morning we set off for the North West. Now, what normally happens when I plan to go somewhere these days is I look to see what breweries there may be en route. This time was no exception. Lymestone haulThis time I chose Lymestone Brewery in Stone, Staffordshire. A good choice I thought as I had recently signed up to their Virtual Brewery program they are doing with Best of British Beer (BOB). So we stopped off quickly here on the way, picked up six of their beers, had a chat with Ian Bradford about the aforementioned virtual ale (bottling is happening and beers should be ready in a few weeks from BOB, I am not so keen on the voted for name ‘Beyond the Pale’ but am looking forward to the beer) and left with our spoils towards Liverpool.

LCBE Beer Menu BoardThe venue for the craft beer expo was the Camp and Furnace in the trendy Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool. We arrived at the converted warehouse just after the 6 pm session opening time and were given a glass to keep (it had both a 1/2 pint and 1/3 pint line), some tokens to get us started and a program. Making our way round the winding corridors got us to the main room of the Expo. A big, open warehouse space with a massive menu board of beers on the left (really, how do you start choosing which beer to drink from a gorgeous feast of beers like this), overlooking long rows of benches for sitting and enjoying your beers, surrounded by five keg bars and a long, hand pull cask bar.

The monetary system worked much like a CAMRA beer festival. You bought beer tokens from the token shed (10 pounds for 20 tokens on a card), went around choosing your half pint (occassionally 1/3 pint) and paying for it with 3, 4, 5 or 6 tokens depending on it’s strength. Liverpool Craft Beer Expo ShedHowever, this was not your average CAMRA beer festival. Both keg and cask beers were well presented here. There were live bands and music in the background and food stalls to keep the hungry hordes satiated whilst sampling their beers. Not that it was super busy. There were plenty of people there to make for a great atmosphere but thanks to the multiple bars I never had to wait for longer than a minute to get a beer. There was a good mixture of people of all different ages including plenty of young people. Many young people enjoying a few beers was a good sight to see. There was even a section in the corner where ‘live’ brewing was taking place. Hand Drawn Monkey (Huddersfield) were brewing up something crazy whilst we were there, using the throw of a dice to decide the final ingredients!

As for the beer choice, well it was a craft beer (sorry to use the phrase but it does fit quite well in this case) lover’s heaven. I won’t go through the whole list of breweries (check the website here for that if you are interested) but anyone who knows the current UK brewery scene would find a veritable who’s who of the hip and trendy breweries crowding the current scene, reading like a role call of the cool and ubercool breweries who have made their mark or trying to make their mark in the current cask and keg beer renaissance. I, for one, really enjoyed all the beers I drank. All 9, although feeling a little rough on Sunday morning. Amongst others, this included an amazing coffee stout by Summer Wine called Barista Espresso (I started with low ABVs like I think any self respecting beer drinker at a festival should do), thick, juicy and fruity pale ales by The Melwood Beer Co (Citradelic) and Harbour Brewing Co, a double IPA by Quantum Brewing Co (Citra/Centennial, 8.1%) and to finish, an imperial stout going by the name of Even More Jesus by Siren Craft Brew. A massive beer served in 1/3 pints due to the whopping 11.4% ABV.  Peardrops, smokiness, creaminess, it was a good 1/3 to finish the night.

LCBE MelwoodI have to say the Liverpool Craft Beer Expo was a very well organised event and one that other people who want to organise similar events should take note of. You felt that the organisers had not oversold the event in order to pack the venue but create an enjoyable evening for people to hang out with other like minded beer people, try many different keg and cask ales and get served with minimal waiting time. Congratulations. This should be the recipe for further 21st century beer festivals and I hope that this one becomes an annual event. It is a long way to go but well worth the journey.