Sunday, 11 October 2015

Cervesa Mallorca! – The Growth of Craft Beer in Spain




Mallorca may not bring to mind artisanal beers savoured in moderate volumes – but the influences of quality beer creeps further and further each year and this beautiful Mediterranean island is now home to several innovative micro-breweries.


No holiday would be complete without spending a little time researching my favourite local malt beverage and trying to meet up with any local brewers. Tucked away in historic towns across the island there are now seven local producers making a seriously wide range of beers. Finding them however did prove a little tricky.

I started my beer travels at a wonderful bar in the capital: Palma. Having become used to the bars selling only one ‘cervesa’, which quite often wasn’t even branded, seeing a long line of taps in the Cook & Beer brewpub was a very welcome sight. English, Belgian and a wide selection of local beers were available and all delivered up by a very enthusiastic barman-brewer who took time to talk us through all of the local breweries and recommended bars.


In the same neighbourhood as Cook & Beer is the Tramuntana Brewery and bar, named for the beautiful mountain range that runs along the northern coast and a nearby bottle shop: Del Món both well worth searching out. Forastera brewery has some funky looking beers and they are located further south towards the airport.

Heading east from Palma to Algaida, Cervesa des Pla make a very interesting soured honey-wheat beer called Xeixa. Finding the beers can prove difficult, but one of the more widely available in supermarkets is Cas Cerveser Galilea based in the mountain area of Puigpunyent. Sullerica from Soller on the western coast make a wonderful black ale brewed with cacao. The smallest brewery is Talaiotika from Porreres started by a winemaker and chef.

 
Beer Lovers Brewery from Alcúdia have developed a great local following and produced some wonderful English and American influenced beers and taken more to hoppier styles than some of the other local beers. They have a patio bar and hold regular beer and food matching events.

 
All the breweries produce an astonishing range of styles – they realise they are never going to compete for the ‘session’ lager market – the prices of ‘Euro-Fizz’ are just so low that you wonder how the cost even covers the tax and delivery. They need to persuade buyers to spend potentially ten times more for their product; so the market looks for fuller flavoured beers. Styles range from pale wheat beers all through to some very convincing dark porters and chewy stouts.


The bottled beers are all bottle-conditioned and filled at the breweries. The draught beers are on keg – but they are ‘keg conditioned’ that is to say the kegs are filled with ‘live’ beer, unfiltered and the beers then gradually develop their own ‘fizz’ so no extra gas is added.

The bottles and the draught beers are all generally pretty hazy and quite lively which seems to be the mark of a ‘craft beer’. I have noticed on the Continent and North America beer lovers have developed the idea that good beer is defined on appearance:

 
Clear Beer = Filtered = Industrial = Bad!

Hazy Beer = Unfiltered = Craft = Good!

Versus the way the English notion that the method of dispense determines the quality:

 
Keg Beer = Industrial = Bad!

Real Ale = Craft = Good!

Where really it’s simpler than that:

 
Good Beer = Good!

Bad Beer = Bad!

 

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