When Paul Whitelock moved to live in the Serranía de Ronda in Spain there were just three things he did not like about the place. The acento andaluz, smoking in bars and the beer. Oh, and the bureaucracy …! Now that he’s been here a while, things have changed. He’s grown accustomed to the locals speaking fast and without consonants; smoking in indoor spaces has been outlawed; and he’s gradually learning how to cut through all the red tape. But … what about the beer situation?
DECENT beer is about the only thing I miss living here in Spain. The best beer in the world without question, in my view, is a cask-conditioned ale from one of the hundreds of micro-breweries in England. Closely followed by German Weizenbiere, Czech lagers like Budweiser Budvar – not the American piss of the same name that Anheuser-Busch makes – and Belgian beers, if you like fruit in your tipple.
With few similar alternatives here in Spain, Mahou is the least appalling of the branded lagers; Alhambra, Estrella Damm, Amstel and San Miguel are also drinkable. Cruzcampo is the worst of the lot.
For home drinking I prefer to spend 25c per can for Steinburg (Mercadona) or Supersol’s own brand, or the Aldi equivalent, Karlsquell, at 22c, rather than 50c or more for a branded beer. Served very cold you don’t notice the difference. And interestingly all three of those own-label beers are brewed by the same company, Font Salem S.L. in Valencia.
Real ale comes to Spain
It’s good to know that there are some quasi-real ales being brewed in Spain now. I say quasi, because they really have to be served as keg beers under pressure because of the climate.
I’ve recently heard of at least three in Andalucía alone.
First of all there’s the Fábrica de Cerveza Kettal (FCK), located in Los Barrios (Cádiz). A brewpub claiming to produce English-style real ale, the brewers use traditional methods and all natural ingredients.
FCK claims to be the first micro-brewery in living memory in the province. According to owners Mercedes Lynch and Tim Revill, FCK is part of the revolution against mass-produced products, which is growing throughout the food industry.
“Consumers are growing aware that many foodstuffs contain all sorts of chemical additives to give them the flavour and appearance that big companies think the average consumer expects. At FCK we use the flavours that nature provides, with no unnatural additives.”
FCK’s Brewmaster, Australian Jonah Jones, adds: “We brew English-style ales, which are kegged and served chilled and under pressure. CAMRA would not approve, but cask beer just will not survive at this latitude and temperature.”
So, there we have it – it’s not real ale at all, although, having tried it, I can confirm that it tastes better than anything else on offer down here.
FCK has a website at www.fabricadecervezakettal.com
The Saxon Brewery in Vélez Rubio, Almeria, supplies various bars in Almeria and Murcia with UK style real ale. They don’t have a website but owner Ian Orpe can be contacted at email@example.com
La Fábrica in Sevilla is also a brewpub I’d been told about, so when I happened to be in Sevilla one Sunday in May I went to visit.
We got to the Plaza de las Armas and looked around. No sign of it, so I asked in another bar.
La Fábrica? Oh, it shut down about 18 months ago. It’s now called Los Olivos, just over there.
Disappointed, we went there anyway, as the thermometer was hitting 40 degrees and we were hot and thirsty. It’s just an ordinary bar now, but at least it had Mahou on draft, my favourite of the Spanish lagers.
My disappointment at the disappearance of one of the few real ale outlets in Andalucía was tempered, however, when I learned the following day on Facebook that the Bar Allioli in Jimera de Líbar, further down the Guadiaro river valley from where I live, has launched its own real beer, Allioli Weisse Bier (sic), a German-style wheat beer.
Brewed by the afore-mentioned FCK brewery I have since tried it and can vouch for its excellence. Bar Allioli has a website at at www.barallioli.com
90 cask ales
Giving the lie to the assertion that the climate here is unsuitable for cask ales, RealBeeria is a distribution company which currently supplies up to 90 UK cask ales to selected outlets in Almeria, Murcia and Alicante provinces. Their website is www.realbeeria.co.uk
I wonder if there are more real ale developments out there? Do let us know! ¡Salud!