Sori Brewing CEO Pyry has a holiday tradition to go celebrate New Year in different countries. This time it was time for a road trip in Spain, from East Coast to Andalucia in South and again up to the capital, Madrid. During this great trip he had time to meet some great people that are part of this wine country’s craft beer revolution.
Since Spanish beer culture is experiencing the same problem as in many countries where craft beer is just on a growing stage, the scene is very diverse and it’s impossible to tell which are the one hit wonders and what breweries are in it to win it. Here are some thoughts Pyry has on Spanish growing craft beer movement.
First I met Javier Leon and his wife in his beer store La domadora y el León in Nerja, which is a sunny village in Andalucia. We had some good beer talks and I got to taste their upcoming brewery’s La Axarca Tropical Pale Ale (made in SON brewery), which was very refresing and balanced Ale. His beer store is a nice place to stop by for Spanish beers, but also for Belgian and American ones.
Since my timing was challenging (Christmas/New Year), it wasn’t that easy to find places that were open. Luckily, I had a possibility to visit Cervezorama beer shop in Madrid, which also had a great selection of Spanish craft brews. I also got bottle from their brewery project’s Yria-Guinea pigs! new Belgian style Strong Ale, Fraycui. This brewery was one of the first ones I stumbled upon when I was searching for Spanish craft beer.
Next up was a craft beer restaurant in Madrid, La Tape, which was recommended to me by a friend. I got to taste some fresh stuff from their taps and got introduced to Pilar Sanchez who is in charge of their craft beer selection, which was pretty great! Nice atmosphere and a nice neighbourhood (just a block away from Cervezorama).[pullquote align=”right”]Maybe a Finnish/Spanish collaboration brew coming up?[/pullquote]I also got some of our own brews, Investor IPA, with me and left some bottles of it to fellow brewers and craft beer people. I just hope I had more time to meet more people and breweries, but this just confirms that we have to visit another time soon. Maybe a Finnish/Spanish collaboration brew coming up?
Warm country, lighter beer styles?
Some craft breweries in Spain love to experiment with styles that are usually very strong in ABV. One of these styles is Imperial Stout, wich is one of the greatest beer styles in my opinion. Problem with this style is that it is very strong in taste and overall, and according to Javier, Spanish people are still very much into lighter styles that fit in the warm Spanish climate. That’s why it seems that Spanish craft breweries have a lot of Pale Ales, Red Ales and other lighter Ales, which is pretty great in my opinion! If I understood correctly, stronger styles come more popular when going Northern Spain and Barcelona already has a pretty vivid craft beer scene.
This time I still wanted to go with my favorite style and bought some great Spanish black treats, like Mammooth Imperial Stout, La Pirata Black Block (Imperial Stout) and Milana Black Feet Black IPA.
Struggling economy makes brewery investing hard[pullquote align=”right”]That is why craft beer culture is very strong here: doing collaboration, gipsy brewing and helping each other.[/pullquote]This is probably a no-brainer: in Spanish economy where all growth is struggling and banks are barely getting out from the crisis, it’s not easy to get funding for a brewery. That is why craft beer culture is very strong here: doing collaboration, gipsy brewing and helping each other. This also means it’s not that easy to start a decent size brewery and quit your day job. While it’s a hard business to be in, it’s very rewarding one. And since this economic struggle is also very visible on beer prices (especially in Southern Spain), it makes exporting your brews very attracting option.
Good thing Europe has very much thirsty craft beer fans graving for new stuff, it wouldn’t be that hard to get great beer sold. Logistically and marketing-wise it takes some arrangements and barriers to overcome, but I predict that some day we’ll get these best Spanish brews on glass here in Nordics, too.