You’re most likely to associate Spain with matadors, Corrida Del Toros, Pablo Picasso, flamenco, soccer, paella, Ibiza, and tapas. Spirit buffs will look for sangria, tapas, sherry, Anis, Licor de Orujo, Brandy de Jerez, and Gin de Menorca when they visit Spain. But do you know that the Spaniards go gaga over their beers?
After all the country’s ranks 4th in terms of beer production in Europe, closely following Germany, Poland and UK. If you arrive in the Iberian country during the summers, you’ll be able to relish a wide variety of ales, pilsners, and lagers. Not only will you be able to take your pick from the locally brewed world-famous brands but might also be spoilt for choice when it comes to savoring craft beers.
The leading breweries including Hijos de Rivera, Damm, Mahou-
San Miguel, and Heineken Espana, account for bulk of the production. Nevertheless, innumerable microbreweries spread throughout the country, have been catering to the demand for lagers brewed using traditional techniques.
Here’s a rundown of Spain’s top 10 beer brands:-
San Miguel 1516 is a premium lager brewed by Mahou-San Miguel brewery in Madrid and popular with locals for its acerbic yet bitter finish. This craft beer owes its origins to the ales that were produced in Philippines while the country was under Spanish rule. You’ll find the San Miguel 1516 in almost every bar and watering hole in the country.
The San Miguel 1516 is a class apart when you compare the beverage with other lagers produced by the brewery. San Miguel brewery strictly adheres to the ‘Law of Purity’ enshrined by William IV of the Bavarian Dynasty in 1516, while making San Miguel 1516. Just three ingredients, hops, malted barley, and pure water are used for creating San Miguel 1516 and for maintaining its exclusivity. The beer has a nice balance of flavors with aromas of biscuits, drooping flowers, fruits, and cereals predominating.
The brewing history of Moritz can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century (1856) in Barcelona’s Raval, a prominent commercial district. Louis Moritz journeyed a long distance to set foot in Barcelona in order to lay the foundations for the brewery. Moritz first brewed about a century and a half ago, has come a long way to become one of Barcelona’s top icons.
Do not worry about the Catalan script on the bottle’s label (an authentic mark of its originality) but get immersed in its full bodied flavors. Moritz despite its robustness has a smooth texture and has subtle hints of citrus, cereals, and malts. The Saaz hops used for producing this beer tend to be remarkably pricey, lending to it its unique scents and bittersweet aftertaste.
Mahou Cinco Estrella made its appearance as a premium lager brewed by Mahou distillery in 1936. If you step inside any watering hole in Madrid, you’ll most likely see this brand stacked alongside the San Miguel 1516. This beer pairs well with tapas, Spanish appetizers, served either hot or cold in bars and restaurants.
The lager appears blonde to golden when you decant the drink in a glass, and is refreshing and soft on the palate. The beer is brewed from a blend of yeast, standing water, soda water, and malted hops imparting to the ale a good balance of flavors. It won’t be out of place to state that Mahou Cinco Estrella is Real Madrid’s official lager.
The Ambar Especial, one of Spain’s most revered ales, is brewed using specialized ingredients and conventional brewing process. No wonder that the range of flavors walk the fine line between mildness, softness, and robustness. The beer gets its unique amber hue from the mildly roasted malts which also impart to it a balanced, smooth, and revitalizing finish.
The brewery in Zaragoza that produces Ambar Especial-La Zaragozana-is alleged to be the country’s oldest. The lager is exported worldwide, especially to countries like Japan, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Brazil, thereby embodying its global popularity. Ambar Especial’s tang shifts between delectable sweetness and mild bitterness with aromas of wilting flowers and syrupy fruitiness predominating.
If you land in Andalusia in between April and July, you could find yourself thirsting for a bottle of beer as it gets exceedingly hot and dry during the summers. And talking about Andalusian beers, the Alhambra Reserve 1925 would be your best bet. The Alhambra Reserve 1925 has acquired a cult status in Spain as the brewing process has been fine-tuned over the years.
This golden amber lager is definitely one of the most exalted of Spanish beers with stimulating and full-bodied flavors. You can identify the Alhambra Reserve 1925 by its distinctive luminous green bottle. The Mahou-San Miguel brewery (Madrid) uses the best grades of hops and barley for producing this beer having somewhat bittersweet palate with subtle hints of caramel.
The Cerveciria de Campus Tropical Premium is a ‘European Pale Lager’ produced by Compania Cervecera de Canaris based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This pale lager, delivered in a green colored long-necked bottle, has a lucid golden color and the nose represents a blend of wet cardboard, sweet malt with faded notes of citric.
The finish is a tad creamy and bitter with a lingering aftertaste of hops.
The inordinately hot and dry climate of Andalusia compels both locals and tourists to guzzle down beers like carbonated/soft drinks. Andalusians do not think twice before ordering tubos (long glasses) of draught beer. Cruzcampo is one of the three bestselling beer brands in Andalusia, the other two being Alhambra and San Miguel.
Heineken owns the Grupo Cruzcampo SA brewery that has been brewing the lager since 1904. Cruzcampo is a German-style pilsner that tastes somewhat watery and bitter, insipid and bland with robust notes of herbal hops.
Estrella Galicia 1906 is produced from premium grades of Nugget and Perle Hallertau varieties of hops and malts. Toasted malts lend to the beer its characteristic deep amber color and the intense aromas that lingers long after you’ve quaffed a bottle.
Brewed by Grupo Mahou-San Miguel since 1890, the Mahou Classica is bright golden in color with understated aromas of malts and balsam layered over strong whiffs of fruits.
Cerveza LA Cibeles brewery located in Madrid concocts 12 distinct types of ales, including the Rubia-energizing pale ale. Rubia is produced from a blend of hops of different kinds that makes it taste like floral hops with an hint of citrus.