“This Christmas we can uncork a bottle of beer and make a toast with it,” joked Jenny Heredia, a businesswoman and trainee microbiologist from Malaga who produces the first ecological craft beer in the province under the 'Puente Nuevo' label.
The new beer has been launched in a champagne bottle of 75 centilitres, sealed with wax. She is currently making two types of ecological craft beer, a blonde and a pale ale.
“The idea of using a champagne bottle came from the process of fermentation, which is like the age old method of producing champagne. First, the malt is baked, hops are added and it is tipped into a tank. There the first fermentation is carried out. Then it is left to mature and then bottled for the second fermentation,” explained Heredia. It is a process that takes two months from start to finish.
The exports of Puente Nuevo continue to grow and it is starting to creep into Michelin-starred restaurants. The new beer has already travelled to Sweden, India, Germany and Britain, among other countries.
“I am receiving the biggest orders from abroad,” she admitted and said that 50 per cent of products are sold outside Spain. At present, the brewery produces around 1,500 litres per month, although this figure varies according to the demand.
“We are starting to grow in Spain, although we mostly sell to gourmets shops,” added Heredia who works alongside her partner, oenologist José Manuel Cózar.
At first, this businesswoman did not like beer, or so she thought. “I did not like mass-produced beer, but in London I could get craft beers and I discovered that I liked them and decided to make an ecological beer myself,” she admitted.
By 'going ecological', production costs almost tripled and yet the retail price is similar to the rest of craft beers.
Puente Nuevo uses hops and malts from Belgium where, according to Heredia, “They are the best. They are hard to come by and top quality and they do not contain any chemicals.” Some of the hops, though, are grown locally.
Heredia is a member of the Asociación de Mujeres Empresarias y Emprendedoras de Ronda y la Serranía (Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Ronda and the Serrania), which is run by another Ronda businesswoman, Yolanda Moreno. Moreno is organising a national convention for businesswomen in Ronda in November.
Heredia never imagined that her beer was going to be so popular. At the moment, there are only two types in production, but she has another in mind that she is keeping quiet for the moment.
“My pale ale is very balanced, very round, and I now have a blonde beer to accompany it. I also have another type of beer to put into production, although at the moment it is still just in my head,” she said.