Wednesday, 27 September 2023
Among the famous phrases on the internet, is one, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, which asserts that beer “is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” On a more earthly level, Spain is a country with a great beer tradition, demonstrated by the average annual consumption of 58 litres per person and a production that reached 41.1 million hectolitres last year, an increase of 7.9% compared to 2021,and only surpassed in Europe by Germany.
Although this beer culture is still dominated by large industrial brands, there has been a noticeable, albeit sporadic, evolution of craft beers in Spain over the past decade. Unlike the US, the mecca of craft beer, where very specific parameters are established to determine what is meant by craft beer, in Spain, this concept remains somewhat fluid.
The Royal Decree 678/2016 defines artisanal manufacturing as a process that takes place entirely within the same facility, with personal involvement being the predominant factor, under the direction of a master brewer. It emphasises that the human factor should take precedence over mechanical processes, resulting in a personalised final product that is not produced in large quantities.
On the other hand, the Spanish Association of Craft Brewers (AECAI) admits as members breweries whose product is made in facilities they own and are not directly or indirectly controlled by companies producing more than five million litres annually.
By widespread consensus rather than a strict standard, some characteristics attributed to craft beer include being made from entirely natural ingredients, without artificial additives or preservatives, with each master brewer having their own unique recipes, and a more manual production and filtration process (although this is changing to improve profitability). Thanks to these factors, craft beer tends to have a fuller body, flavour, and aroma.
Another important aspect is variety, a trend that both craft and industrial breweries have embraced, introducing styles of beer that were relatively unknown a few years ago, such as IPAs (India Pale Ales, including American Pale Ales and numerous subcategories), sour beers, and high-fermentation dark beers, which have become more specific with designations like Porter or Stout. However, the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Programme) guide recognises over a hundred different styles of beer, reflecting the diversity and creativity in the world of brewing.
In Malaga, there has been a boom, then a setback, and now a resurgence of craft beer. Although it is no longer in production, Murex is considered the first craft brewery in Malaga. Its success prompted a number of microbreweries to start up, but due to various factors like a lack of structure and efficient financial planning, many of them had relatively short lifespans. The pandemic also didn’t help, leading to the closure of many that didn’t have the resources to weather the situation.
Today, there are still craft breweries in Malaga like Cervezas Gaitanejo (Ardales), Cerveza Trinidad (Alhaurín el Grande), or 3Monos (Malaga) that have resumed production. Some breweries like Bonvivant (Malaga) and La Catarina CraftBeer (Estepona) have adopted a business model that combines microbrewing with a restaurant enriched with a programme of live performances and music.
To promote the sector, various fairs are held throughout the year. The next one will be Malabirra 2023, a beer festival (although not exclusively for craft beers) that will take place at Autocine Malaga on October 7 and 8.
But for those who don't want to wait, here we recommend some essential beer temples in Malaga city.
From the central Plaza de la Merced, Birras Deluxe offers more than 300 different beers. The establishment run by Francisco Soto and his family has 16 rotating taps, bottles and cans of various styles. It also has a food menu and some more commercial references for the less experienced.
Plaza de la Merced, 5, 29012 Malaga. Telephone: 620 21 87 65. www.birrasdeluxe.com
La Botica de la Cerveza
This establishment is a mecca in Malaga city. Miguel Arrabal leads a project with which he has managed to turn his passion into a profession. From his 'tavern' on Victoria Street he not only offers a wide variety of proposals for his taps and refrigerators, but also expert and unique advice.
Calle Victoria, 13, 29012 Malaga. Telephone: 951 99 10 31. www.instagram.com/laboticadelacerveza
El Rincón del Cervecero
Perfect for any beer fan or anyone looking to get started in this world, El Rincón del Cervecero has a wide selection of imported and craft beers both to taste on the premises accompanied by something to snack on or take away. They also have their own beer, La Reina del Soho.
Calle Casas de Campos, 5, 29001 Malaga. Telephone: 624 20 58 56. www.instagram.com/elrincondelcervecero
Hop Scotch Craft Beer & Whiskey
Outside the city centre, this reference brewery for craft beer lovers is equipped with eight rotating taps, weekly new releases in cans or bottles and a unique and original atmosphere. Inside or on the terrace area, Javier and Ana will act as perfect guides for amateurs and experts, with proposals that they select with professionalism and care.
Calle Correo de Andalucía, 6, 29004 Malaga. Telephone: 627 08 35 24. www.hopscotch.beer
Central Beers Craft Beer
With bars in the city centre and in the Teatinos district, Central Beers has extensive experience in the sector, with popular reference beers and something for all tastes.
They have 15 rotating taps and more than 150 beers in bottles from all over the world, with special attention to Malaga craft beers, and a complementary food menu.
Calle Cárcer, 6, 29008 Malaga. Telephone: 636 82 97 00. www.centralbeers.com
The concept of this establishment by brothers Ramón and Manu Blanco has been evolving since its opening. Currently it is a 'gastrobeer' that, in addition to a catalogue of tap and packaged beers, has a menu that mixes "reinventions of typical Malaga dishes, Mediterranean touches and some beer classics."
Calle Carretería, 73, 29008 Malaga. Telephone: 744 61 34 93. www.lamadriguerabar.com
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