Week 13 sees us visit the Iberian peninsula for the first time, Spain and it’s islands have been a holiday destination for the British for many years with around 300,000 of us actually living there currently. It’s yet another country where the beer scene has exploded in recent years, San Miguel (and yes I know it’s from the Philippines) being almost nonexistent these days. There is a lot more to Spain than sun, sea, beaches, Paella, Tapas, Sangria, Sherry and Picasso, although there is certainly plenty of all those things within it’s borders.
1120 breweries are on the RateBeer data base with a further 25 listed as closed. The top beer raters are:
Looking forward to the replies to this one. I went to the excellently organised, but poorly attended European Summer Gathering in Barcelona during July 2016. Thanks again Mark and Mark for looking after us (@BRW and @Zoret).
First time I went to Spain (2005) there wasn’t much craft beer, especially where we went (Madrid, the mountains, and Algeciras). Since then I’ve been to three years of the excellent Birrasana fest, had another visit to Madrid post-craft, and of course a fair bit of Spanish beer gets here now, albeit usually the same few breweries e.g. Garage, Edge. In total had 460 Spanish beers, no idea when it comes to regions.
Was supposed to brew two collabs at Reptilian in March 2020, that got scrapped for obvious reasons… then as the world reopened over summer we replanned for September, only for it to all go to pot again, so my trip was cancelled and we brewed as an e-collab! These brews highlighted the importance of clear communication - when I was talking about taking some kegs and bottles for UK I meant just a few for my regular customers, but Isaac at Reptilian was assuming I was taking half the brew! (which TBF is apparently how collabs work in Spain). So I had to find an importer, get everything hurried through before brexshit made it even harder/chingier, and more to the point find £5.5k to pay for the beer, shipping and duty up front, then find customers for 50 cases of each beer when i normally sell about 6 cases…
I had only spent a day on mainland Spain, drove down to Barcelona and back from the South of France back in the mid-90’s. That is until the Barcelona RateBeer Summer Gathering in 2016, Barcelona saw me again a year later when I took my wife to show her the city and it’s delights.
Almost all my 224 beer rates come from those two Barcelona trips, as do all 30 place reviews; 138 Catalonia rates being by far the biggest region for me, Navarre way down on 12 in second place. I’ve actually supped beers from 15 of the Spanish 19 regions so far.
Can’t remember any standout bridges I’ve managed, but Barcelona does have a big fish:
I’ve had holidays on some of Spain’s islands with Formentera being a favourite in the 1980’s before it became popular and over crowded. We are booked on a cruise in March and should be visiting Cadiz and the Canary Islands, I am already planning the drinking at each port we visit. Never been to Madrid or Benidorm, no intention of going to Benidorm, but Madrid and Serville look lovely cities and the Adalusia appears well worth visiting.
Did a road trip across Spain in pre-ratebeer days, which is where I learned to drive a manual car (in Australia it’s usual to drive an automatic and my friend who hired the car didn’t think to ask, so had to teach me quite fast so we could share the driving!). Also have visited Barcelona and Girona (part of a trip to see the Catalan Dragons play Castleford in Carcassone and flying back from there), all good trips. Keen to visit the Spanish sidra regions one day. Would help get me up the Spanish cider and cidery lists!
There are 212 cideries in Spain (I’ve only managed to rate 19 of them), and Envasados Eva cidery has the most listed with a cider count of 26
The top 5 lists for Spain Ciders and Cideries are:
Only 17 ratings from 7 regions. Visited Barcelona for 2 days and really loved the city. Only managed one place rate the George & Dragon which is now permanently closed and oddly focused on Rogue from Oregon which was annoying to an American wanting Spanish rates. Loved the overall food in city and atmosphere and being steps from beach. Would love to see more of country and drink a bunch of beers and ciders. Valverán Brut Sidra Is my highest rated which I had at fanciest meal
Of my life with beer tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park.
It’s just 4 ratings of beers from Spain from me I’m afraid, one each from Naparbier & Basqueland and a couple of lagers. Frustratingly, a wee while before I started to rate more actively on here I visited Mallorca and drank a handful of Spanish craft beers, found a nice little bar in the back streets of Palma which offered some variety (would have gone back often, but wasn’t in charge), but alas no ratings, just ticks (which I don’t bang on here, and they don’t count anyway). As far as the regions go, I have chalked off 4 of them so not a bad effort, without trying. I’ve visited Spain a few times, both the mainland (Benidorm & Pamplona as a kid, Barcelona & Calpe as an adult) and the Islands (Mallorca & Fuerteventura), and think it’s a lovely place, and am happy to go back any time (my bro lives in Calpe and there is an open invite to visit, so once all the nonsense has been sorted, I’ll be off to neck Estrella Damm, Moritz etc.)
Ha - just sneaked into the top 10 on this one and with 967 rates makes Spain my 5th most rated country and have 17/19 Spanish Regions covered so far.
Have only been to Spain a few times over the years and majority of rates have been from elsewhere in Europe (mostly here in DK)
Think Basqueland and Garage are my favourite brewers overall, and over the last year or so have been noticing quite a few new Spanish breweries coming up on the EU bottleshops which I have tried. Top 5 so far are as follows…
Ola! Spain is my 12th highest rated country at 136 rates with 13 / 19 regions covered, although I have Canary Islands and a gold dust Ceuta tick being slung my way very shortly. Unsurprisingly most of my ratings come from Catalonia and Basque Country which are neck and neck at 27 rates each. The Cantabria region comes last with a single rating.
I can thank @teddybeer and Alex @Taboada for enlightening me on good modern Spanish breweries through trades, including some super fresh Soma and Jackobsland haze. As any observers of my ratings will have noticed I do like a cider, and have developed a fondness for Spain’s sharp sour style of Sidra. I first tried it from a supermarket in Sidra’s heartland of the North west, and hated it. But such is the nature of bittersharp, sour cider it takes a bit of acclimatising before it takes hold. Thanks to this thread I’ve re-energised our desire to visit key cider regions of Asturias, Gijon etc, visit traditional cider pubs, the cider museum etc… Seems I’ll be doing a lot of travelling this year!
My travel memories to Spain mostly involve long drives across Nevada-like desert and stopping off at road-side cafes for warm Spanish tortilla and crusty bread before heading to characterful, buzzing venues, lively bars and friendly hosts.
Visiting the monastery on the island of Majorca where Chopin stayed over a winter, and touching the piano he received after months of waiting. Gazing out to the incredible view he had when writing the Raindrop Prelude was something else.
Driving through the vast hectare upon hectare of white sheet greenhouses in the South of Spain near Grenada that produces much of Europe’s fruit and vegetables
The two absolute legends in downtown Madrid that I used to see every time I went. Literally just two guys dressed like they’d stepped out of a Motley Crue video, hanging out, chatting to passers by, blasting out 80s hair metal. I found out from local venue staff they were pretty famous, featured on national TV actually… one had inherited a fortune and decided there was no better way to spend his days. Bizarre.
the Museum of modern art in Bilbao
incredible tapas in San Sebastian and Madrid
The Sagrada Familia… it is insane!
Unfortunately my last visit there was in 2009 so no beer or place rates from my time there.
A poor performance for me… and unfortunately it’s likely to be downhill from here on the rest of the countries!
I’ve rated just 8 Spanish brews (from 5 regions). Due to a high proportion of macro lagers, the average score I’ve given is just 2.5 - and it’s only that high thanks to the following three beers (well, mainly the first one - that Edge porter was superb!):
My only visit to Spain was a quick trip over the border for two nights in Barcelona at the end of one of my inter-railing trips. All I can really remember was (i) that there were outdoor escalators up a hill ( I believe a legacy of the Olympics); and (ii) that the graffiti was really impressive.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with Spain from that visit, but that may have been due to it being right at the end of three months of travelling, and the fact that tapas really didn’t satisfy my increasing cravings for sausage & mash! I’ve heard a lot of positive things about (especially) northern and central Spain since, so maybe I’ll have to give it another go one day… although it’s probably less of a priority for me than other Euro countries.
952 ratings from 18/19 regions. Just need 15 more to reach TOP-10.
Since lockdown I am drinking more local beer than ever before, and im happy with that.
2017 - 69 spanish rates (13% of annual grand total)
2018 - 114 spanish rates (13%)
2019 - 146 spanish rates (18%)
2020 - 169 spanish rates (31%)
2021 - 292 spanish rates (31%)
I’ve literally just emailed the Sagardoa cider tourist association for some tips and advice regarding a visit in March so if it happens I’ll definitely be in touch regarding some good cycle routes. I have a friend who works for a pro cycling team near Girona who undertook a 10 day gravel / off road trip with his brother last year so its wet my appetite.
I did the Normandy Cider route a few years ago which is very cyclable, nice little villages, very high quality French cider. I drove it though. Wrote an article on it for a UK magazine which I can forward to you if you want. Very interested in doing the same in Northern Spain. 41 cider barns from what I can see.
My 10th biggest country in rate terms, in the Before Times I could be in Barcelona a couple of times a year for work (or sometimes holiday), and always tried to get to one of the bars and do a bit of beer shopping. Trouble is, while there’s some quite excellent Spanish (and especially Catalonian) beers now, there’s also a lot of crafty dross and craft stuff that frankly ain’t very good or interesting.
I really could do with another trip to Bar Centro, Garage or suchlike right now though.
We did Italy last week, and Spain is yet another country where I am underperforming, beer-wise. I’ve never been and have been dependent of bars and beer stores carrying the Spanish stuff. So this will be a short one.
So far I’ve got 27 rates, with some really high scorers as well:
My 19th most rated country with 321 rates, average of 2.68
Have covered all regions, except for Melilla.
As microbrewing developed later in Spain, than a lot of other European countries I’ve not had any great beer experiences there, The most memorable is probably visiting Ceuta, and only able to see empty bottled of African Star around, as the only brewery at this time had recently closed.
Nowadays Spanish craft beer has good distribution, and the shaky quality I perceived in the first years of craft beer is much improved it seems,