It looks like you’ve finally caught up, Spain. Welcome to the era of the ale.
I am British. And I love a good drink. Make of those two sentences what you will. If there’s something special about British pubs, it’s the ale. Drinking an ale, for me, conjures up feelings of «home»; of sitting in a countryside pub in Yorkshire next to a crackling fire.
A quick glance down the bar of any pub anywhere in the country is testament to just how many beers and ales call the UK home. It’s common to see 3 or 4 different varieties in any standard pub, often rotating and changing in accordance to demand and the time of year.
I’d much rather sit down with an ale or a craft beer than a lager. I don’t know about you, but, at least in the UK, thinking about lager summons up images of blokey blokes or gaggles of LADS out on the lash down the local Wetherspoon’s. A fizzy, weak pint of pond water, such as our very own Carling, is just a bit, well…chavvy. Oh, you’ve got your Stella, of course, lovingly nicknamed «wife beater» due to its connection with violence and binge drinking. And then there’s Foster’s, which is probably the lesser of all the evils but still nothing to write home about.
I presume you can understand where I’m going with this…
But what are we working with in Spain? In the sweltering Summer months there’s nothing like sitting on a shady terrace and ordering an ice cold, thirst-quenching lager. And lagers in Spain are plentiful; Alhambra, Estrella Galicia, San Miguel, Ambar, Cruzcampo… Steinburg… ahem, Mahou…
But it’s good to mix things up every now and again and, as local brewers Tyris wisely say, «La vida es demasiado corta para beber cervezas aburridas»
Although I’m definitely no expert (please feel free to put me firmly in my place in the comments), recent arrivals of various breweries, microbreweries and craft ale pubs seemed to have had somewhat of a knock on effect in Spain. Scottish craft beer giants BrewDog have claimed territory in Barcelona and there’s also been a buzz around craft beer bars and events in Madrid and Seville. In Valencia there are countless bars, restaurants and bodegas in the city centre and beyond that sell both locally and internationally produced beers. Just check out this great beer search engine, LocalBier, to find breweries and stores selling craft ales near you.
Here is a quick overview of local beers, breweries and bars that have caught our eye recently in Valencia:
Birra & Blues
This week we were lucky enough to be invited to the inauguration of the new Birra & Blues bar in a great location in Valencia city centre. Initially coming to fruition as a side project while working with Alboraya-based restaurant Spaghetti & Blues, the brewery has slowly grown and gone on to win prizes for its La Negra (stout) and Doble Malta (double malt) ales.
Currently available in the Birra & Blues bar are ten draft beers: La Negra, Doble Malta, Tostada, Rubia, Trippel, John Lee Blues, IPA Blues, Black Blues Abbey, Amber Ale and Trigo, with a view to add more in the near future.
Proving to be a roaring success, the inauguration saw the bar full to the rafters with beer lovers, surrounded by a charming blues-inspired decor. Tip of the hat to the waiters and bar staff who did a cracking job despite being rushed off their feet. We particularly enjoyed the rubia, tostada and IPA – we’ll be back!
Birra & Blues bar: Avenida María Cristina 12 (opposite Mercado Central)
Brewery: Avenida Mare Nostrum 34, Alboraya
Tyris came about in 2009 after its founders bonded over a love of beer after travelling. They found that a good beer like the ones typical of Germany were few and far between in Spain. And thus Tyris was born.
If you ask me, there are three things that sum up this «microbrewery»: tasty beer, quirky artwork and slightly risqué, punny names (read: Paqui Brown, Tyris, Smoky Porter, AU YEAH!, CCCP, Diablos Joe!, VIPA, Riu Rau, Lemonzilla and Black Pussy Palace).
Strong connections with Valencia are striven to be kept with all labels and artwork being purposefully designed by local artists. Further examples of Valencian roots can be seen in the names Paqui Brown (Paqui being a typical name in the area and incorporating it into a pun of a hit Tarantino movie) and VIPA (Valencia Indian Pale Ale).
Tyris is sold in over 120 bars and restaurants in Valencia and in another 50 in Alicante.
A far cry from just a mere brewery, the Tyris team also organize workshops, tours and events – they recently celebrated their fifth anniversary in cool Ruzafa library-bar Ubik Café. Without doubt, here’s a brewery with a sense of fun.
Tyris on Tap (ex-La Fabrica): Plaza Taula de Canvis 6, (Next to La Lonja)
Brewery: Poligono Industrial de L’Oliveral Calle X, Riba-Roja del Turia
Zeta Hell is quite possibly my current favourite beer. Founded in 2013, Zeta is the brainchild of two university friends from Valencia, now well versed in the art of beer manufacture thanks to a passion for gastronomy and stints working abroad for major breweries. They decided to brew one 100% natural beer on a small scale to ensure superior quality. And quaffable it is. The cool glasses, branded with the quirky logo, allow beer lovers to order 25cl or 40cl.
We owe our love for Zeta to bar La Vitti in Plaza Xúquer. Cheers!
Bar: Unfortunately there isn’t a Zeta bar but you can consult bars that sell Zeta on draft and in bottles here.
Brewery: Camí de la mar 21, Alboraya
Other names you should know:
La Socarrada, Cerveza Artesanal Premium
This Xàtiva brewery is home to the unique Er Boquerón. A beer with filtered Mediterranean sea water, you say? Sounds strange, tastes…interesting. We first tried Er Boquerón in El Chico Ostra in Benimaclet.
Also brewed here is La Socarrada. Literally meaning «the scorched one» owing to it’s dark colour, this is an ale with a lovely hint of rosemary, honey and fruit.
Taking its name from the the Cathedral bell tower in Plaza de la Reina, Cerveza Micalet is highly praised and was named the best Spanish beer 2013 by gastronomy gurus Verema.
Move over, young ‘uns. This here is a beer veteran. Founded 80 years ago but put on hold during the war, Turia first started producing in 1947 only to be later absorbed by Barcelona-based brewery Damm. Like many beers, Turia has taken the name of the river where the water running to their factory comes from. Add that to the label depicting the Torres de Serrano and ask yourself: Can you get a more Valencian beverage? (Apart from horchata and mistela)
We wait with baited breath for the Ruta Turia 2015 announcement, something that combines gourmet tapas with tercios of Turia.
Get a taster:
Olhöps Calle Sueca 21
You can find the majority of the above beers alongside other local and national beverages both in the Olhöps bar and in their online marketplace. Passionate about craft beer, the team opened the bar in Ruzafa in late 2014 and it has since hosted an array of successful events including two installments of Meet The Brewer. Enjoy a choice of ten, rotating beers on draft as well as a variety of bottled beers in this tastefully decorated craft beer house. And grab some nachos while you’re at it.
So there you have it, a quick rundown of the most important beers, breweries and bars in Valencia today. Are you thirsty for more? Well you’re in luck because it’s Friday. ¡Salud!
Please let us know if you have any further suggestions or if you think we’ve missed any important gameplayers.
Check out all the bars mentioned in this post over on our Valencia Highlights Map.
Home page image via.
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