Searching out craft beer in Spain

Spain and craft beer.  Not two concepts that you’d immediately place together.  In tapas bars in Madrid and Seville, there would always be one tap, and ordering a beer meant having whatever brand was flowing.  Not that this was a bad thing.  The beer was always ice cold, and while eating salty olives, perfectly sliced ham, or any of the other culinary staples in Spain, it made for a great pairing.   Thirsting for something a little different, over two weeks in Spain, I had a few opportunities to dig a little deeper for a beer culture that is emerging, if still at the fringes.

Thanks to an article by the wonderful travel blog, Bite-Sized Travel (written by a fellow Haligonian!) I was inspired to chart a course of a few craft beer locations and beers in Madrid, Seville and Cordoba.   My first stop was Fábrica Maravillas, less than a 5 minute walk north from the Gran Via metro.  It’s a brewery in the back, small pub in the front kind of place.  I tried two of their beers – the Malasaña (left; named after the neighbourhood in which the brewery is located; a well-balanced American-style piney IPA) and a bitter (right; light and easy drinking).  This was also the start of my love affair with the plump, salty olives of Spain.   The only thing missing from this visit was the pub’s resident pug, who, if he was around, may have enticed me to stay for a third or fourth beer.

Afternoon drinks at Fabrica Maravillas

Seville appealed to me on so many levels, and finding that the wonderful Maquila Bar was less than a ten minute walk from my apartment made me a very happy man.  If I ever find myself a resident of Seville, this will be my “local”.  On a Sunday afternoon, I pulled up to the bar and tried two beers by SON, a brewery from the city.  First up, the “Chankete is Dead”, a session IPA at only 3.8% alcohol (did I mention it was very early afternoon?) was crisp and light and one of the better session IPAs I’ve had.  The patatas bravas that I ordered with the drink was the best from two weeks in Spain.  Beer number two was “Groll”, a pilsner, and unmistakeable at that with a sulphur nose and crisp, almost sharp taste.

This was my kind of bar for a few reasons – great beer selection, outstanding food, and because it was a neighbourhood hangout.  In perhaps the perfect picture of why I loved Spain, in particular, Seville, and very specifically this bar, look – it’s a baby in a bar!

Baby in the bar Maquila in Seville

On a day trip to Cordoba, after a long, hot day of being on my feet exploring, the selection of a bar was more about finding shade and somewhere that wouldn’t hustle me along.  In a nondescript place and expecting a glass of one of Spain’s numerous national beers, I was treated to a bottle of Cordobeer Trigo, brewed just a few minutes away from this very spot.  The slightly spicy wheat beer was a perfect thirst quencher on a baking hot Andalusian afternoon.

Cordo beer in Cordoba

Back in Madrid to finish out the trip, I made it to a second craft beer bar on a walking tour on the last day in the city.  Irreale, located in the Malasaña neighbourhood, felt like an old school bar.  With a long list of bottles and taps to try, I zeroed in on a local, thirst quenching beer.  The “Raquera”, a pilsner by DouGall’s, a brewery in Liérganes, was perfect for the occasion.  Cheers to my last beer in Spain, and a cerveza artesanal at that.

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