Craft Beer in Seville

19 November 2015 0 Comments Category: Cat Gaa, Living in Spain

Ordering a beer in my native United States often involves a multi-paged menu packed with more than just Bud, Miller and Coors – as microbrews and beer snobbery grown, I’m often at a loss of what or order (and not as adventurous to break away from a pilsner or wheat variety because of the cost).

In Spain, one can simply sidle up to the bar and ask for a caña, a cerveza or a fresca, and even holding up fingers is a universally understood request for a brew. And the bartender is no frills – he won’t show you a beer menu, pull a draft amidst multiple choices or find a special glass for your perfect tasting experience.

In Seville you get a Cruzcampo. Maybe an Estrella Galicia if you’re lucky.

After years of mindlessly ordering a cervecita at the bar, I head rumors from the expat crowd that bars with craft beer in Sevilla were to open in town. I originally scoffed at the idea – craft beers are something I associate with my Midwestern upbringing and trips home to Chicago – and kept ordering Cruzcampo.

But as I’ve begun to consume beer for the sheer fact that I enjoy it, the craft beer furor intrigued me.

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Pioneered in the Andalusian capital by a motley crue of an Italian, a Catalan and a native Sevillano, craft beer in Seville is on an upward trend. As a departure from the pilsner style of Cruzcampo, everything from wheats to India Pale Ales and even stouts are being produced in small batches, and brewers from around Andalucía are garnering recognition. There’s Califa in Córdoba, Destraperlo in Jerez de la Frontera and La Cartujana in Fuentes de Andalucía, smack dab in the middle of the autonomous community.

And the University of Pablo de Olavide is even offering a master’s with a focus in the science of beer making.

During the inaugural Semanita de la Servesa, a ten-day event marked by pub quizzes, brewing courses and tastings, I joined Samuel for an informal pub-crawl and tasting. We’d visit two beer bars and a speciality beer shop, trying six types of beers from local Spanish breweries along the way.

I’ve been to countless wine tastings and done plenty of beer flights, but never with much depth into the taste and quality – every brewery tour I’ve been on usually consists of a quick walk around the machinery, a couple of sad jokes and the basics of brewing before trying a few of the brews on tap. Traveling around the Macarena neighborhood with Samuel gave me a better idea of how styles differ and the science behind them, and introduced me to a new bar.

Did you know that there are 300 styles of beer? Or that foam is an indication of quality? And that the same logic that applies to a wine tasting can be used for trying beers?

 

20151107_223846(0)At Maquila, situated at the southern end of the Alameda de Hércules, we try two lighter beers – a lager and the brewery’s own Mucho Trigo a sweet wheat beer. Samuel asked us to comment on the color, aroma and taste of both, just as one would do in a wine tasting. I already knew how beer was made and that I liked it, so I actually listened up on this tour.

Meandering the back streets of the Macarena, we end up at trendy Regina street, home to fancy pastry shops, boutiques and coffee bars. La Linterna Ciega had opened quietly a few weeks ago and carries several little-known brands, including the pale ales that have yet to even be on a sevillano’s radar. My friends and I zone out about the differences between an India and an American as we chow down on grilled vegetables and honey and nut croquetas (though the Chanquete is Dead IPA wins for best name and best taste of the crawl).

Our last stop was where the craft beer craze all began – a small artisan shop that shares sidewalk space with some of the neighborhood’s trendiest bars.

Alessandro, the Italian owner, recognizes me immediately and remembered that I’d been at his opening party four years before.

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“I’m happy to see you still love beer,” he says in accented Spanish, topping up my glass with a bitter stout. “You’ve got to come to more tastings.”

I quip that these cervezas artesanas are a nice break from the norm every now and again. But what would the Feria de Sevilla, a post-fútbol victory drink or a picnic on the Guadalquivir without a Cruzcampo?

 

Where to find craft beer in Seville:

Maquila (Alameda de Hércules): In-house brewery and creative tapas. Calle Delgado, 4. Open Tuesday – Sunday.

La Linterna Ciega (Regna/Encarnación): Trendy eatery featuring harder-to-find regional beers. Calle Regina, 10. Open Monday – Saturday.

XXXII: The Great Power of Beer and Wine (Macarena): Small bar and shop with both beer and wine from the region and beyond. Calle Jesús del Gran Poder, 32A. Open Monday – Saturday.

Beodo (Alfalfa): The word beodo means drunk, but you can grab snacks and non-alcoholic drinks at this new bar in the Alfalfa. Mainly bottled international beers served. Calle Pérez Galdos, 22. Open Thursday – Monday.

Lartesana (Puerta Osario): Boasting their own local craft from nearby Utrera, Lartesana offers a pretty impressive beer menu and typical Andalusian fare. Avenida Recareado, 35. Open daily. 

Taïfa (Triana): One of the city’s first craft beers, Taïfa runs a small brewery and offer both an amber and a toasted pilsner varieties. Find it in the Mercado de Triana at stand 26. Open daily.

Al-Andalus (Triana): Tucked in off of a major road in the Triana neighborhood, this gastropub has countless beers on tap and bottled, and usually runs monthly specials. The bartenders tend to know a lot. Calle Vicente Flores Navarro, 18. Open Tuesday – Sunday.