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beer reviews Spain

Damm good beer (ooh… bad pun)

akdamm.jpg In both France and Spain, the label “beer from Alsace” or “Alsatian beer” is used to imply that the stuff in the bottle will be a bit more strongly flavoured, better crafted and purer. In short, it will be almost as good as German beer.

In practice, there’s very rarely any real difference in style or quality. One Spanish brewery that justifiably trumpets its Alsatian roots, however, is Barcelona’s Damm, whose beers are a cut above those of many of their competitors.

Their well-known Estrella Damm is a fairly typical bland Spanish lager, but unlike similar efforts from Mahou, San Miguel and Cruzcampo, it’s actually pleasant tasting. Of all the commonly found Spanish lagers, it has the most body and the strongest malt flavour. The one to go for if you’ve got a choice in a Spanish bar.

volldam.jpgTheir flagship beer is the Germanically named Voll-Damm. It’s a dark golden, full-bodied 7.2% (DN) German-style special beer whose label makes some bold claims: “The Genuine Beer Character”; “Das Originale Maerzen Bier”. Hmmmm. First brewed in the 1950s, it might struggle to convince a court of the truth of that last claim. Nonetheless, it is a fantastic beer, by any standards. We had one shortly after a bottle of Salvator, and the taste was remarkably similar, even if the colour was not. The nicest tasting Spanish beer we’ve found, if not one to knock back lots of in the blazing sun. Spanish residents can even join a Voll-Damm fan club and declare themselves Volldammistas.

Finally, there’s the fancily packaged A.K. Damm, which is named after the brewery’s founder, August Kuenstmann Damm, an emigree from Alsace. It’s not strong (4.8%), but it does have a (just about) discernible hop character and a really solid malt base. There’s also something fruity in the yeast — we were reminded of one of the more ale-like Koelschs. It’s worth noting, too, that when we had two bottles brewed six months apart, the newer bottle was much better.

The one that got away — the Damm beer we have yet to try — is Bock-Damm. It’s not a Bock, but a dark Munich style lager.

It’s good to see a Spanish brewery taking the trouble to produce a range of different styles, even if all of them are pasteurised and filtered half to death.

8 replies on “Damm good beer (ooh… bad pun)”

Interesting to read about Spanish beers, just a couple of days back I was reading a post (on Chowhound.com I think) that was saying how there wasn’t much to talk about when considering Spanish beer production. Nice to see they were wrong ­čÖé

We managed to bag the Bock-Damm when we went to Barcelona in July this year. It was the best of their range. Best bottled beer we had was the locallyproduced Moritz, but it was very hard to find. Anyone know if there’s a stockist of it in the UK?

Thanks for the comments.

Tara – I’ve never seen Moritz outside of Catalonia, unfortunately. We liked it as well.

Jason – i can see why they would slag it off, as with the exception of Damm, none of the big boys seem interested in experimenting, or when they do it’s either mediocre or bad (see my earlier post about Yuste, Heineken’s Spanish “Abbey” beer). But coming across the Catalan real ale and these Pagoa beers has been a pleasant surprise, and I hope there will be more to come.

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