El Corte Ingles, the big Spanish department store, has an excellent range of bottled beers and so, last week, we spent a night on our terrace in Malaga tasting a few and watching the world go by.
As Mahou is one of our least favourite beers, we hadn’t bothered with their Negra, assuming it would be overly sweet and fizzy. However, as Beer Nut had tried it and liked it, we gave it a go. It’s got a promising aroma of coffee and pours with a decent head. It’s also got a good stout-like body which was a pleasant surprise. It tastes pleasant enough, not particularly challenging but a nice surprise from the Madrid brewery.
All the Spanish breweries seem to be pushing premium and reserve brands at the moment and Selecta is San Miguel’s effort. I thought that The only real flavour was alcohol – at 6.2% it didn’t seem worth the units. However, Bailey liked it, detecting toffee and fruity flavours. All in all, a bit like a festbier from a dull regional german brewery.
We had more hopes from two offerings from the Zaragozana brewery, who produce Ambar. Export is 7%, and the label bangs on about multiple types of malt and ‘double fermentation’. It’s OK, with a malty biscuit flavour and comforting goopy body, but there’s not a lot else going on. It’s like a dull Belgian. Better than the San Miguel effort but again I require a bit more flavour from a 7% beer. Maybe a bit of a tramps’ brew, all told?
Their Ceasar Augusta* is a different story, though, and a runaway success. It’s a bottle-conditioned wheat beer in the Belgian style and tastes like a maltier, slightly sweeter version of hoegaarden. We’ve been saying for a while that Belgian wit would be a good style for Spanish breweries to experiment with — it goes with the food, can be drunk cold and there’s an obvious link to Spanish flavours in the use of orange peel — and Zaragozana have done really well with this one.
*Zaragoza is a corruption of “Caesar Augusta”, the original Roman name of the settlement. There are references to the Romans all over the bottle including Latin labelling. Classy.