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Ancient Roman beer (sort of)

Zaragozana brewery's Caesar Augusta wheat beer

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.

Boak

8 replies on “Ancient Roman beer (sort of)”

Grr, I think I passed on the Caesar Augusta in Madrid ‘cos it was shelved with the premium special brews.

On Spanish witbier, did you get hold of any Inedit? I saw they were selling it in 33cl bottles, and at sane prices. However, the experiment seems to have just been about taking a witbier recipe and removing the flavour from it.

After reading this I feel a bit proud of living in Zaragoza. This Ambar Caesaraugusta was released in Autumn 2008, to commemorate the International Exposition that was celebrated in Summer in the city, and the drawing is the etruscan rite for founding a city, that was employed for Caesaraugusta about 2 thousand years ago.

As most of the people, I really liked it, but I’m still not sure of what style is… wheat ale? Any idea?

Beer Nut and PF – we still haven’t tried Inedit (and didn’t spot it in El Corte Ingles, otherwise we probably would have). So can’t compare.

Hola ED! We definitely thought it was most like a Belgian witbier. We’ve been thinking about visiting Zaragoza for ages – now the AVE exists we’re extra-keen!

I must admit I quite enjoy the Mahou Negra, had several in Gijon one June evening this year before switching to Gouden Carolus (as you do).

La Zaragozana still being an independent so I owe it high consideration. Apart from that, their efforts, as you have appreciate are really great to compete in a market where demand is growing.

All that obssesion on beer styles…… :)!!!!

Export is my favourite from La Zaragozana and more than a “Dull Belgian”, I think that it follows an style almost forgotten in Spain, that is the EXTRA an interpretation of doppelbocks and Viennas.EXTRA was once very famous in Spain and almost every brewery produced one. Maybe being a bit rather sweeter than the references of these styles I mentioned above (maybe it is the reason why you thought in Belgian beer)
About Caesar Augusta, I don’t think La zaragozana is trying to adjust Caesar Augusta into the witbier style.If so it is a real failure. I think they tried to make just beer using wheat, the commonest cereal, Etruscan inhabitants grew in that time. In my opinion, CA is on its first stage. It lacks a lot of things to be balance as a beer made from wheat, and even a lot of things to be a good beer. It has an aftertaste I don’t like, an accidity uncontrolled in some parts of the sip which ruins the general enjoyment of the beer.

PF. This beer has its own marketing bollock as well though at least they are referred to the history of Cerevisia in Spain instead of being the tossing of some megastars.

Haya Salud

Things I forgot to comment

A week ago I was in London and had the chance of paying a visit to Meantime’s Pub The Union. I’m completely in love with the pub. The Staff was really kind, the beer( I`ll write some reviews on CAACblog and my own in a coupleof days) really good, even the menu was nice. The ambience in general was superb (I love their beiergarten!!!! you Know, drinking Pale Ale on cask al fresco just in October and In London wow!!!!)

The fact is that for me their beers are really great.Being their revision of London Pale Ale my fav-in cask, though the keg one was acceptable.However, I found their porter a bit too fizzy, something similar to what happens to Mahou Negra (without comparing them of course) Have you tasted it? what do you thing??)

ATJ, you say you’ve been drinking in Gijón. Maybe you drink Mahou Negra from Keg at the bar Gales???

Haya Salud, amigos

Chela
yep it was Gales in 2007, but this June I thought it a bit rundown and went to Cerveceria el Rey instead to get a break from all that cider (was there for a cider conference).

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