Beer and sandwiches

Serrano ham roll and Pagoa stout in San Sebastian

On a pre­vi­ous trip to San Sebas­t­ian (aka Donos­tia, in the Basque Coun­try) I tried beers from the local craft brew­ery Pagoa on a cou­ple of occa­sions. On our recent hol­i­day, we we stum­bled upon a very sim­ple, very old-fash­ioned bar which prides itself on serv­ing the best ser­ra­no ham, and which also hap­pens to stock Pagoa beers.

The ham was, indeed, fab­u­lous and the beers went real­ly well with it.

If you’re in San Sebas­t­ian, El Valles is def­i­nite­ly worth a vis­it.


San Sebastian postscript – Keler lager

I got quite excit­ed to see that San Sebas­t­ian had a “local” lager, Kel­er, with basque on the labels and all. The bot­tles tell a sto­ry about some Ger­man brew­ers who set up in San Sebas­t­ian in the 1890s, yada yada yada.

How­ev­er, I was dis­ap­point­ed. Not so much by the fact it´s the usu­al yel­low fizz – that I was expect­ing – but to find out that it was now brewed by Damm in Barcelona. I thought that at least I´d be able to rec­om­mend it on envi­ron­men­tal grounds.

Still, at least it´s not Heineken, who real­ly do dom­i­nate San Seb (although they tend to hide under the Cruz­cam­po brand).


Basque beer – two offerings from Pagoa

San Sebas­t­ian is con­sid­ered to be a bit of a food­ie par­adise, with lots of local wines, ciders and spir­its to match. I had­n’t been expect­ing to find any basque beer, but I was on the look­out, and I struck gold ear­ly on with a cou­ple of offer­ings from Euskal Gara­gar­doa S.A. in their “Pagoa” range – Orhi, a pil­sner and Gor­ri, a “Red Ale”. I gath­er from var­i­ous inter­net search­es that there is (or was) also a stout (Zun­beltz) avail­able but I’ve not been able to find it.

The beers are described as “tra­di­tion­al Basque beers” and the ingre­di­ents are just bar­ley, hops, water and yeast. Both are 4.9%. There’s no oth­er infor­ma­tion on the bot­tle.

These beers got a bit of a slat­ing on Rate­beer but I have to say I real­ly enjoyed them. Pos­si­bly in con­trast to the stan­dard Span­ish fizz and the dis­ap­point­ing offers from the var­i­ous French micro­brew­ers that we tried in the last cou­ple of weeks (pos­si­bly more to come on that, but I don’t want to slag off micro­brew­ers who are try­ing their best).

The Orhi in par­tic­u­lar was very pleas­ant. I was remind­ed more of a koelsch than a pil­sner (malty, fruity flavour, low car­bon­a­tion, medi­um body, long fin­ish) but it was great to have a beer where you could taste the malt and the hops. It also went very well with the spicy chori­zo stew I was eat­ing.

The red ale remind­ed me of an Alt, with a toasty malt taste, and again quite fruity and not par­tic­u­lar­ly car­bon­at­ed.

Def­i­nite­ly worth seek­ing out if you’re in Spain.


PS Sor­ry about the lack of pho­to – I have one, but no way of trans­fer­ring it onto this com­put­er at the moment.