Having just celebrated our anniversary and now Facebook bombarding me with one year ago reminders, I am reminiscing over my honeymoon. To say that it was focussed on craft beer wouldn’t be correct. However, I did marry a lady who loves a good ale as much as I do, so it’s unsurprising that we tried a few new beers along the trip. While I’ll only really mention the beers here, rest assured it was very romantic and not all beer related.
Our first stop was two nights in Paris, city of love and not too much craft beer unless you look for it (although a café on our corner had Brooklyn Brewery beers on tap). We managed to find La Fine Mousse, a small craft beer (or should I say bières artisanales) bar near Père Lachaise Cemetery. They have a great selection of beers from around Europe. I will say though, if there is one place you won’t feel cool enough, it’s in a craft beer bar in Paris.
The rest of our honeymoon was in Spain. For the most part you will see local lagers like Mahou, Cruzcampo, Estrella and San Miguel, all are very similar to Heineken and each other. On a hot afternoon they are inoffensive and if you’re lucky, will be served with Tortilla de patatas, Jamon or some other delicious tapas. Another tip for the inexperienced and uni-lingual is that the word ‘sin’ means without in Spanish. In regards to beer this means ‘without alcohol’. You’re welcome.
Arriving in Madrid we were completely unaware that it was Madrid Craft Beer Week (MCBW). That is until we discovered a bottle shop, called Be Hoppy, two doors down from where we were staying. We were greeted at the door with an amber ale and signage for MCBW was all over the shop. Be Hoppy had craft beers from around the world. We selected a couple to drink while we found what other marvels MCBW would hold for us.
Fábrica Maravillas, a microbrewery and bar in the heart of Madrid, was hosting tours of their brewing facility. Unfortunately, our lack of geographical awareness made us late and we missed the tour. We did appreciate but some really good craft beers (cerveza artisanal) though. We tried the Red Ale, a rich malty red and our favourite, and the FL (IPA) a strong bitter IPA (a little lacking in hop flavour and aroma though) which were served with garlic-infused olives every round.
Next on the list was La Tape a corner bar that had seven rotating craft beer taps and tapas. After a day of walking around Madrid siting down here and enjoying a beer was a refreshing change of pace. Here I received the surprise of earning the Madrid Craft Beer Week 2015 badge on Untappd.
Due to its opening hours on Google Maps being incorrect, we missed out on visiting Cervezas Taifa which has since closed its doors. Luckily, Seville is a beautiful city with many things to do. Tapas here is amazing and we indulged big time. Baked goats cheese, croquettes, jamon and salmorejo to name a few. We also enjoyed some heavily publicised gin and tonics (every second place has a sign for their G&T). Bartenders are particularly generous with their pouring, so a couple of those led to a boozy afternoon.
From Seville we travelled to Casares where we stayed in an amazing retreat called DDG. This was all honeymoon and no craft beer. On a clear day you can see Africa from the pool. We swam, ate, drank and relaxed. Worth a look if you are near Malaga.
A very short stay in Valencia meant we could only get to one craft beer venue. The Market looks like an English pub with the dark timber that adorns the interior. On tap they feature Tyris beers and some other guests. Tyris have a real attitude to their beer with tongue in cheek beer names and comical art on their labels. The Market is another relaxed venue to chill and enjoy some beers. We tried the smoky porter which had some bacon notes in the smoke (breakfast in a beer) and the Diablo’s Joe red IPA had a great balance of bitterness and flavour.
We arrived in Barcelona on Sant Joan’s Eve. On this night the locals play with fireworks and light huge bon fires as part of the celebration. It was great fun to watch. The next day was a public holiday so finding a place to eat and get a beer was difficult. Then just a few blocks from our hotel we stumbled across the Brew Dog bar, which was open. This is the first Brew Dog bar that I’d been to and I have since visited their Tokyo bar. Good beer (surprise, it’s Brew Dog after all), good food and good music. Not even slightly Spanish in anyway.
Investigation revealed many more places to visit. Looking into Edge Brewing we got in touch with Robin, who runs Crafty Beer Tours. His tour sounded casual, fun and would get us to a few places, so we signed up. We started at Black Lab, a brewpub not far from the beach. We got a quick tour of the facility and tasted a couple of their beers. Standout beers were the Black Mirror Stout rich, dark and very dry, and the Cosas Que Pasan Pale Ale (a limited edition, sorry – you’ve missed it) which was flavoursome and floral with just enough bitterness. Tasty. Next stop was Ale and Hop, a small bar with a big range of different beers. Here I tried an intriguing beer, the Paella Food Ale brewed by Nómada Brewing Co, a Gose brewed with salt, rice and olive oil. Some interesting flavours, salty though. Not a beer I could drink all night but worth a try. The final stop of the tour was Edge Brewing. We got a tour through the facility and tried a few beers. We also got to meet and have a beer with Alan, the head brewer. We realised we may have been in the same bar at the same time when he was installing brewery equipment in Brisbane, Australia. Really enjoyed the Hoptimista IPA. A well balanced IPA.
Edge was the official end of the tour, but lucky for us, Robin was keen for more beers. We kicked on to Garage Beer Co had a burger and a few more beers. Through Robin I got to meet a couple of guys from Other Half in Brooklyn and try their Green Diamonds Double IPA. Hopped with Galaxy (exciting to see Australian hops go global) this beer was delicious. It’s 9.1% and 100 IBU but doesn’t taste too boozy or too bitter. I will be checking them out if I get to Brooklyn. From here we went to Bier Cab. Here it starts to get a bit hazy. I remember it being a nice spot with big beer selection, but I don’t know what beer I had there and apparently didn’t want Untappd to know either. Luckily it wasn’t far from the hotel. I can’t recommend Crafty Beer Tours enough.
All in all, Spain has so much to offer to a craft beer geek like me. If you want to honeymoon there it also has enough history, romance and great food too. I will get back there and finish what I started one day.