Beers of Valencia

And now for something completely different: a beer with three buttocks. Well, not quite, but given the experimental nature of Valencian beer, maybe this isn’t entirely out of the question …

Spain is very much wine country – it has more land devoted to vineyards than any other country in the world. But even here the tendrils of the New Beer Revolution™ have spread, which is not to say that Spain doesn’t have its own well-established beers.

Cruzcampo is one of Spain’s veteran national breweries, now owned by Heineken and just as ubiquitous. I was surprised to find that their Pilsen isn’t bad for a mass-produced lager, with quite a distinctive malt character.

Turia Märzen is Valencia’s own traditional brew, made since 1935 and named for the river that was diverted after flooding and has now become a huge park running through the centre of the city. Not a bad brew, but we can do better. The really interesting stuff was in the new bars that make their own beer.

Tyris on Tap is smack bang in the centre of the old town, with a courtyard outside, as is the Mediterranean way. We didn’t have much time here, but managed to sample the Paquita Brown (5.2%), a strong brown ale with a pleasingly nutty character, and a guest wheat beer.

Next up (and probably our favourite bar in Valencia) was Birra & Blues. How on earth are you supposed to pronounce this? ‘Birra’ looks Italian, ‘Blues’ is English, and we’re in a region that speaks both Spanish and Valencian, which may or may not be a dialect of Catalan, depending on who you speak to.

Their Red Wheat (5.4%) is a wheat beer brewed with mango, which works surprisingly well. Black Blues Abbey (6.3%) has a Belgian character but, in complete contrast to its inspiration, brings its warming alcohol to the forefront. IPA Blues (5.5%) also tasted potent, with a full body and a decent whack of hops.

Exhausted by the rigours of tourism, Helen didn’t make it to Beers & Travels, so I valiantly continued on my own. Their IPA is a decent take on the American style, though strong at nearly 7%. After this I tried a bottle of La Soccarada Er Boquerón (4.8%), whose gimmick is to use Mediterranean seawater. It had a salty taste, yes, but was otherwise thoroughly Belgian in character and rather more-ish.

This sums up beer in Valencia – very much rooted in the traditions of the big beer countries (notably Belgium, Britain, Germany and the US) but with their own slightly crazed twist.

We didn’t get to try Beauty, brewed with Aloe vera, or Antara, which features tiger nuts. Nor did we get to the Olhöps craft brewery.

Ah, well – there’s always next time.

Written by Richard Salsbury

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