Monday, 19 September 2011

Just Another Commodity

Beer is. In Spain, or at least the lovely part of it I was in. The little town of Orgiva is full of bars (and the great unwashed). We didn't try them all - the bars that is - preferring a couple in the centre and two on the long walk back up the hill to our rented place, some distance out of and above the town. (For the record, we didn't try the various great unwashed at all.) Beer in Andalucia is it seems, a cold pale tasteless fluid that means so little its brand name isn't even listed in most menus. You have to find out by a quick shufti at the bar on your way to the bogs, or take a punt that the name on the napkins or chairs is actually what is being served. I am pretty sure that over the piece we had, in no particular order, San Miguel, Cruzcampo, Alhambra, Mahou and Estrella. All much of a muchness, as was the own brand stuff from supermarket chain "Dia", which at about €6.50 for 24 x 25cl, was just as good as the rest really, made a good poolside sun quencher and had the straight to the point and perfectly logical name of "Lager".

What was interesting too, was that most of the bars seemed to be thriving inside, even though we sat outside, sun starved as we were. The recent smoking ban seems not to have dampened down enthusiasm much and all seemed lively most of the time. Another oddity was the prevalence of non alcoholic beer and its relative popularity. So while it is bloody freezing here, it is nice to be back and have to have a genuine choice of beer again, both in brand and in style.  Not that I drank that much beer, preferring often to have a cold glass of white wine, though I do confess to the odd "tubo".  I can't say I missed beer that much,  though perhaps tellingly, before going home, we headed straight to the Angel in Manchester, where the Hawkshead Windermere Pale didn't touch the sides.  Hops. Yes I missed hops.

Despite complaints about this and that, it is a useful reminder that we are a beer country here and that makes me both pleased and grateful.

Actually, Alhambra Especial, despite the maize, wasn't too bad, with better body than the rest.


The Beer Nut said...

I see the Society for the Preservation of Vermouth from the Wood have been through.

Tandleman said...

Indeed. A saving grace I thought.

Ian said...

I lived in Madrid about 15 years ago, and drank large quantities of Amstel, Heineken, Estrella, Cruzcampo and Mahou, mostly with no idea of which it happened to be (it was mostly Mahou 'green', the ordinary.

If you wanted something a bit better than the draught, bottles of red Mahou 'Cinco Estrellas' (5 stars) were the general choice.

It did make rounds much easier though - just a quick "two (or three, four etc) more please" - no further details needed!

michael-j said...

the black versions of the standard lagers (Mahou Negra etc) are alright, although I've only seen them around Alicante, guess it could be a local preference.

Alhambra Reserva 1925 was probably the best beer I've drunk in Spain, nice looking bottles too.

Private Poontang said...

Was Cookie one of the " great unwashed " necking lout ?

Tandleman said...

The great unwashed in this case were not swilling lager. I am referring to the grungie hippy types with filthy clothes and dreadlocks that seem to have a home there.

I think their poison comes in smokeable or tablet form normally.

Saxon Brewery said...

Hi We live about 90 min from Orgiva and run a microbrewery see next time you are over pay us a visit or e-mail us are we will tell you where to get a good pint. Cheers Ian and Iwona

Tandleman said...

Saxon - Thanks for responding. Where are you?