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Old 03-26-2009, 09:22 AM   #1
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Default History of beer in Spain/southern Europe?

Does anybody know about the history of beer in southern Europe? When I am on trips to spain, usually there is only very pale lager available as a domestic product. Beeing a relatively warm country, they couldn't have been producing lager throughout history, could they? Or did they only have red-wine in the good old days?

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Old 03-26-2009, 11:36 AM   #2
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We have been to Spain several times, and our experience also parallels this- cerveza is pale lager, usually available both in bota o barril. It would be sheer speculation on my part, but might it have something to do with the grains that have been grown and generally available that far South in Europe? This, of course, would have no bearing on what could be brewed today, but what people drink is more a matter of the tastes they're accustomed to than what is available. I'd be interested in learning more of the history of beermaking, but have seen no such history so far....maybe time for a little research.

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Old 03-26-2009, 01:14 PM   #3
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I dont think there is any to be honest. Do you ever hear about the great Spanish brewers? Even most of France is not known for making beer. The same with Italy and Greece.

These regions are much more suited for growing grapes. That is why these are classic wine producing regions.

I'd be willing to say that most of Southern Europe has no beer history until the rise of the pale lager. Now, almost every country has their version of mega-swill.

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Old 03-26-2009, 02:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Edcculus View Post
I dont think there is any to be honest. Do you ever hear about the great Spanish brewers? Even most of France is not known for making beer. The same with Italy and Greece.

These regions are much more suited for growing grapes. That is why these are classic wine producing regions.

I'd be willing to say that most of Southern Europe has no beer history until the rise of the pale lager. Now, almost every country has their version of mega-swill.
That's why I think this question is interesting. I've never heard of big brewers in southern Europe.

But are you sure about them having absolutely no brewing history? I thought almost every country in the world had some kind of beer-history? Even Egypt in northern Africa is said to be the place where beer was invented.
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erlendso View Post
But are you sure about them having absolutely no brewing history? I thought almost every country in the world had some kind of beer-history? Even Egypt in northern Africa is said to be the place where beer was invented.
Pliny the Elder wrote about the southern Celts brewing traditions in Naturalis Historia including those of Spain, around 77AD. In particular, he mentions that Spain and Gaul were particularly good areas for growing corn (aka wheat/barley) and steeped those grains in water to form beer. He even mentions that Spain, specifically, had developed a 'beer' that was able to keep for a long time - in contrast to the modern belief that historical beer did not keep. Also, it is important to note that Spain had a long historical association with the Phoenicians, who had established trading centers across the Mediterranean to Egypt and Assyria that were among the earliest beer drinking peoples.

It would be interesting to see if any medieval brewing tradition exists in Northern Spain (Galiacia) as this area shares many cultural and culinary similarities to Northern France and Southern Britain.
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:12 PM   #6
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There are a couple beers in Spain called Estrella Damm and Estrella Galicia (no relation) that are both lagers and both not that good from what I've heard.

I have heard, however, that there are more and more micro breweries cropping up in certain regions of Spain that do a mix of both ales and Pilsners, might be something to look into...

The latter of the two, Galicia, is a brewery named and styled after the brewing "traditions" of the Gaelic people who settled the galicia region but from what I understand its not that good...

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Old 03-26-2009, 09:45 PM   #7
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When in Spain, you should drink the wine. I am a big fan of Rioja, Ribero del Duero and Navarre. I have spent a good deal of time in Spain, mostly Burgos but some time in Cascante and Barcelona. I did not find any really good beers but the pale lagers were by no means swill. I found them to be good and they generally following the German style of pils but not as hoppy, floral or crisp.

I once asked the General Manager at the plant where I was working, why the Spanish didn't drink more beer. His response was, "There is enough water in wine." I guess he can survive on the wine.

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Old 03-26-2009, 09:54 PM   #8
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Wot!? Nobody mentioned San Miguel yet?

It's the Corona of Europe in that it is Spanish, pale and fizzy. Not actually too bad as far as that kind of thing goes. I would drink it quite happily if there was nothing else.

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Old 03-26-2009, 10:13 PM   #9
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Alhambra's alright, too, i guess...

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Old 03-26-2009, 10:45 PM   #10
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In Seville they drink more beer than wine, as evident from the beer gardens and tapas bars that are everywhere in the city. Though really the only beer available on tap is Cruzcampo, which is brewed locally and tastes similar to Heineken. And its cheap - 1 euro for 8oz.

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