Tuesday, 22 June 2010

World Cup Beer Sweepstake-Spain

A couple of weeks ago just before the World Cup started I put my name in for the World Cup Beer Sweepstake. I figured that as well as being fun it would be a good start to my more determined blogging efforts. So here is the blog post that is required by the competition for a legitimate entry into the sweepstake.

I was pretty lucky to draw Spain. Lucky on a number of fronts.
Firstly from a football point of view. Spain are favourites to win the world cup and so I am favourite to win the beer haul, nice. Secondly from a personal point of view: I love Spain, I love its food, its weather, its wine and the people. Thirdly the most popular Spanish beer in the UK is very easy to get hold of. So this third point is not very inspiring for a world cup beer extravaganza but I knew that if I failed to find any interesting beers that I could fall back on San Miguel.

So I did a little research into Spanish micro-brewerys and to be honest realised I would be hitting a brick wall pretty fast unless I flew to Spain. So instead I got the train to Brighton and visited Trafalgar wines, a little beer and wine shop near the station. Here I found my first Spanish beer of the tournament, Alhambra Mezquita. It is from a large brewery but at 7.2% this is no standard Eurolager. But I wanted more, so on the morning of the Spanish feast I was planning I caught another train to London bridge and visited Utobeer where I found a couple more Elhambra beers, the (not very special) Especial and the very smart looking looking Reserva 1925.

I also picked up a San Miguel for good measure. Here is a picture of my handsome amigos.Lovely looking bunch aren't they.
While in Borough Market I picked up a few bits from Brindisa, the Spanish food shop, for the evening's meal. I also bought a couple of bottles of Spanish wine and some lovely single hopped pale ales from The Kernel Brewery. (Seriously, if you get the chance pop along to kernel near Tower bridge and pick up some bottles, it's very good)

Later that evening, I had my four beers to try and I had cooked up some spanish treats. Apologies for the poorly lit, grainy and frankly terrible Iphone picture of the spread but below you should be able to make out, clockwise from bottom, pimentos de padron, albondigas, chorizo with grilled peppers and salad and aubergine with pinenuts.
We opened the bottle of San Miguel first. Prevalent as this lager is in the bars and chain pubs of London this held no surprises. It tastes like what it is, a passable standard premium lager that this tastes a lot better when sitting in a park in Barcelona.

So moving quickly on we then opened the Alhambra Reserve 1925. The aroma has hints of light malts and caramel. This weighs in at 6.4% ABV but seemed to wear this strength well and actually came across quite lightweight. The flavour is typical lager with some nice caramel notes. But to be honest I was quite unimpressed and we ended up finishing it up quickly so we could move on to the next beer.

The Alhambra Mezquita was a huge improvement. It pours a lovely amber colour with a small white head. (I apologise for not taking any photos of the poured beers, I'll have to remember to stick to the blogging rules in future: Number 1. take as many photos as possible). The aroma was heavy with caramel, dried fruits and sherry. The sherry may have come from the high alcohol content but was far from unpleasant. The flavour was much like the aroma, heavy on the caramel and dried fruits. By the end of the small glass the sweetness became cloying and left an aftertaste that was not very pleasant.
After this beer we decided to skip the Alhambra Especial and opened a bottle of wine. It was an Angosto white from Oddbins, as this is a beer post I won't give any tasting notes but I will say it went very well with the remaining tapas and is an excellent and interesting wine.

After the main course we had a slice of almond tart from Brindisa called Torta de Santiago. It was light, crumbly and decadently rich. I'm going to find a recipe for this and make it because it is awesome.

This is what it looked likeI did eventually drink the Alhambra Especial and to be very honest it had no positive aspects at all, it was shite. A bit like England's performance in this world cup. Ah well, at least we are beating the Aussies in the cricket.


Mark Dredge said...

Great post - good effort getting a few different Spanish beers too and a big thumbs-up for cooking.

At least you've got a reason to still cheer along to the football - free beer!

Claire said...

Nice first 'proper' post! We'd better get cracking on that cider then.....

Sam said...

Thanks Mark, I enjoyed researching this post , there's a big one on supermarket cider to come.

Claire: are you gonna write the intro for me?