Beer in wine country
Ask just about anyone what drink they associate with Spain and they’ll most likely say wine. Few would say beer, even though we are known for getting together with friends to out for “cañas” (you know, those small narrow glasses used to serve beer at bars in Spain).
Most Spaniards drink beer more to cool off than for pure enjoyment, so it’s understandable that despite the wide range of Spanish beers on the market, we have yet to produce much beyond the famous rubia (blond) and terms like lager, ale, or stout are still not well known. In Spain we do know Irish black beer (which is actually stout), mostly because they serve it at Irish-style pubs which are common here.
Fortunately things are changing and we’re getting a number of new craft beers and micro-brewed beers. Many of these new beer brands are managed by people who are using their hobby to make a living and many have gotten their products distributed in gourmet stores. There are also specialized stores opened by associated brewers, many of which promote their products through courses on tasting or beer-food pairing.
All this has given rise to two curious situations. Firstly, larger breweries are responding to the growing demand for micro-brew beers and some large-scale supermarkets are featuring a special imported beer section. Secondly, some craft beer brands have signed distribution contracts with big stores, resulting in their products getting dropped from the shelves of the small specialty stores they earned a name with.
There seems to be a promising future for micro-brewing in Spain and a it would make a worthy business to research at a business school.