Lizzie and I have just got back from a week in Majorca. Lots of nice food, relaxing, swimming and walking... but one thing I did not expect to find is craft beer!
We stayed in a place called Port de Soller on the north coast, the beach resort just down the road from the larger town of Soller. On our first day wandering around town, we were in a local deli shop and came across bottles of beer which happened to be brewed just up the road in Soller. I was very excited. We immediately purchased a cold one from the fridge and took it down to the beach to try in the sunshine...
The brewery is called Sullerica. They had four different beers in the shop: a wheat beer, a porter, an IPA and this one... a pale ale made with orange blossom. Really refreshing, with a light fragrant flowery aroma. Although they're refreshing enough when drunk cold on a hot day, this made a lovely change from Mahou and Estrella.
We made a note of the address of the brewery printed on the bottle and made sure to look for it next time we visited the main town. A couple of days later, after a long day walking, we ended up in Soller and we immediately headed for the brewery. We had no idea what to expect... it might just be someone's house, but I was desperately hoping it would be somewhere which was open to visitors and hopefully somewhere we could buy a beer. I was very happy when we found it...
The brewery was open so we walked in and found we were the only visitors there. We were greeted by Guillem in a small but impressively set up brewery. He was more then happy to get us some beer and explain a bit about the brewery which was launched in February 2013. We tried two beers. The porter, a lightly roasted beer, very smooth for the 6% ABV and also made with orange blossom which gave it a subtle underlying fruityness. The other one we tried was their newest beer, and IPA. This really impressed me. A fantastic punchy aroma which immediately tells you that it's going to be good and a really good bitterness. Guillem explained that this is made with local olives... the local olives are very bitter so these add a unique bitterness to the beer that I could genuinely detect in the taste. I thought this was such a good idea... olives essentially used as an extra hop variety!
With a bit of help from his Wife Maria who joined us when Guillem called on help translating, we had a chat about the recent growth of craft beer. We talked about how popular it is these days in London and Guillem and Maria told of their constant battle to popularise it in Mallorca and Spain, where the majority of people are daunted by the intense flavour and bitterness and instead prefer the softer lagers they are familiar with.
We very much enjoyed our chat with Guillem and Maria. I felt very happy that they seemed to get a lot out of it too... they seemed almost taken aback by my compliments, especially when I commented that their IPA would not be out of place on the Bermondsey Beer Mile. Guillem didn't want any money for the beers we had tried but I insisted he had some, I felt compelled to support these guys in what they're doing and I appreciated how much hard work it was. I very much hope to see more of this brewery in the future and I fully expect that I will. Buena Suerte Sullerica!
Since our discovery of Sullerica, we later found that Majorca has several microbreweries. We tried to seek out some of the others but were not able to find any others in the fairly remote area we were staying.
On a day trip to the capital Palma, we were able to try a couple of beers by another brewery known as 'Beer Lovers' (from Alcudia) in a great little bar called Bar Rita. Their IPA was seriously good and would genuinely hold up well against the best of UK and American IPAs.
The world of craft beer is booming at the moment but I think Spain is slightly different. The beers I tried were impressive and surprised me in a good way, especially as recipes were still fairly new, but I never saw anyone of the locals drinking them. Understandably the prices are higher than the more commercial beers but Spain is a country of tradition and sadly I think that is part of the challenge. Guillem at Sullerica told me that they had beers on sale in Barcelona and I saw that they recently represented at the Barcelona Craft Beer Festival. They seem to be getting recognition in the craft beer world and I have no doubt that if they make their way to the UK, people would drink them and enjoy them. I just hope that they can make the breakthrough in their home country and one day, just maybe... they can replace crappy San Miguel.